TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Meet Shaun
1. Where are you from?
I’m from Tennessee.
2. How, when, and why did you first start diving?
I started scuba diving because of the military. I started diving in the army as a combat diver, and then I got my Divemaster certification when I realized that I really enjoyed it- that was in 1997. I stuck with diving because it is extremely therapeutic, and after I finished my time with the military, I found out that I liked teaching scuba as well.
3. What do you do at Diver’s Paradise? How did you end up here?
I am a dive instructor, boat crew, and diesel mechanic at Diver’s Paradise. I’ve worked at multiple dive shops as a dive instructor, all the way from West Palm to the Keys. Diver’s Paradise just felt like the perfect fit- I just absolutely fell in love with the place.
4. What is your favorite dive site in Miami?
I don’t really have one favorite spot- I like the fact that we have access to TONS of wrecks from Key Biscayne, and wreck diving is definitely my favorite type of diving to do. You could dive every day and still not hit every one of the wrecks that we have here.
5. What is your favorite dive story?
Probably diving the Doc De Mille! That dive site is known for having stupid crazy current because it is really close to the Gulf Stream. So, when we got to the dive site, our divemaster tried to descend to tie onto the wreck and was able to reach the wreck, but was having trouble tying on because of the current. We had driven for an hour and a half to get to this site, so I was really determined to get on it. I decided to dive down and try tying on myself, and as soon as I started descending, I saw eight, or maybe twelve, MASSIVE spotted eagle rays- they were about six feet wide, and looked like dinosaurs. They were just sitting in the current, chilling like it was nothing. When I finally got down to the wreck and tied off at around 117 ft, the water was crystal clear. After I surfaced, I made sure to brief the boat so that they were aware of the current conditions and recommended that divers hang onto the line for the dive until they got to the North side of the wreck, where the shipwreck would protect a diver from the current. Everybody hopped in the water and descended down the line, and the site looked like a scene out of National Geographic! The eagle rays just hung out with us for the entire dive, and when we looked out over the side of the wreck there were about 200 great barracuda, as well as a couple of massive goliath groupers sitting in the current. Everybody on the dive surfaced and agreed that it was one of the best dives that they had ever been on. I have over 10,000 logged dives, and it is definitely in my top three favorite dives!
6. What scuba diving tip or piece of advice has helped you the most?
The best tip that I can give is to stay calm. Relax! The key to diving is to remember that no matter what situation you encounter, if you stop and think before reacting, everything is going to be fine. If you stay calm, you can work through anything, and I think that that applies to all aspects of life, not just diving.
7. What is your favorite post dive snack?
Peanut M&M’s! It’s like an addiction.
8. What are you passionate about, outside of scuba diving?
I do what I do because I am passionate about it. Specifically, I love teaching. Whether I’m teaching scuba, or I’m teaching First Aid, or CPR, it’s the instructing that I love.
9. What is a fun fact about yourself?
I am a retired combat veteran.