Midwest SCUBA Dive Team Assembles for Safety
BY ANDREW BRIGGS, ALPENA FWCO-WATERFORD MI SUBSTATION
Fish biologists Andrew Briggs and James Boase of the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) – Waterford substation traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin for a SCUBA meeting and training session with other members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Region 3 SCUBA dive team. The meeting and training session took place March 4th – 5th at the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and Logan High School pool. The training is one of the requirements to become an authorized diver for the Region 3 SCUBA dive team and must be completed annually. James was attending to become reauthorized and Andrew to become authorized for the first time.
During the meeting, dive team members were able to introduce themselves and discuss their SCUBA plans for the upcoming field season. The Alpena FWCO dive team plans to utilize SCUBA to evaluate habitat enhancement projects throughout the St. Clair-Detroit River System. Dive team members were also able to convey their plans and any safety concerns that they had to Service safety specialist Janet Dalton. All members agreed that safety was the top priority while SCUBA diving in the field.
In the pool, each dive team member had to demonstrate a number of swimming and SCUBA skills. The swimming skills included being able to free swim (no gear) 400 yards continuously, swim 800 yards continuously with snorkel and fins, and tread water for 15 minutes (hands out of the water for the last two minutes). SCUBA skills included a 100 yard disabled diver tow, clearing a mask underwater, removing and replacing gear underwater, breathing from a free flowing regulator, buddy breathing, and buoyancy control.
The SCUBA meeting and training session offered a great opportunity for dive members to share stories and advice on SCUBA diving along with work on skills. One of the priorities of the Service is to maintain a well trained staff so that they can perform their required duties efficiently in a safe manner. This meeting and training session definitely aided in that goal.