Thanks to a scuba diving course offered by the University's Athletic Department, 23 NYUAD students are now PADI-certified open-water scuba divers. The class, which was taught by Abu Dhabi's Al Mahara Diving Center, required the students to complete six classroom sessions, three confined pool dives, and four open-water dives before being awarded certification.
After learning the basic skills of breathing underwater in the pool, the group headed out toward Al Bateen Breakwater, a diving location 15 minutes off the coast of Abu Dhabi, to see the underwater sights. In spite of choppy water and limited visibility during the first day of diving, the group was able to hone their skills. The students were required to perform such underwater tasks as taking off and replacing their masks and clearing them, sustaining neutral buoyancy — neither sinking to the bottom nor floating to the top, but rather hovering in the water — and completing an emergency swimming ascent to the surface.
Despite a few bouts of seasickness the first day, Nicole Lopez Del Carril, NYUAD Class of 2014, was eager to explore the ocean on the second day of open-water dives, when the conditions were much better and the water was clear enough to see the ocean floor from the boat (7 meters down). "I really enjoyed the free dive, when we were able to do more exploring with our diving buddy and guide. We saw angel fish, a giant goby, and a sea snake followed us for fifteen minutes."
NYUAD has given me the opportunity to travel globally, and now I have the ability to explore 70 percent more of the world!
Fellow freshman Joshua Shirley said the fish he saw on his dive were friendly to outsiders…and hungry. "We saw a parrot fish eating coral, and the bat fish got really close to us. At one point, there was a whole school swimming around us, and one of the fish started nipping on the fin of a fellow diver!" The divers also saw stingrays, clown fish, giant puffer fish, colorful coral, and a variety of other crustaceans and sea life.
The newly certified students talked of creating a "scuba club" next year, and hope to visit nearby diving sites in Dubai and Mussandam, Oman. Lopez Del Carril is eager to begin exploring more of the oceans right away. "NYUAD has given me the opportunity to travel globally, and now I have the ability to explore 70 percent more of the world!"