Monday, February 7, 2011

You're a Diver?

"So, what do you do for a living?" It's a common question and we tend to use it to understand someone we've just met. Your job, in many regards is simply that...a job. It fills the time between those pesky nine-to-five hours when watching the clock becomes a large part of the day. However, we often forget that in many ways, it is the work that we choose to do which defines a good portion of our personalities.
 From a very early age, we learn that dreaming about the ideal job is almost natural. As children, we envision doing something simple...something we love, like firefighting or acting. We dream of a job that will enrich our lives and make us want to get out of bed each morning, so now it is no wonder that we all strive for this feeling of contentment within the working world. Yet, as we grow into our adult selves, we realize more and more that employment is a diverse thing. Our interests often change somewhere along the road and our jobs soon place us into boxes that in many ways, make us interesting human beings.

Therefore, when answering the above question of "what do you do for a living?," most people are generally fascinated, yet somewhat confused to hear that you work as a diver at the Georgia Aquarium. "Do you actually swim with the sharks?!" "You get to dive? Everyday?" "So...what exactly do you do?"

These answers, since divers do get to swim with sharks on a daily basis, can generally be summed up with a simple "yes," but it is important to note that the reality of our job is much more than that. The workday of a diver is multifaceted in ways that the average person might not realize; however, in several regards it may also be a lot less glamorous than originally assumed.

When looking at the broad spectrum of positions available to divers at the Georgia Aquarium, most fall into two categories: Maintenance Diver or Dive Immersion Dive Master. While their job functions may have some overlap, they tend to be two separate entities.

To start, we'll look at the Maintenance Diver whose job description is two-fold. Considered both working and scientific, divers in this position are involved in almost all water exhibits within the facility. On the maintenance side, they are responsible for all inspection, repair, and moving of equipment inside the exhibits, as well as SCUBA gear servicing and up-keep. Daily tasks generally include filling air tanks, managing volunteer divers and keeping track of all dive records and certifications. On the other hand, however, the scientific job description enlists the Maintenance diver as an observer and data collector. Their responsibilities in this scenario include the collection of samples, making measurements, and documenting information about their aquatic surroundings.

In contrast, our divers who work within the Dive Immersion Program (DIP) focus more on interaction with Georgia Aquarium guests than their maintenance counterparts. All divers within this this department are certified Divemasters and their primary responsibilities include coordinating all guest dive experiences through our Journey with Gentle Giants swim and dive program. This program, which allows the general public an opportunity to enter our Ocean Voyager exhibit, is maintained by the divers within the DIP department who not only monitor divers and make sure all safety precautions are met, but who also keep track of all participant records as well.

However, while there is a lot of variability between our Maintenance Divers and our Dive Immersion employees, a joining factor between both areas is their participation in our continued dive training and education classes, which are frequently offered to enhance the skill of all our Georgia Aquarium divers.

In the end, it seems that no matter what the job, part of it rests within your heart. Plain and simple, as divers, we have all found a bit of ourselves within the water. I've heard it said that our jobs somewhat resemble that of "underwater janitors" because we spend much of our time cleaning and maintaining, scrubbing and fixing; however, while at times not so glamorous, doing something you love turns all of life's seemingly mundane tasks into something worthwhile...or rather, something that makes you answer "so, what do you do?" with a smile.


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