University of Southern California

Always a Diver, Never a Tender


A couple of days ago, I helped my friend Judith Connor, one of the NSF Antarctic Marine Biology program instructors, on her first scuba dive in Antarctica. That’s a bit of change for me, since I’m usually the person who gets to go underwater. This season, diving under the ice has taken somewhat of a backseat, as I’ve been busy in the laboratory working with the course participants on their research projects.

Tenders are an important part of the diving operations here at McMurdo Station. The tenders not only help the divers put on their heavy, cumbersome gear (e.g., weight belt, tank, mask, gloves) — but also help take it all off when they emerge back through the dive hole. This is no small task, as the typical diver going under the ice is wearing approximately 100 pounds of gear!

davehelpingdivers.JPGBeing that this was Connor’s first Antarctic dive, she was excited. If she was at all nervous, I couldn’t tell. Thinking back to my first ice dive, I was a mess — what was I thinking, a guy born and raised in Los Angeles, jumping into below-freezing water through a shoulder-width hole in the ice? Despite my angst (and every dive thereafter), I remember having a great time, and was glad to see a smiling dive tender when I bobbed to the surface.

Needless to say, Connor’s first dive was flawless. She is now an official member of the “extreme environmental divers” club. In case you were wondering, I proudly schlepped her gear on and off, and had a great big smile on my face as she climbed out of the dive hole.

David Ginsburg is a lecturer in the Environmental Studies Program of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

1 Comment

Dive Tenders Rule! Great photo, Dave.