Scuba Club swims with sharks

Ryan Anderson

The Scuba Club was given the chance to swim with sharks and other sea creatures at the Mall of America’s Sea Life Aquarium.

“We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium to see all the turtles and the other aquatic animals,” said Mark Humphreys, president of the Scuba Club and sophomore in chemical engineering. Humphreys has been scuba-certified for four years.

The Scuba Club has been around at Iowa State for more than 20 years and currently has 50 members.

According to the Scuba Club’s website, they are a student organization for both divers and nondivers to take part in scuba exercises, learn better skills, plan dives and attend social events.

“We wanted to start off with a small dive, and I‘ve been through the aquarium before as a kid and remember thinking, I really want to go diving in there,” said AJ Tjaden, excursions director for the scuba club and a freshman in international business and marketing. Tjaden has been scuba diving since he was 12 years old.

The club contacted the Mall of America in Minnesota to plan the scuba diving excursion in the Sea Life Adventure.

“They were really happy to work with us. It was entertainment for their aquarium,” Humphreys said.

Scuba Club was allowed to dive into two tanks: a freshwater tank that was meant to resemble a lake and a salt water tank with sharks.

“Where can you say in the Midwest: I got to dive with sharks?” Tjaden said.

They entered the freshwater tank first to show that they were comfortable being swarmed by fish.

“Just in case a shark got past the barrier and touched you, you aren’t going to freak out and spook the sharks,” Humphreys said.

The Sea Life Aquarium houses more than 10,000 sea creatures and hold over 14,000 gallons of water in one tank.

The club was able to explore underwater for about an hour and 30 minutes total.

“It was the only time I’ve ever felt like a celebrity; we were in the tanks with people waving at us from the inside,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys said his favorite part of the Sea Life adventure was being able to swim with the sharks.

“We were all so ecstatic about it,” Tjaden said.

The Scuba Club is open for everyone and anyone; they offer scuba diving certification classes for those who have never done it before.

“We are trying to get people who are interested in marine biology but also those who are not to join the club,” Humphreys said.