Tuesday, March 18, 2008

i already miss shedd

I volunteer as a diver at the Shedd Aquarium.

I dive and give presentations in the Caribbean Reef Exhibit. I'm in a wetsuit, diving in the exhibit, and I have a crazy microphone/earphone contraption like a fighter pilot, so I can chat while I feed the fishies and take questions -- a floor programs employee walks around with a microphone, so audience members can ask questions directly. It's the coolest gig I'll ever do in my life.

In a 5 hour shift, you probably spend about 30 minutes underwater (but what a half hour!). When you're not diving, you're cleaning stuff and weighing food and chopping food. Anyone behind the scenes might have food, and the fish know it:

Apparently I should mention that this photo is not of carrots floating in water, as Dad thought.
Dad - "What picture of fish?"
Me - "The only photo!"
Dad - "You mean the carrots?"
These fellas are all mushed up against the side of their tank because they're hoping I'll have food for them.

I don't even know how many times I came to Shedd Aquarium growing up, or how many times Dad took me on the overnighters and we'd camp out below the alligator snapping turtle because I liked watching its tummy fill up with air when it'd breath. I remember seeing divers in the Caribbean Reef, and if I could go back in time and tell that kid that one day, he'd be the diver... boy, what a gig. It's the coolest gig I've ever done in my life. I've worked for NASA (SETI, no less!), I was a professional juggler for the San Francisco Opera, I've played ultimate frisbee in the finals of Nationals, I've done all sorts of lucky things, but by far being a Caribbean Reef Diver at Shedd is the coolest gig I've ever done. If I tell 100 people what I do at Shedd (and I have...), all one hundred, every single one, says "WOW!" It's something I'll never forget. Being a Shedd diver will remain one of the highlights of my entire life.

April 13th, 2008 will be my last dive.

Top 3 best questions folks have asked me during Q&A (after the presentation, while still in the water feeding whatever still needs to be fed, folks can ask questions):

#1 - Little girl, maybe 4 years old: "ummm... ummm.... where do you sleep?"
#2 - Tiny boy, maybe 3 years old: "Do you like my shirt?"*
#3 - Man, maybe 40 years old: "Yeah, um, how do you keep your hair dry in there?"

* - It turns out after the dive I saw that kid, and he had a green shirt with a ghost on it and one of those red no-smoking (\) things over it, and it said GHOSTBUSTERS. I really liked his shirt.

Cuda, alev hashalom. You were my favorite special feeding.

Nickel, I've never met someone so passionate about lettuce.

One cannot have enough
of this delicious stuff!


Anonymous said...

the shedd has really been the best but i also liked seeing you juggle at the san francisco opera because of all the sophistos there

Jake Cooper said...

So it turns out my camera, in video mode, captures sound. I did not know that.

What would you do, feed her alone in silence? Informatively narrate? No, you'd see an adorable turtle and you'd talk to her. And you'd learn she's very nice. She's a vegetarian, and a healthy eater and active swimmer, bringing her in at a lithe buck forty or so. We could really have something going, but you know, she's a turtle and all. Plus she's way too young.

I guess all the anonymous comments with no punctuation are going to be Dad stop