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Ursinus College Scuba dive Team Helps Environment
College Communications, 610/409-3300
8/4/2003

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College SCUBA Dive Team (UCDT) and its members are improving underwater environments.

Participating in service activities such as underwater clean-ups and artificial reef construction, this summer’s project involves the Ursinus Reef.

Chris Kriegner, a current senior at Ursinus, started the SCUBA Club in the fall of 2000 and it began activities during the spring semester.
Last year the Dive Team sponsored the sinking of 30 reef balls for the construction of an artificial reef off the coast of New Jersey. This summer, Kriegner and Ursinus senior and UCDT member Nathan Uber are working with Professor of Biology James M. Sidie on a research project involving the artificial reef, which has been named the Ursinus Reef.

Kreigner and Uber dive once a week to inspect artificial reef pieces that were cleaned and re-sunk at different times. Since each has been in the water for a different time period, the reefs are all different ages. On each dive, a different reef is inspected, water samples and geographic surveys are taken, and information is recorded regarding the aquatic life that has moved in around the reefs.

The club undertook a water clean-up program late in 2002 and was located in Reading, Pa., where the club helped clean out a water supply for the city. They worked in conjunction with a land cleaning team while they cleaned underwater in diving gear. Heather Nalesnik, an Ursinus senior, said the divers found “a microwave, street signs, street cones, cans, bottles, plastics, and even a kitchen sink.” She added that “the visibility [in the water] was less than four inches, so divers couldn’t see their gauges or the trash.” The divers linked arms with a partner and combed the bottom of the lake to find garbage.

The first underwater clean-up program was in 2001 in Belair, Md., where the club participated in International Underwater Clean-up Day, which is supported the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. This event brought together UC Blueskies, the Ursinus Environmental Club, and the Dive Team as they cleaned on both land and underwater, respectively.

Around campus, the UC SCUBA Dive Team has become well known for its classes, held so students can try scuba diving, and its involvement in environmental issues. Last semester, the group gave the Ursinus students, faculty, staff, and families the opportunity to learn how to scuba dive and use diving equipment, in the College’s swimming pool. Attendees were then invited to complete their certification at Dutch Springs in Bethlehem, Pa.

Other activities include working toward additional certifications both at Ursinus and at Dutch Springs, and taking trips to experience different water conditions and locations such as Florida, Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina, and other non-diving activities. For example, in Florida they dove in The Living Seas exhibit at Epcot Center and in North Carolina they dove in the ocean to see various shipwrecks. They also visit aquariums, attend scuba equipment trade shows, and have participated in a three day study at Duke where the effects of flying after diving were explored.

Each year the team hosts an open water certification which results in a lifetime certification. In addition, there are plans to introduce a class which will encompass the open water certification along with in-depth diving physiology, according to Kriegner.

UCDT officers are President, Chris Kriegner of Trenton, N.J.; Vice President, Heather Nalesnik of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Secretary, Erony Whyte of Brunswick, Me.; and Treasurer, Nathan Uber of Haddonfield, N.J. Faculty sponsors are Dr. Sidie and Winfield Guilmette, Vice President for Finance and Administration.

The UCDT is constructing a website which contains more information on their activities both in and out of water. Check it out at .