Giant Ocean Tank
Boston Sea Rovers Intern
Dives into Aquarium Experience
By Jake Stout
Boston Sea Rovers intern
Every year, the Boston Sea Rovers, one of the oldest dive clubs in the world, chooses an intern for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As the 2018 intern for the Boston Sea Rovers, I got the chance to travel and dive around the country and world. As part of the internship, different Sea Rovers hosted me on their projects, and I have had the opportunity to work with many world-renowned professionals in all fields of diving.
For my internship, I focused on underwater photography because one day I would like to work for National Geographic as a photographer.
I want to be an underwater photojournalist because I believe that photography has the ability to bring wildlife to the forefront of people’s lives and show them why we should be conserving and protecting our planet. People can’t save what they don’t know. Photography is the bridge that brings knowledge to people in the hopes that they will understand, then care for, then protect nature.
As part of the internship, I traveled to Roatan, Honduras, Newfoundland, Canada, Baltimore, Monterey, the Great Lakes, and around New England.
Photos from Monterey, Newfoundland, and Roatan
During my internship, I also had the chance to work at the New England Aquarium in many of the departments. I worked with the penguins, marine mammals, cold water gallery, sea turtle rehab center, and animal health department. Of course, this being a diving internship, I worked with the Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) team.
Friend of the Boston Sea Rovers and GOT diver Dan Dolan brought me around the department and tank. Once I met Dan, he brought me up to the dive locker and kitchen, where I dropped off my stuff and got to work preparing food for the tank’s many inhabitants. I then got some lettuce ready for Myrtle, the green sea turtle. Myrtle weighs about 540 pounds and is the oldest and one of the most iconic animals at the Aquarium. Brought to the Aquarium in 1970, she has been a must-see ever since.
Once I finished preparing her salad, I then cut apart small bait fish, taking out the eggs to get ready for a feeding. The eggs are scattered into the water and the surrounding fish dart at the delectable caviar, ready to feast. During the rest of the morning, I stood on the platform above the tank feeding pieces of shrimp and fish to the needlefish and the lettuce I had prepared to Myrtle.
Myrtle was substantially easier to feed. She swam up slowly and gulped down the Brussels sprouts and lettuce. On the other hand, the needlefish were very hard to feed. As I threw pieces of shrimp and fish to them, other fish would see the bits of food above them and dart over to catch it the second it hit the water. The only way to get the needlefish to eat was to practically throw the food on top of their face so they could grab it before someone else did.
Diving in the GOT
After the morning feeding, I then headed back into the dive locker and got geared up to do a dive in the tank. Dan gave me a quick orientation as we swam the in the tank, which is 23 feet deep and 40 feet across and contains 200,000 gallons of water. I then grabbed my camera and went back down. The water in the tank is warmed to 74 degrees Fahrenheit from water taken from Boston Harbor. Diving in the GOT is the closest thing to a coral reef in New England. Even though all the coral in the tank is fabricated, the tank is buzzing with more than 800 animals.
While in the tank, I got to pet a green moray and scratch Myrtle’s back. I swam around looking at the many fish species from schools of grunts to the hogfish and French angelfish. I was mesmerized at how much the tank felt like a real reef community. I began to forget that I was even in a tank at all, except for the occasional wave at a kid outside.
My personal favorite fish is the black drum. A kind of ugly looking, brownish black fish about 3 or 4 feet long, it has short barbles under its chin. At one point, a grouper came near it and I found out why it’s called a black drum. It started making this deep, booming, drumming noise to scare away the grouper.
My time at the New England Aquarium was amazing! It was mesmerizing to see inside the tank that I had walked around so many times before as a freshman at Northeastern University majoring in photography. I hope to continue diving and making images of the GOT and maybe one day for National Geographic.