On September 3rd I had the opportunity to Scuba Dive in Disney’s “Living Seas” aquarium. A truly unique experience. It started with a “back stage” tour of the Living Seas aquarium where the explained some of the daily routine that maintains the aquarium. (Since Disney is a production company, everything and everyone are referred to as if on set). One of the more interesting tidbits of information is that the same truck that delivers food to the restaurant inside the aquarium, also delivers the food for the fish IN the aquarium. Their point, was to let us know that the fish eat “restaurant quality” food. What I heard was that the food I would be eating is the same thing the fish would be eating. Hmmmmm. Not sure about that one.
After the back stage tour, they took us to the locker rooms so that we could change into our wetsuits and get ready to “get wet”. They then took us “on stage” and paraded us through crowds of tourists watching the fish in the aquarium, and the “live bait” heading upstairs in skin tight wetsuits to dive into the tank. (Suck in the gut folks!) Once at the top of the aquarium, we were given a safety brief and then shown to our Scuba Gear. This is one of the really nice things about this dive. All equipment was provided for you, and in true Disney fashion, they didn’t skimp for the cheap stuff. 🙂 Once geared up, we all descended to the bottom of the aquarium (25 feet) and followed the dive master as he took us on a tour around the aquarium to point out some of the cooler aspects of the aquarium. We then got the sign to “buddy up”, and have some fun. I was buddied with the two dive masters that coordinated this dive since I didn’t have a “buddy” to do this with, which turned out to be better than I anticipated. Better than that, at two months dive experience (this being my tenth dive to date) I had no problem keeping up with them.
We began swimming around to get the lay of the aquarium. One of the highlights of my dive was seeing the excitement on the faces of the little kids that were watching us. Some of the smaller kids just stared in absolute amazement. At one point, I approached the window and played “patty cake” with a little girl that was maybe 3 or 4 years old. It took her a minute to figure out what I was doing, but when she caught on, her face lit up with the brightest smile and she came up to the window and played patty cake. We then moved on to the window at the restaurant and waved to the folks eating their meal. All I could think of was that they were eating fish food. 🙂 But again, the kids got a real kick out of seeing us, and someone, somewhere, has a picture of me on their iPhone giving a thumbs up. We then followed the dive master around as he showed us some of the “swim through’s” that take you in and around the coral. We were all originally advised not to swim into any holes or tunnels. But I guess these are the perks for being paired with the dive masters. At one point I was allowed to take the lead. I just cruised around and took in the sights. There was a lot to see. We went back to the windows and waved at the tourists again. As I turned around to head back to the middle of the aquarium, I came nose to nose (like, no more than two inches between his and mine) with a sand tiger shark. I am told that my eyes widened to about 3 times their normal size. But I kept my cool, he moved to my right and just swam on by. Now I remember during my certification classes that things underwater appear to be larger than they actually are. I will attest to that. There is no doubt about it. Because while I also remember being told that these sharks were no longer than about 8 or 9 feet long, he looked like he was about 100 feet long and it seemed like it took forever for him to pass me. It took a couple of seconds, but was able to compose myself and continue moving. But trust me when I say that I will not soon forget that particular experience.
The entire dive lasted 42 minutes, although I could have stayed for hours if they would have let me (and I didn’t run our of air). The experience of being in and around all that sea life is more than words can explain. It truly is a magnificent experience. I have been lucky enough to have grown up experiencing Gods creation on land in many different places. It is such an awesome adventure to now be able to experience Gods creation underwater. A land that is under normal circumstances alien, and even hostile to the human race. It is truly a magnificent. A wonder to behold. Our God truly is an AWESOME God. I can’t wait to one day share this wonderful world with my kids. And I hope they come to enjoy it as much as I do.
You can view a video of my experience by visiting me on Facebook and www.facebook.com/stephencilento.