Peter Landecker Diving at the Aquarium of the Pacific
On Saturday, July 22, 2006, I was invited to dive at the
Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. I had a blast! It was against
Aquarium policy to caress the very tame fish while in public view. However, to
get into the tank once (out of view of the public), when I was about to do some
feeding, there was a ray that was waiting where I wanted to put my foot. The
team leader encouraged me to grab the ray and gently shove him/her to the side!
I did 5 dives in alternate Aquarium display tanks that afternoon, and had to
rinse my gear and take a shower between dives (so as to not risk transmitting
diseases between Aquarium tanks). Between the last two dives, I had to hustle since in only 15 minutes I had to take off my gear and place it in a rinse tank,
take a shower, put my gear back on, and go to another tank. The best part of the
afternoon was when the lead Aquarium Diving Safety Officer Derek met me early in
the afternoon and told the team something like "Peter is a great diver, no need
to worry about him". The dive team was a little short that day, and for the last
two dives, the Aquarium dive team really needed a safety diver for the fellow
talking through his mask, so I felt I was doing some good. I had to use the LB
Aquarium's diving equipment, so that was different. My weighting on the first
dive was about two pounds too light, but subsequent dives were fine. We were
using 63 cubic foot tanks, and I did the first three dives on one tank. I
probably could have done all 5 dives on one tank, but the Aquarium is quite
conservative. I had to log my dives on their PC. At one time, when I was feeding
the fish, a big one put his mouth all around my hand, so for a moment, my hand
was inside a fish's mouth. It happened so fast. Apparently, the most asked
question by the audience that afternoon was "What is that diver carrying?", as
they had never seen an underwater video rig before. Even the fish were curious,
staring putting their eyeballs literally just in front of the camera port;
perhaps they saw their reflection. The kids of all ages were so friendly,
waving, and trying to touch me through the thick glass. Eye contact really
helped. But there were so many eyes, and so little time. I felt like the entire
audience was enchanted by the divers, that we really made their day. Almost
everyone was smiling! The dives were over so quickly. I would have liked to have
lingered. I took the regulator out of my mouth and blew some bubbles. Then I
wanted to show off so I removed my mask. But the Aquarium hood was different
from mine, and I had to briefly struggle to get my mask back on. The team leader
wondered what I was doing, and was relieved when I returned his OK sign. The
black sea bass and sharks were so tame, and came right up to and mostly ignored
the divers. I got some great close-up video, especially with the lighting level
so good. I was careful to position myself to the side of the diver giving the
Prior to my first dive, I was in the audience when lead Aquarium Safety
Diving Officer Derek Smith was making a presentation from one of the tanks using
his audio mask. He introduced me as having been in the first group of volunteer
certified Research Divers, as part of a Reef Check California training. Derek
had been an observer and instructor on that dive trip to Anacapa and Santa Cruz
Islands. Derek noted the important unbiased marine environment database work
done by organizations such as Reef Check. If you want more information about
Reef Check California, click here. If you want
more information about the Aquarium of the Pacific, click here.
The first two photos are by Cathy Mueller, the next three are by Mark Bobb,
the next four are by Lenore Snodey, and the last two are by Peter Landecker.
Crowd waving at Peter.
Peter and his buddy.
taking a photo of Lenore taking photo of Peter!
Peter smiling, without his regulator.
Peter with his video
Peter feeding the
Peter and his video
Peter and a giant sea
Divers entering the
Lead Safety Diver
Derek making a presentation to the gallery.
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