SCUBA diving a life-long passion for senior

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SCUBA diving a life-long passion for senior

Alexa Ignacio, Editor-in-Cheif

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Sunlight barely peeks through the choppy waves 100 feet above. It’s deathly silent and still, except for the occasional colorful fish swimming by. Large vibrant coral structures house these fish and other vegetation. It’s a whole different world under the sea, and senior Brandon Tucker never gets tired of it.

Tucker has been SCUBA diving for six years. He received his certification through a program at his middle school, Country Day School in Largo. He goes with his grandfather, who has been diving for 39 years.

Most of his dives occur over the summer. He recently went on a trip the Cayman Islands. Other locales he has gone diving include Bonaire, a Caribbean Island known as “Divers Paradise” and Belize in Central America. Tucker usually goes down between 80-100 feet, but the deepest he has gone is 130 feet at a popular tourist attraction in Belize called The Great Blue Hole.

“Before I dive, I’m anxious to find out what I’m going to see,” he said.

His diving experiences are both calming and relaxing. While most of his dives are fairly calm, he has had close encounters. On one dive at about 90 feet below, he was circled by some blacktip reef sharks. His reaction? Take out his GoPro and video it. “It was funny,” he said. “Our dive boat knew about them. One of the sharks was named Scarface because he had a little mark above his eye.” Luckily, blacktip reef sharks are not known to be aggressive. However, Tucker is not fazed by sharks and believes that people have given them a bad reputation.

“The attacks are just talked about a lot, so it makes people think, ‘Oh, they’re really dangerous’, but they’re not,” he said. “In reality, chances of getting bit by a shark are really low.”

Since getting his certification, Tucker has been on seven dives. He hopes to continue diving in the future, even branching out into cave diving.

“As long as I stay in Florida, I plan on doing open water diving,” Tucker said. “If I go up north, I plan on doing enclosed or cave diving.” Future areas of interest for him include Fiji and Ginnie Springs in High Springs Florida, northwest of Gainesville.

Going far below the surface is a treat that not many people get to experience. Whether it be the wildlife or just the calming feeling of the water away from the busy life above land, there’s always something new to experience. Hopefully, those who are able to dive will have the same passion and curiosity that Tucker has, which is what keeps him diving.

“It’s so beautiful and vibrant,” he said. “It’s a whole other world down there.”

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