Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/16/2012 7:51 PM

Navy divers plunge into Shedd Aquarium

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • A member of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit swims in the Shedd Aquarium's Caribbean Reef exhibit on Thursday in Chicago.

      A member of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit swims in the Shedd Aquarium's Caribbean Reef exhibit on Thursday in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • A member of the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two helps boys try on protective equipment during Navy Week on Thursday at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

      A member of the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two helps boys try on protective equipment during Navy Week on Thursday at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Parrotfish, bonnethead sharks, and cownose rays were some of the Shedd Aquarium's underwater inhabitants surprised Thursday when members of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit plunged into the Caribbean Reef exhibit they call home.

Dozens of visitors to the aquarium surrounded the exhibit, chatting excitedly as they watched divers Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Ernst and Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Panek move effortlessly among the sea life as part of Navy Week in Chicago, which goes until Monday.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

At times followed by an inquisitive green turtle named Nickel, Ernst used a mask fitted with a microphone to talk to the crowd about the highlights of his Navy diver career.

"I was a marine mammal handler for Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three, and I got to handle dolphins on a daily basis. That was by far the coolest job I've had," Ernst said.

A veteran of more than 1,000 dives, Senior Chief Kerry Bridges said the Experimental Diving Unit was responsible for testing equipment and protocols before they were implemented by the Navy. He said all Navy divers had to undergo extensive training for the job, but that it wasn't easy.

"There's a lot of glamorous parts of the job, but there's a lot of days where we're out there doing 16-hour days in the rain, in the cold -- hungry, wet, tired."

Many of the crowd's younger members had their imaginations stirred by the presentation. Eight-year-old Finn McDonald, visiting from New Jersey, said his family had a special love for the Navy because of his uncle Adm. Robert Shumaker.

"He was the longest held POW in (the) Vietnam (War). He got captured for eight years", McDonald said proudly.

His cousin, 10-year-old Keyler White from Chicago, said he had never seen anyone dive before the presentation. White said he would love to swim with the underwater creatures.

"These sharks aren't dangerous," he said confidently.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here