NORWALK, CT – The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is seeking divers who will willingly and regularly volunteer to plunge in among its 7- to 9-foot sharks.
The Aquarium is recruiting experienced scuba divers to join its Volunteer Dive Team to help make public educational presentations from inside the 110,000-gallon “shark tank,” home to six sand tiger sharks and one lemon shark.
“It’s the most exciting place to dive in Connecticut,” said Brendan DeGrim, the Aquarium’s Dive Safety Officer. “We have a good core group of divers from all walks of life – retirees, doctors, school employees, firefighters and others who are passionate about diving and just as passionate about the marine world. We believe there are more folks like that out there.”
The Dive Team is being expanded for one of the most popular presentations in the Aquarium: speaking to guests from within the “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit several times each week. As the sharks swim by with seemingly no interest, one diver equipped with a communications mask explains to guests why the divers feel safe and also shares facts that burst the common myths about sharks. Those presentations have been suspended – temporarily – since the Aquarium reopened from its COVID closure in June.
“The ‘shark dives’ always draw a crowd in front of the exhibit, and right now – as the Aquarium encourages social distancing – we don’t want to pack that space with guests,” DeGrim said. “But we do want to have a Dive Team in place and ready when the time comes to resume those programs.”
The Dive Team also presents The Maritime Aquarium’s annual “Shark-Diving Santa” photo opportunities each December. And volunteer divers may be asked to assist with occasional tasks that support other aquatic exhibits from within.
To be eligible for the Aquarium Dive Team, volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have:
• Advanced Open Water certification (or equivalent experience),
• logged at least 25 open-water dives,
• Divers Alert Network (DAN) insurance,
• current first-aid and C.P.R. certification,
• a signed physician’s clearance to dive,
• and the ability to pass a swim and SCUBA assessment, offered offsite at Velo-CT in Norwalk in June.
Dive Team volunteers are asked to commit to at least 12 four-hour shifts per year. Weekday and weekend shifts are available.
“We do require a commitment from volunteers,” DeGrim said. “We’re not looking for people who just want to do it once to say they did it.”
But what about the sharks?
“They’re the stars,” DeGrim said. “Like with any divas, just give them space and respect.”
Learn more, including how to sign up, at www.maritimeaquarium.org/volunteer.