Scuba Diving with Whale Sharks

What an awesome day at the Georgia Aquarium!

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For my birthday back in April, Ryan arranged for us to scuba dive with whale sharks this weekend. We’ve talked about wanting to do this for years, so I was completely ecstatic when he booked the dive.

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Sexy, huh? Winking smile

Ryan and I adorned those wetsuits before scuba diving in a 6.3 million gallon tank with whale sharks, manta rays, sand tiger sharks, grouper and more.

Check out our new friends:

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Totally unreal.

We arrived at the aquarium a little before 11 a.m. and learned about the dive program, the animals and safety. One thing that really stuck out to me? All of the marine animals at the Georgia Aquarium are either rescued or born in captivity. They do not remove healthy animals from the wild.

Before the dive, we went behind the scenes and had the amazing opportunity to watch the group of people who booked an interactive experience with beluga whales for a couple of minutes.

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Did you know that if you press on a beluga whale’s skin, your hand will leave an imprint (like on a Tempur-Pedic matress) because their blubber is so thick? Cool, huh? Apparently their skin feels like a hard boiled egg!

The beluga whales are so adorable and look like they’re smiling all the time. I’d like to think I had a special moment with one of them through the glass.

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Once it was time for our dive, our group was provided with wet suits and scuba gear and suited up!

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I started to feel a little nervous as I squeezed myself into my suit! I get a bit anxious anytime I go scuba diving but always feel better once I’m in the water. The same proved true today… only the moment I splashed into the water, I looked down and saw a GIANT manta ray below me!

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I made sure to inflate my BC (the vest-like thing scuba divers wear) to counteract my bodyweight and the weights I was carrying to weigh me down so I floated back up. I wasn’t about to risk landing on his back!

We spent the duration of our dive swimming around the tank, following a guide and taking in the amazing sights and fish around us.

Surprisingly the two animals that made the the most nervous weren’t the rays or the ginormous whale sharks. They were the sand tiger sharks (they just stare at you) and the goliath grouper. Those fish are enormous… and they snap, too!

The entire dive was unbelievable and Ryan and I had the best time. I love scuba diving and this experience made me want to get in some more dives in Florida before the summer is over! (But no sea sick dives like last year…)

Lunch

After the dive, we watched video of our experience before heading out into the aquarium to grab lunch.

I opted for a garden burger and was actually quite impressed with the quality of my burger!

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Ryan and I also split an Oreo and vanilla pudding parfait that was delicious. We both appreciated that the aquarium had a pretty wide variety of food options including many healthy dishes. Impressive!

We spend another couple hours walking around the aquarium, falling in love with the animals (I want an otter) before walking back to our hotel.

We laughed at this penguin who we think got a little confused as to what egg he should be protecting…

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Penguins are such fun little creatures.

Centennial Park

Our walk back to our hotel took us through Centennial Park, a picturesque park that was created as a gathering spot for visitors and residents to enjoy during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and for years to come.

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Now we’re back at the hotel and hope to wander around a bit before dinner. We have a really special date night planned for this evening, and I can’t wait to enjoy a special meal, just the two of us.

I hope you guys are having a fantastic weekend!

Comments

  1. says

    How awesome!!!!! The aquarium is an amazing experience on its own but swimming in that massive tank would be unbelievable!

    That’s quite the birthday gift! Kudos Ryan!

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  2. says

    When I was little, I used to sing a song about a baby beluga in the deep blue sea, but NOWHERE in it did they mention skin like a tempur-pedic!

    That’s a great fun little fact! Looks like an amazing opportunity, to cool for words!

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  3. Lee @ In The Pink of Condition says

    It looks like that beluga whale is totally puckering up and trying to kiss you through the glass! What would Ryan think? ;-)

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  4. Niki (Life's a Payne) says

    Excellent pictures! I always wanted to go to the Georgia aquarium! Ryan is such a great guy to do this for your birthday! :) !

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  5. Emily@RunningPerspective says

    aww what an amazing day!!!your so lucky!
    and i def would NOT have the bravery to go swimming with sharks…you go girl! haha!!

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  6. says

    So glad to see that ATL is treating you well!!! You’re making me miss it even though I live there full time and am just down at my lake for the weekend haha! Hope date night is incredible and the rest of your weekend is awesome!

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  7. says

    Here in the Philippines you can do that in the WILD. How cool is that? We arrived here after the season was over (it’s from February – April), but I’m looking forward to next year! We’re definitely getting a boat to the middle of the ocean and diving with whale sharks! I can’t wait!

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  8. says

    Wow! That’s sounds like an absolutely breath taking and incredible experience! Maybe I need to hint at my bf to get me cool presents like that :)

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  9. Laura (Cookies vs. Carrots) says

    This looks amazing! Since I live in Atlanta, I am definitely going to look into taking advantage of some of the opportunities offered at the aquarium!

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  10. Yolie @ Practising Wellness says

    Dude, wetsuits are SO hard to get on, it’s such a squeeeeeeze, lol! But you two both wear them very well, which is a tough thing to do! I love my wetsuit, have had lots of adventures and fond memories in it :-) Where and when did you learn to scuba dive? So glad you had a wonderful experience together! :-) xyx

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  11. says

    Ahhhh, I have been diving all over the world in search of whale sharks–to no avail! I’ve also been to the Georgia Aquarium to see the whale sharks, but I’m still banking on diving with them out in the wild. Cool you guys got to do this, though!

    And I went back and read your other dive post—girrrrrl, I get seasick if I’m in placid water on a catamaran, and despite having logged over 100 dives in the past few years, I’d say I still get nauseous (and often vomit) 50% of the time I’m diving (even when taking Bonine, ginger, etc.)–it’s brutal!

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  12. Bethany @ Accidental Intentions says

    Ohhh my word that beluga whale is BEYOND precious. Ditto that for the penguin. And A+ to you for swimming with sharks…I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do something like that.

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  13. says

    What an amazing day – I don’t know anyone whose done that there – so cool that you did! I love the aquarium and could watch those penguins all day long! We’ve had a few events at the oceans ballroom – so nice to be eating/visiting/working while watching whale sharks float by – not distracting at all. hehe

    Such an awesome experience girl and please – you two rock wetsuits – it’s almost sickening! hahaha

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