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Volunteer Spotlight: Aquarium’s Volunteer Dive Team

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s volunteer dive team won a significant achievement award in volunteer engagement from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) in September. The national award recognizes Point Defiance Zoo for effectively engaging volunteers in the overall mission and operation of the organization.

“Our exceptional team of volunteer divers plays a vital role in helping us to provide the highest quality of care to our animals, connect our community to nature, and protect critical species and habitats in Puget Sound,” said Zoo Director Alan Varsik. “I am continually inspired by their dedication and passion for our mission.”

Currently, 16 volunteer divers have undergone extensive dive orientation and training. Each of them is invaluable to the aquarium’s success and field research underway in Puget Sound.

In the Pacific Seas Aquarium, volunteers feed and provide enrichment to marine animals and help maintain healthy habitats by wiping algae from the windows, scrubbing rocks, and vacuuming gravel. During scheduled dive talks, volunteers feed anemones, flounder, and rockfish and talk with guests about how they can be part of the solution to climate change in Puget Sound.

Other volunteers are trained as field scientific divers, collecting data in Puget Sound on fish, invertebrates, algae, and kelp to help monitor the overall health of the water and the species living in it.

Since the zoo’s volunteer dive program began in 2006, volunteers have participated in over 2,000 dives and completed more than 6,880 hours of diving.

“Our volunteers have increased our ability to partner on critical conservation recovery projects focused on rockfish and kelp in the Puget Sound,” said Zoo Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Stacey Luhring. “We take great pride as an organization in celebrating our volunteer divers and their major accomplishments.”

VOTE NOW: Help us win $25,000 to expand our volunteer dive program

Point Defiance Zoo is honored to be OL Reign’s community partner in the 2023 Nationwide Community Impact Program, a season-long initiative promoting local service projects and led by each National Women’s Soccer League team. Former OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce has served as a volunteer diver at the zoo.

Former OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce conducting an underwater survey in Puget Sound

The winning community partner will receive a $25,000 donation to advance their organization’s efforts. If Point Defiance Zoo wins, we’ll use this generous donation to buy SCUBA gear to expand our volunteer dive team and enhance our impact on ocean conservation by connecting with guests in the aquarium and with critical field research in Puget Sound.

VOTE HERE! You are allowed one vote per person per day.