Scuba cats make a large splash in the Florida waters

Rebecca Charur/Contributing Writer

 

To most people who live in Miami, the ocean is their backyard. So it is no surprise that a variety of underwater activities have become local pastimes. One in particular that has gained popularity among the public and FIU students alike is scuba diving. As the only cats not afraid of water, the Scuba Cats of FIU dedicate their time to executing dives and becoming better acquainted with the underwater world.

The club was founded in 2010 by Denny Carvajal and continues to be run today by president Sebastian Usquiamo. The club has expanded and now hosts about five-hundred individual members with an active roster of 10 people per semester.

“We mainly do dives from Key West up to Pompano beach,” Usquiamo said.

Some of the other diving locations in between are Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, and Key Largo. The Scuba Cats try to go out to one of these locations and dive at least once a month.

These dives may include morning, afternoon, or night dives that usually last between an hour to four hours. At this time, there are also several diving sites that some of the Scuba Cats prefer to explore such as reefs, beach, and wreck diving. The preference depends on the person and, sometimes, it depends on their experience.

“When we have a new diver or someone starting off with limited experience, they tend to enjoy the reef or the beach dives because they are very comfortable for them and they feel at home. When they start getting more advanced they like the challenge of going to the wrecks,” Christian Lopes said.

Members belonging to special groups may also organize other activities such as, spearfishing, catching lobster, night dives, and underwater photography. Some of this underwater photography, in particular, is displayed on the FIU Scuba Cats Club Facebook page. This page is just one of the ways one could find information about the sports club and its activities.

To participate in club activities you must be a licensed scuba diver with a minimum of an open water certification. Fortunately, the club brings unlicensed people one step closer to the underwater experience by leading them to a better education and training.

“A big part of our club is that we are affiliated with a lot of local businesses and we sponsor their efforts to educate people about the ocean and get their certification,” Lopes said.

This affiliation makes the transition that much simpler for those who are interested in the sport and wish to become certified.

“We have a complimentary of four divers that can come in and we can give them gear but anything above that we would have to help you out getting your own gear,” Lopes said.

Some of the basic equipment that a member should own include a mask, fins, and a snorkel. As for the other diving basics, such equipment are available to rent in local diving stores and other locations. Because members may have to rent their own equipment, the club provides special rates to their divers on  charter and equipment rentals.

Yes, a license and proper scuba diving gear are important in order to participate, but aside from that, the Scuba Cats maintain an open water policy. Anyone can participate in the club including Alumni and even those who do not attend FIU.

“We have technical divers, we have people who just learned how to snorkel and started diving,” Lopes said.

There are a variety of members that are at different levels. However, there is also an equal variety of dives, such as the recreational reef and wreck dives, to accommodate these members. Fortunately, Florida is host to several types of reefs so the diving possibilities are numerous.

 

-sports@fiusm.com

 

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