Swimming with Whale Sharks at the Georgia Aquarium

Aired on April 30, 2013

Join Tonya Fitzpatrick of World Footprints for an enchanting afternoon dive at the Georgia Aquarium. This unique underwater adventure features Tonya swimming gracefully with Nandi the Manta Ray from South Africa, along with several majestic whale sharks and a variety of other marine species.

Georgia Aquarium’s Majestic Ocean Voyager Exhibit

The Ocean Voyager exhibit, one of the largest single aquatic habitats in the world, is home to thousands of marine animals. Among its residents are the gentle giants of the sea—whale sharks. Swimming alongside these incredible creatures, I had a rare opportunity to experience their peaceful presence up close.

Hang Loose!

Spot Tonya  in the video by her long brown ponytail and signature “hang loose” hand signs. Scuba diving in the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager exhibit is akin to a water ballet, where every movement is fluid and harmonious, showcasing the beauty and grace of the underwater world.

Diving with Nandi the Manta Ray

There is a clip in the video that shows Nandi, the Manta Ray, swimming towards the camera with her mouth wide open.  She was actually coming straight to Tonya who lay in front of the camera. I remember thinking, “oh…this is interesting” as she opened her mouth and swam directly over my head.  While a bit nerve-wrecking, that interaction with Nandi was the highlight of my dive.

An Underwater Symphony

Scuba diving at the Georgia Aquarium is not just a dive; it’s an underwater symphony. The interplay between divers and marine animals creates a harmonious dance that is both calming and exhilarating. This experience highlights the importance of marine conservation and the beauty of the underwater world.

In my own words

It had been a few years since I had put on a wet-suit and strapped a tank on my back so I considered the opportunity to dive in the Georgia Aquarium as a refresher for the diving trips that were to come.

It took some time for me to adjust to belt weights and even descend and clear my ears but once I landed on the bottom of the tank, I felt that I had returned home. I LOVE the water and I could spend hours underwater if given the chance.

My experience with Nandi was amazing and very memorable but I also had a few other mishaps like when I nearly collided with a whale shark as I tried to adjust my weights and when I accidentally kicked a hammerhead shark with my fin. I was very grateful to the aquarium dive team that was always nearby the group of divers who took part in this adventure.

This mesmerizing experience was captured by the talented Georgia Aquarium dive team, bringing you an up-close look at the wonders of the ocean and the serene dance of aquatic life.

For more inspiring travel stories and underwater adventures, visit World Footprints.

Hashtags: #GeorgiaAquarium #WaterBallet #WorldFootprints #ScubaDiving #OceanVoyager #MarineLife #NandiTheMantaRay #WhaleSharks #UnderwaterAdventure #AquariumDive

Dive into the magical world of the Georgia Aquarium with Tonya from World Footprints and experience the graceful water ballet of marine life.

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Video Author

  • Tonya Fitzpatrick, Esq., is a co-founder of World Footprints, a social impact travel media company that she runs with her husband, Ian. She is an award-winning journalist, global public speaker, and three-time TEDx presenter who has written for several prominent publications including the Miami Herald, AAA World, The Lens and Island Soul. Recognized as Black Travel Journalists of the Year alongside Ian, Tonya serves on several travel industry boards, including SATW, The Explorers Club (DC chapter), NATJA, and JourneyWoman. She has also been appointed to the Maryland Tourism Development Board by Governor Wes Moore.