Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) hosted the annual AAUS symposium from September 12 to 16 at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Michigan. This event brings together AAUS organizational members from North American and abroad, comprising primarily of diving safety officers, divers, and underwater researchers. Member organizations include state and federal programs, universities, and research institutes.
The first two days of the symposium were dedicated to workshops. Activities ranged widely and included: diving at sanctuary shipwreck sites from chartered vessels, a task loading clinic in cold water hosted by TBNMS, updates for cylinder inspectors, and Divers Alert Network (DAN) training for instructors. The following day, participants held a business meeting and a workshop for Diving Safety Officer orientations. On Friday and Saturday, the final days of the symposium, members gave presentations to attendees.
Members of the NOAA Diving Program attended the symposium and addressed other attendees on various aspects of diving at NOAA. Of note, Ray Boland, the National Marine Fisheries Service Deputy Line Office Diving Officer, gave an overview of the history of Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR) diving at NOAA. TBNMS divers also gave exciting talks: NOAA Diver Phil Hartmeyer gave a presentation on virtual diving through the use of 360° panoramic imagery and TBNMS Unit Diving Supervisor John Bright presented information on research conducted by NOAA divers at the Middle Island Sinkhole within TBNMS. In addition, NOAA Divers Phil Hartmeyer and Wayne Lusardi provided the audience with an overview of Thunder Bay's shipwreck mooring buoy program.
The symposium also hosted several social events, including a 'bubble breaker' amidst the exhibits at Thunder Bay's museum in the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, and a closing banquet at the nearby Fletcher Street Depot. Attendees enjoyed the pleasant September weather in Northeast Michigan, and those who participated in diving workshops were universally impressed with the numerous shipwreck sites in the area, and the clarity of Lake Huron.