On Board with Shaun Dean, Lead Diver at Sea Life Aquarium!

With over 10,000 of the world’s most incredible marine animals, SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is one of Melbourne’s most popular attractions.Take yourself on an interactive ocean adventure, where you’ll get the opportunity to get up close to playful penguins, huge sharks, majestic stingrays, beautiful seahorses, thousands of tropical fish and much, much more!

Today we catch up with Shaun Dean, Lead Diver at Sea Life Aquarium to have a chat about his awesome role as well as some of the problems our ocean is currently facing.

Tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve been diving for 13 years and I’ve always loved being in the water. Being Perth born and raised, I grew up around the ocean and spent many hours snorkelling, boating and attempting to surf. When I was 14, I decided to complete a dive course with my dad and I’ve been diving ever since.

What inspired you to become a Diving Instructor?
I had every intention of becoming a marine biologist until I epically failed Year 11 Chemistry, so that put a dent in that plan. Later that same year on a family holiday in Exmouth, I met some dive instructors who told me all about their job and I was instantly sold. I immediately set my sights on working in marine tourism as a Divemaster and Instructor – and the rest is history!

Where is the most amazing place you have dived?
That’s a hard question – I have a few places on my list! Diving in the Seychelles was amazing and Thailand is near the top of the list too. However one of my all-time favourite dives was the HMAS Swan wreck near Western Australia which I did in the middle of whale migration season and throughout the entire dive we could hear the whales singing.

What does your typical day look like?
Typically, my day revolves around my diving schedule. I’ll usually spend the first few hours of the morning doing admin jobs or helping the curatorial team before I start diving. Depending on the day, I can spend up to 3-4 hours in the water either teaching our guests how to dive in our 2.2million litre Oceanarium tank, or diving inside our other exhibits to help clean or feed the animals.

What is your favourite part of the job?
I love it when I’m set a challenging task that is out-of-the-ordinary, testing what we can accomplish underwater. One of my colleagues once ran an underwater wedding inside our Oceanarium tank which was pretty unforgettable so my goal is to top that experience!

What is the most challenging aspects of your role?
I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to call diving my job! The most challenging aspects are probably just the admin tasks – I’d much rather spend time underwater than buried in paperwork.

Do you have any advice for first time divers?
Breathe. It sounds simple but breathing is one of the most difficult things to master when diving. A lot of our guests do our ‘Shark Dive Xtreme’ experience and come up saying that the thing that scared them most wasn’t the sharks but breathing underwater. The best thing you can do is take slow, deep breaths when you’re diving.

What is the most underappreciated or least known feature of the Aquarium?
Probably the unique personalities of each of our animals. I have the privilege of working so closely with the aquatic animals at Sea Life Melbourne and I have learnt that each animal has an individual personality. Some animals are boisterous and dominant, while others are quite submissive and even cuddly! A lot of guests aren’t aware of these distinct personalities and they look at you in disbelief when you describe their unique traits.

What are some of the problems our oceans currently face?
Pollution is one of the biggest problems facing our oceans. When there are patches of floating garbage large enough to rival the size of a country (and you certainly see a lot of this when you’re diving in the ocean), you know there’s a huge issue. Thankfully, awareness of the issues that our oceans face is increasing each day so hopefully we can turn the tide and start rectifying these problems.

Thanks Dean! Be sure to check out SEA LIFE aquarium whilst your in Melbourne. For more info about the Aquarium and tickets prices head to their website.

Video: Sea Life Aquarium