By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

What’s It Like To Be A Tennessee Aquarium Volunteer Diver?

Try SCUBA at the Chattanooga Market June 4 & 5

Chattanooga, Tenn. –  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a SCUBA diver, you can take the plunge June 4 & 5 at the Chattanooga Market.

DEMA190Mark Craven, the Tennessee Aquarium’s dive safety officer, has been working with the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association, DEMA, to bring a 15,000 gallon mobile pool to town. The “Go Dive Now Pool” travels the U.S. to give the public the chance to try SCUBA diving in a safe environment – free of charge. “People will be able to try the sport of SCUBA diving and learn about the Aquarium’s volunteer dive program,” said Craven. “It’s a great way to experience the sport and gain a new perspective on our underwater world.”

DEMA Go Dive Now pool3190The Go Dive Now Pool will be set up adjacent to the Chattanooga Market, near the First Tennessee Pavillion, June 4 & 5. Anyone, ages 10 and up, can gear up and spend a little time underwater just like the volunteer SCUBA divers at the Aquarium. (Kids ages 10 to 12 must be accompanied in the water by a parent or guardian.) The trial dive experience is being offered free of charge in celebration of World Oceans Day (June 8). “Participants will need to bring their own swim suit, and a towel, but all of the other equipment will be provided,” said Craven. “Changing rooms will be available on site.”

The Aquarium has 185 volunteer SCUBA divers who help clean and maintain exhibits, feed animals and even deliver live education programs while underwater. These divers come from all professional walks of life and a wide range of ages. 

More than half of the divers travel a considerable distance to take advantage of the volunteer SCUBA program at the Aquarium. Some divers travel from as far away as Kentucky for the opportunity to spend time in crystal-clear waters with sea turtles, sharks, rays and massive catfish, sturgeon and paddlefish. “We have an incredible group of volunteers who enjoy interacting with our animals while keeping their diving skills sharp and supporting our mission,” said Craven. “But because we dive at the Aquarium 363 days each year, we could always use more divers from the local area.”

DEMA A volunteer diver in the TN Aquariums Nickajack Lake exhibit credit John Bamber 190Craven says there is no waiting list to become a volunteer diver at the Aquarium. Anyone who meets the requirements and successfully completes a pool test can join the next class when recruiting begins again in January. 

Interested divers can learn more at: http://www.tnaqua.org/volunteer-opportunities/volunteer-diver

Go Dive Now Pool at the Chattanooga Market
Saturday, June 4 from 11am to 7pm
Sunday, June 5 from Noon to 4pm

Free to anyone ages 10 and up. (Ages 10-12 must be accompanied in the water by a parent or legal guardian.)

Tennessee Aquarium Volunteer SCUBA Diver Facts
-       The Aquarium has185 volunteer SCUBA divers.
-       83 divers are from the immediate Chattanooga area – the rest travel more than one hour to dive at the Aquarium
-       Last year volunteers logged more than 6,000 dives in the Aquarium

According to DEMA, there are between 2.7 and 3.5 million active SCUBA divers in the U.S., nearly half of the active SCUBA divers worldwide. 

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $29.95 per adult and $18.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $11.95 per adult and $9.95 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $37.95 for adults and $26.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $32.00 per adult and $24.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.