Mark Fitzgibbon recently joined the Visitor Services team at the Two Oceans Aquarium, tasked with exhibit interpretation and providing excellent customer experiences. He is a man of many talents: UCT honours graduate majoring in biological sciences, a radio presenter on Good Hope FM and a notorious South African Youtuber. Mark recently had the chance to take his first dive in our I&J Ocean Exhibit - an experience he'd like to share.
I was drawn to the Aquarium by my love of conservation and marine life. Working in an environment where all staff members share this same passion for healthy oceans is simply amazing.
One of those passionate staff members is Simon Leigh, a diver who feeds the turtles, fish and the stingrays. His passion for the oceans shines through when doing feed presentations and when talking about anything marine related. As a guide I saw Simon get into the I&J Ocean Exhibit day in and day out, and I wondered what it would feel like to get a view from within the exhibit.
On 8 July, I decided I would take the plunge. I had never scuba dived before, so I needed to complete a compulsory Discover Scuba dive course before being allowed into the exhibit. Honestly, this already gave me a few nervous shivers down my spine.
However, once I got the gist of breathing underwater and got into the exhibit, I did not want to leave. The water was a warm 20 degrees Celsius and the visibility in the water was pristine. Having looked into the exhibit from the outside for so long, and now being able to see it from within, I was overcome with a sense of wonderment and bewilderment.
The first thing I noticed was the silence. It was probably the most peaceful place I have ever been in my life. With just the sound of my breathing and the odd swish of water, I was put into a trance of pure tranquillity.
Next, I noticed all of the animals that I’ve come to know face to face. The stingrays glided over my head, sometimes grazing the side of my body with their peristaltic wings. The two green turtles, Bob and Sandy, both came down from the medical pool to greet us and receive shell rubs.
I could also feel the stares of some curious visitors who were amazed at the sight of divers in the water - I could see them as clearly as I could see the fish. Moving through the water was easier than I expected, with the fins giving me an extra push.
I was able to answer some of the questions I had had about the exhibit, like “What is in that cave in the corner?”, “How rough is Yoshi’s shell?” and “What does a stingray actually feel like?” These were some of the burning questions I had that could only be answered if I physically got into the exhibit myself. I highly suggest you go and answer them for yourself too.
After the diving experience, I got out and took a warm shower before collecting my things and going back down to tell everyone about my experience.
I now feel like I can interpret the Ocean exhibit on a much more detail, and my passion for the ocean has only grown. I would like to thank the diving team for this amazing opportunity - they will definitely see me again soon.
Experience a dive for yourself
If you're like Mark, and have no previous experience, that's no problem! Our on-site dive master, Iain Robertson, has a dedicated dive training pool at the Aquarium, where you can complete a one-day Discover Scuba qualification. This will allow you to dive safely in the I&J Ocean Exhibit on the same day.
If you'd like to experience even more underwater wonders, you can complete the full PADI Open Water and/or Advanced courses here too.
Enquire now by calling (+27 (0)21 418 3823) or emailing us.
We can't wait to sea you.