1 December 2012
by Andy Hunt
The weather wasn’t promising and most of the club were off to Malta where the weather was only slightly better. Then one of our members, Michael Keenleyside, rang having received an invitation for the branch to dive with seals in the morning and then in the tropics in the afternoon.
It turned out the Aquarium at Tynemouth needed a bit of window cleaning.
The dive team needed to be small and there was a bit of paperwork to sort out first. The official process is to complete a risk assessment and email this to BSAC HQ together with some details of the arrangements. They help to make sure it is robust and can also help ensure that you (and also the Aquarium) do not accidentally breach the HSE Diving at Work regulations. Once the risk assessment and arrangements are accepted, you get a nice letter from BSAC HQ to confirm you have gone through the appropriate process.
The Aquarium also has some next of kin paperwork to complete. We provided a copy of our qualifications and also the risk assessment.
We got a full brief of the facilities and also the task at hand. In the large pool outside we were allowed to wear fins. It is cold water and has seals that largely stay out of the way. The algae on the walls here are particularly tough to remove and doing so certainly keeps you warm. We seemed to be as much an attraction to the visitors as the seals!
The tropical tank is indoors and at a temperature of about 24 degrees C. This is a good place to warm up after being submerged in the cold water tank. No fins are allowed in this tank however, so you need to be a little overweighted to moonwalk across the bottom. The algae here is a bit easier to remove but the top bit is a little out of reach and team work between the buddy pair is required to reach the top of the tank and clean it effectively.
The tanks need cleaning regularly so we are hoping to help out again in the future.