Georgia Aquarium Dive With the Mantas!

The manta rays were up close and personal for my fourth volunteer dive at the Georgia Aquarium! I’ve already talked about my first and second volunteer SCUBA dives at the Georgia Aquarium. Here, I’ll write a little bit about my 3rd dive, and more about my amazing 4th dive. Included will be some tips, tricks, and lessons about how the Georgia Aquarium keeps maintenance easy and fun, and how that can apply to your home aquarium tank!

So, my 3rd volunteer dive was in the Ocean Voyager tank.  This is the largest aquarium tank in the world. Our mission on this dive was to attach a vacuum and filter pipe to its vertical wall pipe and bury it along the floor of the tank. I submerge, find my fellow divers, and take a minute to admire all of the amazing, graceful fish in the aquarium. The black tip reef sharks, giant groupers, sand tiger sharks, leopard whip tail rays, and whale sharks seem to follow us over to the back corner of the aquarium. There, we get the pipe, bring it to the bottom of the tank and start moving the sand substrate to make a trough to bury the pipe in. We then put the pipe into the appropriate location, attach it to its vertical wall pipe, and secure it before we push all of the sand substrate back over the pipe to make sure that it is properly buried. Once that is finished we move on to cleaning the acrylic viewing windows of the aquarium. Finally, we bring some food down and broadcast feed the fish! I surface with about 550 psi left in my air tank.

My 4th volunteer dive was just yesterday, 2/22/12, and was the most amazing dive yet! The mission was fairly routine. We had to scrub some of the rock work near the main, large viewing window before we scrubbed the acrylic and fed the fish. I had been told that the harder you scrub the rock work, the closer the manta rays get, and this was so very true today! I picked a piece of rock work that looked encrusted with algae and sand and started putting in some elbow grease. The next thing I know Nandi, the biggest and oldest manta ray in the aquarium, is swooping down, doing feeding loops within inches of me. She opened her mouth wide, used the scooping action of her cephalic lobes and was filter feeding on all of the food that I was detaching from the rock work for her. Once or twice, her fin ran right into me. At times I had to stop, look around once in a while just so I wouldn’t miss her amazing beauty and grace as she flew through the water just inches from me. This is why I love being a volunteer diver at the Georgia Aquarium! After helping to clean some of the acrylic I surfaced with exactly 500psi.

So yes, we’re scrubbing, and cleaning the tank every time we dive, but it is great fun to observe how the fish interact with us and love the fact that we are keeping their environment so very clean. Apply this to your home aquarium! When you’re doing some of your routine maintenance observe how your pet fish interact with you, and how much your fish, plants, and invertebrates enjoy the benefits of a clean, healthy tank!

If you’d like more information about about how to become a volunteer SCUBA diver at an aquarium near you, sign up for our free Aquarium Tip Tank e-updates and news!

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