At first, I was a bit nervous because A)I haven’t dove in at least 2 years (how do you clear the air again??) B) As you can see from the pic above, coming off the dock into the tank that huge shadow is an enormous mantaray, one of a bunch that circle around the dock when you dive in. Sweet I know – but intimidatingly ginormous when you’re first entering the water C) Did I mention the huge 6-7+ feet sand sharks? D) How to do a handstand with scuba gear, something everyone should try!
Well there was no time to be nervous, really. And the staff at the Georgia Aquarium (Connie who is a dive master and did the education part beforehand, Jonathan who was my dive master on the actual dive, and Jennifer, one of many great volunteers, etc.) really explained everything thoroughly and make you feel really safe.
Seeing people in the aquarium peering in at you was wild- we were part of the exhibit! My boyfriend is not a diver so he followed me around the tank on dry land and took these pics.
Here’s one of the big guys!! What’s amazing is that the Georgia Aquarium does a tremendous amount of research on conservation and protecting the ocean and all its wildlife. Because their four whalesharks were imported from Taiwan, they have worked with the Taiwanese government to now ban hunting these gentle giants over there! To learn about how you can help support the Georgia Aquarium’s amazing and important efforts, click here.
When I was in Bora Bora a few years ago also working on a film, I remember the Stingray being like playful puppy dogs. Here, the giant mantarays are so playful also, and love the diving bubbles, doing flip after flip after flip.
Seeing their enormous wingspans float by you, plus the 5 ton whalesharks slip a few feet past my shoulder, plus the 5000 other fish in the tank, including the huge grouper…was almost overwhelmingly wonderful.
I made a new friend once I got out of the big tank. :)
The awesome staff gave me a little bit of a behind the scenes tour. There’s so much happening to maintain the Georgie Aquarium, not to mention all the ongoing important research that happens daily!
If you love the ocean and animals you too can have this experience! It supports the Georgia Aquarium’s important work, and you’ll never get the same kind of intimate experience being in the world of the whalesharks and mantas.
If you aren’t a certified diver, you can also do a snorkel/swim, as an option. Check it out.
Hope you can get your own pics of these gentle giants, which remind us how incredible and diverse nature is, and how important it is to respect it.