Dive with the Sharks Aquarium Dive at the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay




Dive with the Sharks at Tampa Bay Aquarium provides a unique opportunity for certified Scuba divers (aged 15 and older), to come face-to-face with real sharks! Guests are invited to scuba dive within the Aquarium's largest tank, the Coral Reef Exhibit, in warm clear water to come up close with sharks, moray eels, barracuda and green sea turtles!

Dive with the Sharks program dispels the commonly held myth that sharks are man-eaters. This unique scuba diving experience helps to educate and inspire a greater understanding of these amazing animals through a personal interactive experience.



Address:
The Florida Aquarium
701 Channelside Drive
Tampa, Florida 33602

Phone:
Call (813) 273-4015 to reserve your spot. Advance booking is essential!

Reservations can also be made online here


Opening hours:

Dive with the Sharks is open daily to scuba divers at designated times only, with advance arrangement.

The program is ~ 90 minutes and includes an educational presentation about sharks and a 30-minute dive in the Coral Reef exhibit.

Start times vary depending on time of year: Morning dives are usually at 9:00am or 10:00am, and the afternoon dives are at 3:30pm or 4:00pm

Driving directions from Dayo Scuba Dive Center: (Drive time: 1.5 hours, 90 miles)

1. Leave the dive center and turn left on Executive Dr towards Lee Raod.
2. Turn right onto Lee Road and make an immediate U turn back towards I-4.
3. Merge left onto I-4 via the ramp, heading West.
4. Take Exit 1, SR-585, toward 21st Street/22nd Street.
5. Turn left on 21st to Highway 60 (Adamo Drive).
6. turn right on to Highway 60 to Channelside Drive
7. Take a left on York Street to Aquarium parking.


Admission Fee:

Admission is $175 per diver, which must be paid in full beforehand. This dive fee is non refundable and non transferable, and includes Aquarium admission for the diver, a shark diver hat and a photograph of the diver during the experience.

Parking costs $6.

All scuba diving equipment is provided and included in the cost; you may bring your own mask.

Certificates, t-shirts and extra pictures/videos are available at an extra cost of $40.

Maximum of 2 people per dive. You must advise the following information for each diver at the time of booking: shoe size, height, weight, date of last dive, certification agency, and certification level.



Amenities available at Dive with the Sharks:
- All dive equipment is included in the fee
- Restaurants on site
- Gift shop

Diving Dive with the Sharks:

Divers must bring their bathing suit, towel and dive certification card. All dive areas and changing facilities are handicapped accessible.

The divers scuba gear is prepared by the staff, as liability forms are filled in and a detailed safety briefing and orientation to the rules of the aquarium is given.

A dive briefing is given before the dive, and the actual dive itself lasts 30 minutes. There are two guest divers allowed in the tank at a time, and the buddy pair is paired with a Florida Aquarium dive master whose sole responsibility is your safety.

The divers will exit the shark cage with an aquarium dive master and position themselves in the exhibit for optimal viewing of the sharks and other animals. Family and friends can view the divers during all phases of the dive from the exhibit gallery.

The Florida Aquarium dive master reserves the right to deny any guest diver the opportunity to leave the shark cage if the safety of the guest diver or the animals in the exhibit are in jeopardy.




Pre-dive Safety Check:

The divemasters guide and supervise the entire dive, it is very important that you follow the divemasters instructions. There is a dive master in the exhibit with the buddy team at all times, and one surface tender present during all dives. It is a very well run and efficient affair.

All buddy pairs should do a predive safety check on the platform to make sure that regulators and inflators are working, and there are no leaks. Also, make sure you go over your buddies gear, and have your buddy go over your gear to make sure you are both familiar with each others equipment. The divemasters will double check that your air is on, and attend to any gear issues.




Water temperature and condition:

The water temp is a constant 76F all year round. The staff provides wetsuits for all the divers, these are quite adequate for the dive.

The visibility is in the aquarium is 100+ feet.


What you can expect to see:


The Coral Reef Exhibit is a 500,000-gallon saltwater aquarium home to sharks, sea turtles and more than 2,000 other fish found in Florida waters!

Some of the sharks that you will see include Tiger sharks and Reef Sharks. These animals are well used to scuba divers, make sure you swim close to them, so the videographer can get some good video footage!

What is also great fun is swimming up to the viewing areas to look out at the other visitors, people walking around, and also people sitting in the restaurant eating their dinner!


Environmental Interaction Suggestions:

PLEASE RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND WILDLIFE. Do not harass and of the sea creatures! If you are found to be harassing any of the animals in the tank, you will be asked to leave and will not be refunded your money.

Please keep your buoyancy and trim in check at all times. The more natural you are in the water, the less afraid fish will be of you, so you will have more close up encounters!




Dive Procedures:

Maintain visual contact with your buddy and the divemaster at all times.

Dive time is limited to 30 minutes or until divers reach ~500 psi.

An aluminum 80 lasts most divers 30 minutes of swimming around.


Emergency Procedures:

Due to the incredible visibility and small area, it is not really possible to lose sight of your buddy or divemaster in the tank.

If a diver runs low on air, signal the tour guide or any of the divemasters with the appropriate hand signal and begin your ascent with one of them. They will swim you back to the platform.

For an unusual out of air emergency, all the divemasters are equipped with spare air bottles, and can bring divers back to the surface.

Any emergencies will be handled by the well equipped and well trained divemasters on the scene. Emergency oxygen and first aid kits are onsite for all diving operations. The dive and security team have a well-practiced emergency action plan in order to handle medical emergencies. All team members are trained in the use of emergency oxygen, first aid and CPR.

Enjoy your dive, be safe and have fun!


Check out the Florida Aquariums official video here




Photos courtesy of Laura Smith