Have you ever watched the children's movies Finding Nemo or The Little Mermaid, and thought to yourself, “I wonder what it’s really like under the sea?” Well, just ask one of the divers at the Inspiring Body of Christ Church where on a weekly basis they are submerged with hundreds of tropical fish in over 80,000 gallons of water in the IBOC Aquarium.
We are blessed to serve in the largest privately-owned aquarium in the United States. The IBOC aquarium has been featured on Animal Planet’s show, Tanked, as the most challenging and largest aquarium they have built to date.
Each of IBOCs aquariums are under 24-hour monitoring by licensed marine biologists. Additionally, all volunteers, including 8 certified divers, are proud members of IBOC. Since diving in the IBOC tank was the first diving experience for the majority of the team, they were required to get their PADI Open Water Diver scuba certification prior to entering the tank.
Our aquarium volunteers love to say, “I Volunteer Because Of Christ”. They enjoy learning about each fish and their personalities, which is the clue to giving the fish cool nicknames. Just as each fish has come from the deep (the world) and now living harmoniously with one another, we hope to draw people to Christ by displaying the special care and love God has shown us, teaching us to get along in the same environment.
IBOCs awesome team of volunteers prepare food for the fish to eat such as shrimp, squid, smelt, and pollock, all sliced to a size that is easily ingested and digested by the fish. The food is then stored in a designated refrigerator/freezer until time for them to eat. Our fish have a special diet as they cannot survive on the food sprinkles you may use at home with your small goldfish.
Besides helping to prepare food, the divers are responsible for the cleanliness of the tanks. To keep the water crystal clear (due to algae constantly growing and fish constantly pooping) divers spend hours hand-scrubbing every piece of coral in the tank and brushing off the windows, which is no easy task. Additionally, divers have to squeeze into numerous cracks and crevices where algae has hidden itself, while trying not to be nibbled on by fish who think their ears and fingers look like food!
Divers enter the tank from a wide opening at the top, wearing weight belts to help their descent to the bottom of the tank, and staying down in the salt water. (Salt water automatically makes you float.) Each diver wears a wet suit to stay warm in the cool water, a face mask to protect their eyes and nose, gloves and a hood to prevent the fish from nibbling on their fingers and ears. In order to breathe while underwater, divers depend on a machine above the water that pumps air to a regulator worn in their mouths.
IBOCs Dive Shows are a hit every Sunday, from 10:00am-10:45am! Everyone’s favorite part of the show is feeding time, which happens at 10:30am. You’ll have a close-up view of hundreds of fish swarming around the divers, stingrays eating right off of the glass in front of you, and Nurse Sharks literally eating out of a diver’s hand! AMAZING!!! Did we mention swimming in IBOCs tank was the first time our divers had experienced an up-close view with stingrays and SHARKS?!?! Yes, there are REAL sharks in our tank!
You can expect to view divers turning flips under water, playing patty cake with your kids, petting the stingrays and sharks, and even writing your name on a board, which makes for a great picture!
The next time you attend an IBOC Sunday morning service, graduation, wedding, baccalaureate, or other special event, you will experience a dive show that is sure to be memorable. We look forward to seeing you there!!!