Week 1 (6/6/2016-6/12/2016)
My 2016 OWUSS-AAUS Lee Somers Scientific Diving internship began with a road trip from Aurora, Colorado to Athens, Georgia. The trip was long, but I am excited to be here now. The first week of my internship was dedicated to getting all of the necessary paperwork and dives completed in order to process my Letter of Reciprocity (LOR) as an AAUS Scientific Diver with the University of Georgia (UGA). I have been working with Dr. Scott Noakes, the Diving Safety Officer (DSO) for the University System of Georgia. Scott took me on a tour of the UGA campus on Monday. The UGA Marine Science building has an indoor pool, which is where I did my confined water check-out dive with Scott on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday we traveled to Lake Jocassee, which was about two hours away in South Carolina. We met one of Scott’s students from his recent semester-long scientific diving course at the lake and we did three dock dives. The lake was very cold, probably the coldest water I have experienced to date. We were able to hit 105ft maximum depth in the lake, which was pretty awesome and very cold.
My next big adventure was on Friday when Scott and I drove to Atlanta, GA to visit the Georgia Aquarium which is also an AAUS institution. The aquarium is very impressive and has the second largest exhibit in the world. The Ocean Voyager exhibit holds 6.3 million gallons of water, four whale sharks, manta rays, and many more incredible marine organisms. Scott and I were able to dive in this exhibit during the daily dive shows that the dive program staff and volunteers put on for the aquarium guests (see photos). The dive locker for the Ocean Voyager exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium was massive. They set us up with their dive gear and we hopped in. Diving in Ocean Voyager was incredible. It is not particularly realistic because of the diversity and the quantity of fish in the exhibit, but it was truly a VIP diving experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my time visiting the Georgia Aquarium. We also watched the aquarists feed the whale sharks in Ocean Voyager and then toured behind the scenes of the Tropical Diver exhibit and peeked in the massive filter room for Ocean Voyager. The Georgia Aquarium is truly a great facility which works to spread conservation messages, teach people about the threats to the world’s oceans and they also conduct various field research projects.
Next, I will be traveling to Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah, Georgia where I will spend the remaining time of my internship working there and diving offshore of Georgia.