It's great to see a local aquarium reaching out to community members and giving them a chance to interact with their animals and exhibits, building a sense of community and gaining a new appreciation for wildlife. Lots of aquariums offer dive programs such as this, perhaps most famously Georgia Aquarium's program allowing guests to swim with their famous whale sharks.
As a dry-lander, it just occurred to me how bizarre this is from the zookeeper perspective. What would our equivalent be? Inviting visitors in for a hike across the elephant exhibit? A walk around the inside perimeter of the wolf enclosure? We'd collectively freak out at the idea. Or is this more or less the wet version of a walk-through aviary, albeit one where some of the "birds" are considerably larger than the visitors?
None of this is to suggest that there is anything wrong with these carefully monitored, closely supervised dive programs. I think they're a great asset to their facilities and their communities. It just goes on to reinforce for me - I'll never understand aquarium management, no matter how hard I try.
Shandi Black (left), Kayla Jakubczak, Matt Riey, Rob Williams, Justin Sisco, Lopaka Bounds. (NCARI)