Aug 16
Go scuba, get tanked

Here is an article from way back -

Go scuba, get tanked

By  Ryan Keen |

Feb. 20, 2008 | Print | Share | Recommend (0)

When people hear "scuba diving" brought up in conversation, they usually think back to a program they might have seen on the Discovery Channel or "National Geographic Explorer." Even E!'s Brooke Burke of "Wild On" has done shows about scuba diving. There are thousands of sport diving sites all around the world. Indiana doesn't boast many of those dive sites, but Bloomington and IU are known nationwide for producing some of the world's most avid recreational and technical divers. You can go to Key Largo and see a plaque crediting IU with establishing Florida's second shipwreck park, or you can visit the Texas Flower Gardens, Cozumel, Cayman Islands, Belize or anywhere else you can think of through local programs. Just let Bloomington dive shops know you are interested. These are some of the more popular sites, but bear in mind wherever you find yourself in the world, there is most likely a dive site worth visiting within a few hours of your location. The sport continues to gain popularity as it develops more sophisticated dive gear, curing a lot of apprehensions people might have about spending an hour several feet below the surface. There are also classes that offer certifications and practice in the pool to help ease the fears one might have before making it into an open water environment. The class to get certified contains a lot of the easy-to-remember information crucial to diver safety. If you ever go diving without having taken a class, know that the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) teaches that there are limits to depth and duration that can affect your health. The association says the No. 1 rule of scuba diving is "Never hold your breath." The association's Web site explains that "as a certified PADI Open Water Diver you have the freedom to dive with a buddy independent of a professional." PADI is one of the governing bodies of the diving community who offers certifications ranging from Discover Scuba to PADI Master Instructor. More information is available at Cory Retherford, a senior underwater archaeology major, is pursuing a career as an instructor through PADI. Retherford's five years of diving experience have led him to be concerned about the danger that coral reefs and unprotected shipwrecks face in having so many active divers in the water. Charles Beeker, director of the IU Underwater Science Program, says students involved in the Underwater Science Program must participate in some sort of field work, which is somewhat recreational but also offers the opportunity to complete underwater tasks such as mapping a shipwreck site or moving an 18th-century anchor from one spot to another. IU's main focus is on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary where there will be a research trip in May. Beeker says there will also be trips available to students going to California and the Dominican Republic during the summer months. The IU programs offer ways for those interested in scuba to both gain certifications and conduct research. There are several academic opportunities available, all of which are described at Most divers prefer diving for the sport of it, and for them there are other local options. There are two dive shops in town that also offer classes, gear, service, rental and trips. Those are Southern Indiana Scuba located on South Walnut just north of Grimes and Big Red Divers at 10th and the Bypass. Mark Brooks is the owner of Southern Indiana Scuba and a PADI Master Instructor. He has been diving for 15 years and currently makes around 150 dives a year. Brooks says the most rewarding part of instructing is "watching my students go from land-based little people to underwater divers." George Connolly, PADI Master Scuba Trainer at SIS, also says his favorite part of scuba diving is instructing. "I love sharing it," Connolly says. He has been diving for the last 16 years, but fell in love with the sport as a child watching Jacques Cousteau. Since modern scuba's invention by Cousteau in 1943, several wonders have been discovered around the globe. There are likely hundreds of undocumented marine species lurking below the surface, waiting for the right diver to stumble upon them. Whether you want to research marine life or just enjoy its beauty, scuba offers the means to explore the hidden mysteries of the sea. Brooks puts it much more simply. He says, "I like it because it's such a peaceful, relaxing place." "Says Keen" A warm and peaceful saltwater sea breeze propels a flock of seagulls against the backdrop of a tie-dyed sunset as a boat full of divers makes way for the site. This is my first night dive, so I'm a bit nervous, but we're diving a wreck I'm familiar with so I feel somewhat comforted. As I'm cooled by the disappearance of the sun and the mist of the ocean spraying my tender sunburned scalp, I can't help but look up to the sky to say a prayer of thanks. I can see people in the sky, Orion hunting his bull, Cassiopeia sitting on her throne, and I'm sad that they'll never get to see the underwater realm. I feel an overwhelming sense of purpose and reason. When the dive is over, I'm reborn. This all happened on my first scuba trip, and I became immediately addicted. I took three scuba classes through IU to round out my liberal arts education and signed up for a trip through a local shop. For spring break I was on my way to Key Largo, diving capital of the world. In Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park I saw shipwrecks, coral reefs, moray eels, loggerhead turtles, barracudas, octopi, nurse sharks… the list could go on and on. I'm planning three dive trips for the summer, to the Keys, North Carolina and Belize, and hope to make hundreds of dives in my life. The family tree of divers has thousands of branches and grows stronger with each new sprout. Whenever I see a dive flag sticker on a car bumper, I smile and wave, knowing that we share a secret.

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