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Ocean Park Launches Grand Aquarium Scuba Diving “Immersive” Encounter with 450 Marine Species Deepens Marine Conservation Awareness

2013-04-11

(Hong Kong, 11 April 2013) Ocean Park is set to take its advocacy of marine conservation and education to new depths with a brand new underwater Grand Aquarium Scuba Diving programme, which will start on 20 April 2013. Following the innovative snorkelling programme introduced during Summer Splash 2012, Grand Aquarium Scuba Diving invites guests on a dive into its world-class 5.2-million-litre aquarium for a truly “immersive” experience with close to 5,000 fish of over 450 species. Participating guests will meet their favourite animal ambassadors, such as the manta ray, hammerhead sharks, and Napoleon Wrasse, and visit the “in” side of the Grand Aquarium’s world-class features, such as the world’s largest 5.5-metre aquarium viewing dome and the 13-metre wide panoramic viewing panel. Guests will also experience the thrill of swimming with schools of darting fish. To support animal conservation efforts, 5% of programme fees received will be donated to Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.

Grand Aquarium Scuba Diving is a unique experience in that it offers divers an extraordinarily close underwater encounter in crystal clear water with fishes and sharks of all shapes, sizes and colors. Here, one can gain a deeper appreciation of the need for humans and marine life to co-exist in harmony. Mr. David Lai, Senior Curator of Aquariums, Ocean Park, says “This is the perfect time to launch the scuba diving programme as public awareness of marine conservation has risen significantly since the opening of the Grand Aquarium. And the sharks, rays and fishes are ready! Ocean Park has taken over two years getting the fishes and sharks accustomed to divers.”

The new diving programme is the latest demonstration of the unique value of Ocean Park’s signature combination of conservation, education and entertainment. This three-hour journey consists of two parts. The first part is Grand Aquarium Ed-venture, a behind-the-scene tour that offers a glimpse of Ocean Park’s work in breeding and animal care, environmental control, the life support system, and passion for conservation of the veteran diving coaches. The second part is a 30-minute diving session, which features a maximum diving depth of 11 metres. Each tour consists of six guests, divided into two groups. Prior to taking to the water, participants are required to undergo a briefing on safety measures, including details of the diving route and the proper response when encountering a giant fish. Mr. Alex Wong, Education Manager at Ocean Park, says “Through our programme, the public can better understand the interdependent relationship between humans and marine life, and learn ways they can help protect the ocean. As diving has been very popular in Hong Kong, we welcome this opportunity to reinforce responsible diving practices that help divers respect the reef and minimize any disturbances to reefs.”

Given the programme is the first of its kind in Hong Kong, Ocean Park places a high priority on the safety of every guest diver and the animal ambassadors, having instituted a comprehensive set of safety measures and requirements. For example, all participants must be aged 15 or above and possess a minimum of Open Water certification from a recognized scuba diving course. Before taking to the water, divers will receive a safety briefing and must demonstrate their competency with scuba equipment as well as declare their health conditions. While in the water, divers are required to follow the coaches' guidance at all times to avoid disturbing the marine life. All the aquarists serving as coaches are qualified Rescue Divers with life-saving qualifications. During the diving sessions, each three-person group will be accompanied by two coaches, with one overseeing the surrounding environment and the other taking care of the guest participants.

Mr. Eric Mak, Safety and Diving Manager of Ocean Park, a qualified diver with more than 38 years of diving experience, has been with the Park for 22 years, during which he has managed a wide variety of challenging underwater projects. He believes that scuba diving is one of the best ways for people to connect with the oceans and appreciate the beauty of the reefs. With this emotional connection, divers are more likely to not only learn more about the importance of marine conservation, but to also participate in underwater programmes such as Grand Aquarium Scuba Diving and various reef clean ups during the summer.

Ms. Jobi Chan joined the Grand Aquarium dive programme and commented that, “I am delighted to hear about this scuba diving programme by the Ocean Park. Hong Kong people can now dive into a dazzling underwater world of life that is safe and conveniently located. It is a truly inspiring opportunity for divers. I left the water even more determined to dive responsibly so as to not destroy the beauty of our reefs and to help conserve them by only eating sustainably caught fish.”

Grand Aquarium Scuba Diving will be offered between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. every Saturday, starting from 20 April 2013. The Park will provide all the equipment, though qualified participants are welcome to bring their own. The cost of the programme together with park admission, is HK$2,180 per person; while the cost of the programme alone is HK$1,900. Qualified participants with a valid SmartFun Annual Pass can enjoy a 25% discount and pay a fee of only HK$1,425. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis. To support animal conservation efforts, 5% of programme fees received will be donated to Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong. For more information, please call 3923 2328.

For application information, please visit: 
http://www.oceanpark.com.hk/html/en/park-experience/unique/scuba.html  

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