Diving with Whale sharks, Mantas and fish, OH MY!

I had the amazing opportunity to go diving at the Georgia Aquarium on Sunday, July 9th 2023! Our dive began at 12 EST, so if you saw divers around that time in the ocean voyager exhibit, It was nice to meet you! I wanted to share with you all the details of my dive, some information about the aquarium and how you could experience this dive for yourself.

I am in no way affiliated with The Georgia Aquarium. Provided are my honest opinions and experience. Also provided are links, information, tools and a brief breakdown of what to expect based on my personal experience.

I grew up visiting the Georgia Aquarium as a little kid. Getting to experience it from the other side of the glass was unreal.

Below are hyperlinks to different portions of this post so that you can easily navigate to specific information!
*This post includes links to products that I earn commisions from at no extra cost to you.*

About the aquarium.

“The Georgia Aquarium is a non-profit committed to inspiring awareness and preservation of our ocean and aquatic animals world-wide.” – www.georgiaaquarium.org

The Georgia Aquarium is a non-profit organization that houses 11 million gallons of water. This aquarium offers a multitude of adventures to promote the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world.

Not only could you scuba dive at the aquarium, like we did, you can swim with sharks, have encounters with dolphins and sea lions and even swim with whale sharks without actually diving.

They offer many opportunities for veterans, active duty military, children and more. The aquarium also offers travel opportunities every year. This year they have a trip to dive throughout Raja Ampat, India.

Georgia Aquarium’s Web Resources page.

How much does it cost?

Not including general admission the experience costs: 

Non-Members: $349.99

Members: $325.99

They offer group rates for 4 or more divers.

Visit here to learn more

Who can dive?

Anyone 12+ with an open water diving certification can dive in this exhibit. The aquarium offers accommodations for those with special needs as well.

This was my sister’s 3rd dive and she did great considering it was a fairly easy dive. I will tell you more about the dive details below.

There is also an option to swim with gentle giants if you are not scuba certified.

What can I bring with me?

The only personal things you are allowed to bring into the tank with you are a mask and dive computer. You can wear your own swimsuit of course but everything else including a wetsuit, gear, and towel will be provided.

Diving in the Ocean Voyager exhibit at Ga Aquarium. Making heart hands to observers.

What to expect before diving.

We made it to the aquarium right around opening to find good parking and grab our tickets.

We had the 11am dive on a Sunday which was PERFECT! None of the crowds showed up until about 12 or 1 when all of us divers were backstage.

Visiting like a normal person…

My mom, my sister and I visited the shark exhibit first. We learned that they have the only tiger shark in an aquarium in the world. This shark is 16 and more than 1,400 pounds according to the Georgia  Aquariums website.

Tiger Shark

The shark exhibit also housed the Great Hammerhead Shark, Sand Tiger Shark, Silky Shark and Silvertip Sharks. One of the aquarium employees explained that each species has a different cue when it’s time to be fed.

We then headed over to the Truist pier exhibit to see the sea lions which led to Southern Company River scout to see some river animals.

We wandered off to see the dolphins being fed and headed off to the Tropical diver exhibit.We did in fact find Nemo and Dori!

The divers squad game plan…

We headed to the encounters desk about 30 minutes before our scheduled time. This gave our group time to get acquainted, grab a photo and get the game plan to our family and friends that weren’t diving. Our group leader layed out the game plan to the non-divers so they knew where to be when for the best photos and videos with “the cool kids.”

The family and friends then knew to head to the tunnel in the exhibit in about an hour to see us in the water for the first time. 

The divers briefing.

In this hour we headed backstage to start our adventure. We began in a classroom with a video and divemaster briefing and got out shirts to commemorate our experience.

They explained the type of cylinders we’d be using, the gear we were using, what to do with the gear we brought for ourselves, etc. and sent us off to get changed into our gear.

The locker rooms.

We walked past the massive tank area and some of the team members were hollering to hype us up and get us excited. We headed to the locker rooms and found our own locker with our names written on a small mirror on the front. Inside we found our wetsuit, boots, and a towel.  

The locker rooms had showers that provided shampoo, conditioner and bodywash. We noticed a spinner to help dry swimsuits after the dive. I pointed out hand dryers that were mounted high on the wall to be used as hair dryers.

Let’s go diving.

We suited up and headed on deck to meet our crew and grab our gear. We had a divemaster who was our head guide, a safety diver that was basically our underwater personal assistant, and a videographer who captured our whole experience. 

Once introduced and briefed one last time on all the rules we walked out onto the platform. Gear was set up and ready to roll… literally, we rolled in. Our entry was a forward roll.

Each diver got into their gear with help from the staff who were getting us hyped and ready to dive. Each pair of dive buddies were instructed to wait for the instruction of the divemaster for entry. This was to avoid running into any of the animals and ensure safety.

What to expect while diving.

Once it was our turn we rolled forward with a swift but helpful kick in the back from the staff.(Didn’t want us hitting the edge.) We surfaced, gave our okay signal and then the divemaster gave us a thumbs down to descend. 

A few moments after our descent was our first encounter with a whale shark as it swam right under us. Not the most opportune spot to be in but we managed a safe distance and were baffled by its beauty.

Once at the bottom

We kneeled waiting for the rest of the group to descend. We smiled and waved for the camera when it was our turn but in the meantime we were starstruck by life all around us. Whale sharks and manta rays swam right over our heads like they were flying.

 All of a sudden I looked and a Bowmouth Guitarfish took a little nom on my sister’s fin! We were told this only ever happens to one diver and means you’re the chosen one. So basically the coolest of cool kids.

We joined our fishy friends for a swim around the massive tank after getting the “buddy up and follow me “ signal.

Next we took a loop around the backstage portion of the exhibit where the feeding and care is done before making our way to our first viewpoint of people visiting the aquarium.

Divers seeing non-divers while diving?

Diving in the Ga aquarium and taking a picture with mom on the outside.

As we approached the glass tunnel containing a crowd of people pointing and smiling, I spotted my mom. She was so excited and camera ready.

As we swam over the tunnel to make our way into a small space between coral and the glass, I started playing rock paper scissors with a few kids. My sister and I posed with my mom standing on the other side of the glass for a picture. 

Big shout out my Mama for capturing the experience for us from outside the tank! Truly Super Mom!

Passed the tunnel.

We then headed through a split between corals to the large open portion of the tank. As we stayed close to the floor of the tank the creatures in the exhibit seemingly flew overhead. 

There were a few curious fish who would give me a bump or get a really close look. 

We knelt for a few minutes then made a single file line to pass in front of the glass.

As we passed we waved, gave hearts, goofed off and saw all of the people on the other side in awe of what we were doing. 

I played rock, paper, scissors with a kid who totally cheated. Don’t know if he could see the dissapointment in my eyes through my mask.

I got bonked in the head by a curious fish or two and had Tank the turtle swim passed me. My mom took some epic videos as a Manta passed along front of us.

This we did once more before heading back to the backstage portion of the tank before surfacing. 

Sneak peak into our circle on the Living Through Motion TikTok!

We circled up and then all made a safe ascent at the same time. Had to be sure and take a look around to avoid running into anything. 

What to expect after diving.

Once we surfaced and gave the OK we all gave our own versions of “That WAS EPIC!”

The crew were ready and waiting on deck for each of us to exit one at a time. I got out and they helped take off my gear and sent us to shower and get changed.

We cleaned up and rallied before heading back into the classroom.

We watched the video that was created of our dive. This video is available for purchase after your dive. I suggest one person in the group buying it and sending it to each other and it makes it super cost effective. The video includes all of our names and the best clips captured from our time diving.

The speed and efficiency of editing was something remarkable.

That was that. We all agreed the aquarium should create a few pins and patches geared toward the dive experience!

After the whole experience we met up with our mom and decided it was time to head out. We could’ve stayed longer but there were so many people. We don’t prefer large crowds…

Here’s a little bit of extra info for you…

My dive computer

I use the Garmin Descent G1 with no solar capabilities. So far I have not had any problems with the device and have used it for about 15 dives. It’s not the fanciest but it does the job I need it to as a recreational diver. I enjoy being able to open up the Garmen Dive app on my phone and edit the dive, add photos and even add a link to a video if I want.

My Dive Computer on Amazon! (I do earn a commision from Amazon if you purchase through the link provided within 24 hrs at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

Here is the Garmin Descent G1 on Garmins official website. I do not earn a commison from Garmin but want to provide you with as many purchasing options as possible! Always remember to do your own research before purchasing!

Computer I use while Diving. Garmin Descent G1

Dive profile 

Max depth was 30 ft but I averaged around 22ft. Our dive time was 41:50. We were diving on air.

The fit

I wore a 3mm wetsuit and was only cold wen we sat still for periods of time. We wore gloves and no hood although I believe they had some available if needed. The water temp is controlled at 76°F (24°C). For reference I sit around 135 lbs, I am 5’6″, and I am muscular with a body fat percentage of around 17%.

The vis

The visibility was 100ft/30m. We were obviously diving in salt water. We were very overweighted which we were warned of before the dive. It took a few minutes for me to adjust for the weight given. I shouldve asked what the weight was but I honestly forgot with everything going on.

Surface condition

The surface condition was flat and there was no current, as we were in a giant fish tank.

We only knelt on the bottom where we would not be disturbing the environment. This was an epic experience and the team of divers specifically, we were assigned to were amazing and incredibly kind.

Diving profile Gamin Dive

Thanks for reading! I hope this post inspires you to start diving or look into doing this dive in the future! I look foward to sharing more adventures with you in the future and if you’d like to stay up to date on the latest LTM has to offer sign up for LTM Adventure News! It’s our weekly newsletter written by me (Lauren Wood, Founder of LTM.) to share all the latest ways to train for adventure, new adventures and my latest adventures!

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