Thursday, September 11, 2003

Chip Wehmer, Newport Aquarium


Dad impresses by going fishing

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Chip Wehmer's three kids think he's the coolest. After all, his volunteer work involves scuba gear, a really big fish tank - and sharks.

[photo]
While in the shark tank, volunteer Chip Wehmer interacts with Newport Aquarium patron Alyssa Stahlgren of Springdale.
(Mike Simons photo)

The 40-year-old Deerfield Township engineer has been a volunteer diver with the Newport Aquarium since May 2000.

The three major tasks of the volunteers are:

• Maintenance - like scrubbing the algae out of the tank or helping install a display.

• Feedings - some are underwater, while some are at the surface.

• Observations - looking for abnormal behavior, such as a fish that is swimming awkwardly.

Diving at the aquarium is one of the toughest volunteer jobs Warmer has ever had. Volunteers must have an advanced open-water scuba certification, pass a written test on diving fundamentals and an interview that includes an oral exam, and pass a buoyancy control test.

Finally, volunteers must swim through an obstacle course to see if they can pass through something without disturbing the area.

At that point, they advance to volunteer training.

"From a volunteering standpoint, I've been with many organizations. But I have yet to find one that appreciates your help as much as the aquarium," Wehmer said.

E-mail mdowns@enquirer.com




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