If you follow my Instagram stories then you already know that I recently got SCUBA certified so I could dive with the largest fish in the world, the whale shark. Georgia Aquarium is the only place in the western hemisphere where you can see whale sharks. Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager exhibit contains 6.3 million gallons of water and ranges from 20 to 30 feet deep.
Anyone can with a nationally recognized Open Water SCUBA certification can dive. If you aren’t a certified diver but would still like to swim with these giant animals, they also offer a snorkeling swim.
This exhibit houses thousands of fish including whale sharks, zebra sharks, sawfish, leopard whiprays, bowmouth guitarfish, humphead wrasses, pompano and several species of rays.
Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium in the US and one of the only places in the world to offer this type of rebreather experience. The Rebreather Dive experience lasts about 3.5 hours total and all of the equipment is provided. We had a quick debriefing and signed paperwork before checking out the Poseidon SE7EN Closed-Circuit Rebreather gear. It has the most powerful dive computer ever built and automated safety checks making rebreather diving easy, safe, and ideal for beginner divers.
Next we were shown to the locker room where we were each assigned a locker and given all of our gear. They provide the wetsuit, booties, and mask.
You are allowed to bring your own personal mask, which I did, but they clean them thoroughly before you get in the water. After the dive, towels, hot showers, soap and shampoo were provided.
During my dive there were 3 of us trying the Rebreather for the very first time, and 3 Dive Masters that dove with us for our safety and to ensure the safety of the animals. Like all dives, you dive with a specific buddy. My Dive Master buddy was Susan. She was very experienced and continually checked on me to make sure I was enjoying the experience.
If for some reason you are having issues or do not like the Rebreather Dive, you can surface and switch into regular SCUBA gear to complete your dive. They want you to have an enjoyable experience and will not pressure you to do anything you’re not comfortable with.
Since the Rebreather reuses your own warm, humid air, you stay warmer underwater and you get longer bottom times. The regular SCUBA Dive lasts about 30 minutes, while the Rebreather Dive lasts over an hour! Plus there are no bubbles with the Rebreather Dive which means the fish aren’t scared and will get very, very close to you.
The dive is not an animal interaction experience so you are not allowed to touch the animals. However the animals can and will touch you. The whale sharks are enormous and are obviously king of the tank. They will run you over so it’s your job to stay out of their way. I had a few small fish try to nibble at me, but the wetsuit protects you well so you see it and hear it more than you actually feel it. I was much more concerned with the Longcomb Sawfish with a face like a chainsaw that was circling around and around very close to me!
Friends and family are allowed to come watch you dive. They are given VIP treatment while you are in the water so they can see you. My husband and daughters were escorted by an employee with a dive flag to various spots around the tank to get a good view. Ocean Voyager features an 100-foot-long underwater acrylic tunnel and one of the largest viewing windows in the world so your family will have multiple opportunities to see you!
The Journey with Gentle Giants Rebreather Dive are only available on the weekends and costs $495.95 for non-members. It’s available to guests at least 15 years old and guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The Journey with Gentle Giants Snorkel Swim is available daily for participants at least 12 years old and costs a little over $200.
There are a limited number of spaces per swim and dive so book your encounter as early as possible. More than 200 participants have experienced the rebreather program in 2017! The cost includes admission to the Aquarium, all equipment, certificate of participation, exclusive t-shirt, souvenir photo and HD video of your experience. A portion of the proceeds from this program support the Aquarium’s research and conservation efforts. Check out my full video below!
I am a Georgia Aquarium Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts reporting my opinion, my family and I are provided complimentary tickets and compensation by the company or agency representing the company. All views and opinions are my own.