I'm buying my gear (BC, wetsuit, dive skin, regulator, dive computer, some other stuff) on July 16th. My sister has arranged this dive so that under relatively safe circumstances, I can try out my stuff.
Diving in Marineland's saltwater tank:
- Directions from Tampa: It's on the way to Jacksonville. Take I-4 West and then I-95 North and look for signs.
- Conditions on the day of my visit: Sunny and *HOT*
- Personal Notes: Atlantic Pro Dive scheduled this trip as the students in a recent class will be doing certification dives. Marineland is (could soon be "was") an aquarium, originally used for filming movies. It turned into a tourist attaction, but it has been loosing money steadily. After a severe cut in staff and capability, they have opened on a temporary basis, and also do some research. For $65, you get time in their largest tank. It's not that big (only 18 feet deep), but it's a good first time saltwater dive. Here, as at Epcot, not only can non-divers watch (although it is quite difficult for a diver to see through the glass windows) but they'll actually be able to watch you assemble your gear (unlike Epcot). Also, there's no dive master here telling you when to get out of the tank...you can stay in for a full air tank.
Unfortunately, there's really not a whole lot to it, so it's doubtful you'll go through a whole air tank. However, you can touch the fish here (but of course not the three turtles), though the only ones that seem to tolerate it are the jewfish...which are quite large! Compared to DiveQuest, there is a larger variety of fish in a smaller area (including an eel). My sister liked this dive better (you can touch, stay in as long as air allows, and you can use your own gear); I thought the dive was a little cramped and there's something to be said for the way Epcot pampers you and has the facilities (and finances) to keep the tank clean.
I was so ready to buy gear...well, emotionally. Financially, I'll be in debt for a while and will actually have to cut down on expensive diving (anything over, say $50 more than once a month or once every two months). For the main gear, I got all Oceanic gear: Delta II regulator, OceanPro 5K BC with the integrated Air XS octo, DataTrans Plus dive computer, and a Nomad dive bag. I also got a compass on a retractable lanyard (someday I'll learn that navigation specialty), a 2-piece O'Neill wetsuit, and a ScubaPro dive skin.
Dive data for dives on this day: