CONNECTICUT -- A Connecticut aquarium is looking for volunteer divers to swim with sharks.
The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk wants experienced scuba divers who will willingly and regularly volunteer to plunge in among its 7 to 9 foot sharks.
Members of the aquarium's "Volunteer Dive Team" help make public educational presentations from inside a 110,000 gallon tank, which is home to six sand tiger sharks and one lemon shark.
"We have a good core group of divers from all walks of life - retirees, doctors, school employees, firefighters and others who are passionate about diving and just as passionate about the marine world," said Brendan DeGrim, the Aquarium's dive safety officer. "We believe there are more folks like that out there."
Aquarium officials said the team is being expanded for one of their most popular presentations: Speaking to guests from within the "Ocean Beyond the Sound" exhibit several times each week. As the sharks swim by with seemingly no interest, one diver equipped with a communications mask explains to guests why the divers feel safe and also shares facts that burst the common myths about sharks.
Those presentations were suspended, temporarily, since the Aquarium reopened from its COVID closure in June.
It is trying to get ready for when those programs can resume.
Volunteers must meet the following eligibility requirements: Advanced open water certification, or equivalent experience. Logged at least 25 hours in open water dives. Divers Alert Network insurance. Current first aid and CPR certification. Signed physician's clearance to dive. Ability to pass a swim and scuba assessment off site at Velo-CT in Norwalk. The volunteers would be asked to commit to at least 12 four-hour shifts per year.
"We do require a commitment from volunteers," DeGrim said. "We're not looking for people who just want to do it once to say they did it."
More information can be found on the The Maritime Aquarium's website.
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