Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Teenage SCUBAnauts Dive Deep into Marine Science

Here's a cool article about a terrific organization.

Growing up near the beach sparked an interest in the underwater world for teenager Morgan Liston.

"I'd look at the little fish. I'd dig in the sand and look at the shells and all the little clams and stuff like that," said Liston, who recently graduated from Palm Harbor University High School.

Her childhood fascination led to her becoming certified in scuba diving, and now she's among the many teens in Scubanauts International, a volunteer youth organization that works with marine scientists.

Members scuba dive and use specialized equipment to perform underwater surveys, fish counts, coral observations and marine archeology.


Scubanauts International was founded in 2001 by U.S. Navy Capt. David Olsen, of Palm Harbor, with Walter Jaap, a marine scientist with Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Jaap has worked for in coral reef research more than 30 years.

Olsen, who is assigned to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, "wanted to be able to provide kids 12 to 18 an experience using scuba diving doing underwater sciences," Hayes said.

There are chapters St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Key West and Lake Hitchcock, Mass. Parents volunteer and run each chapter, and all of the scientists who assist are volunteers.

Mary Silk, a member of Scubanauts for five years and a junior at Northeast High School, said meeting and working with the leaders in the marine science field is one of her favorite parts of the program.

"I actually do think I would be interested in pursuing a career in marine science, mostly because of this program," she said. "It's definitely opened my eyes to this wonderful career."

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You can learn more about SCUBAnauts International online at:

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