Posted by: Ellen Prager
Late April, Good Morning America’s Sam Champion and crew made a special visit to Aquarius. Sam and two underwater photographers dove with us to shoot for a piece that aired this monday on the show. If you weren’t able to catch the piece, here are the high res and low res versions.
Lucky for all the day was sunny and relatively calm, seasickness was a worry, might not have gone over so well had any of our VIPs been visiting the ship’s rail. Before diving, I made the underwater photographers promise that no unflattering butt shots would be taken. They laughingly agreed. Although a relatively new diver, Sam did well and his enthusiasm was infectious. After a bit of time adjusting his buoyancy we dove down to Aquarius. Surrounded by fish, Sam’s eyes grew large within his mask. Once at Aquarius, we had two of our divers at the ready and carefully breached the air space at the moon pool, took off our tanks, and climbed in. He was amazed at how simple it was and yet, there he was standing in air, some 50 feet below the surface.
For Sam, like most people, the first time inside Aquarius can be a bit overwhelming and he had lots and lots of questions. What did we eat? What kind of science do we do? How is sleeping…..? During our interview you can see him continually looking out the viewport in wonder. After a quick tour, many good questions, and the interview we donned our wetsuits and returned to the sea and then the boat.
Sam’s excitement was also obvious on a second dive around the outside of Aquarius as he pointed to a medium sized grouper in awe, it was put in perspective when I showed him the much larger goliath grouper hanging out nearby. We were lucky that day to also find a large green moray eel lazily lounging at the entrance and two eagle rays that swam in circles around the habitat showing off their graceful undersea moves. Just the abundance of fish and their lack of fear of divers is always something to behold – one reason we are grateful to be in a research-only zone within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The day was a lot of fun and the whole crew was great, thanks to our staff also who make these events come off without a hitch. And most importantly, thanks to GMA for showcasing the wonders of the ocean, the need for continued exploration and research in the sea, and of course, the world’s only undersea research station – Aquarius Reef Base.
Chief Scientist, Aquarius Reef Base