Scuba club takes a plunge in Florida’s open water

Courtesy Marina Knize

Miami, a city known for its golden coasts, is the perfect place for scuba diving. The University of Miami Scuba Club ensures that students have the opportunity to experience some of the deep-sea wonders that the waters have to offer.
“The club really gives you an opportunity to go out and see the underwater treasures of the ocean,” said Rhonda DuBord, associate director and club sports advisor at the Wellness Center.
One of the many appeals of joining is that, weather permitting, there is a dive every weekend during the semester. Beyond that, it is also a great way for students to experience diving and meet new people.

Senior Emily Harkness, one of the club’s co-presidents, met her good friend and fellow co-president Marina Knize on a dive during her freshman year.

“People really get to know each other. It’s really a big part of the club,” Harkness said.

Dive locations span the state from Jupiter to Key Largo. The club travels to both coral reefs and shipwrecks.

Once underwater, it’s anyone’s guess what will be seen. As most of the members would testify, not knowing what they can encounter is part of the appeal.

“In one dive, we saw a nurse shark, barracuda and a moray eel,” said Lindsay Pilong, a freshman member.

The club also provides the opportunity to become scuba certified.  A certification is valid for life. The club has a deal with Underwater Unlimited, a local scuba instruction service. By joining the group, students can become certified quicker and cheaper than if they were to go through the process on their own.

Pilong was certified through the program.

“It was a two-week class, and the final weekend you go on four dives. It was a lot of fun,” she said.

Currently, there are not any certification sessions scheduled, but there will be more sessions offerred during the spring semester.

At the end of each semester, the club goes on a camping trip during reading days before finals. This semester, the trip will be to Key West. The location varies each time and has been as far as Gainesville. The trip is a chance for students to get away from campus and enjoy time with friends and nature, members say.

The scuba club is a unique way for students to gain experience in the marine science field. They provide students with a firsthand experience that other students must wait until graduate school to receive. However, this does not restrict the club’s membership.

There are currently about 200 members in the scuba club. Membership dues are $40 per semester or $60 for the year. Free rentals are included in the membership, which can be used on the club dives and when a student chooses to go diving on his or her own time.

Students must pay for the price of each dive, which average $35. The club also offers a four-dive card for $100.