In early March, an exceptional group of divers from northern Virginia took part in the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island’s popular Shark Dive program. Wounded Warriors David Weiner, Jade Sharrocks, Ron Kellogg and Ernest Spycher, representing the U.S. Army, Marines and Navy, took the plunge into the Aquarium’s 285,000-gallon Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit to the delight of spectators. Accompanying the group was their dive instructor and active duty Marine Eliseo Rodriguez and several close friends from Patriot Scuba.
The group completed multiple dives during their two-day visit, assisted by Aquarium Dive Safety Officer Pat Murphy and Assistant Dive Safety Officer/Guest Dive Coordinator Jason Sheremeta. The Wounded Warriors and guests were able to experience firsthand the awe-inspiring challenge of diving with 12 apex predators in the Aquarium’s centerpiece exhibit, including four sand tiger sharks, seven sandbar sharks and a nurse shark.
The dive was the first of what is hoped to be many visits by Wounded Warriors to the Aquarium. The exciting event could not have taken place without the generous contributions of food and housing by Outer Banks Blue Realty, First Colony Inn, Pirates Cove Realty, Slice Pizzeria and Dare County Shrine Home Club.
As one of only three Aquariums recognized nationally by the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) for having facilities and trained dive staff to accommodate divers with disabilities, it is the Aquarium’s intent to make Wounded Warriors a permanent part of its popular Shark Dive program.
Certified divers interested in taking part in the program should contact Assistant Dive Safety Officer/Guest Dive Coordinator Jason Sheremeta at 252-473-3494, ext. 239. Certified divers interested in the Aquarium’s Volunteer Dive Program should contact Volunteer Coordinator Shannon Brooks at 252-473-3494, ext. 254.