Written by C. Parker Van Hecke, MDA Scuba Instructor
Diving at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory is a coveted entry on a divers’ log. Great care must be taken when diving on the Pacific Ocean side of Guam, as the currents and surf are problematic most of the year.
When the ocean is calm, diving the Marine Lab is doable, regardless of the tides. The entrance and exit can be quite easy. But if the surf picks up, using some simple exit techniques can make a huge difference in having a quick and simple exit or getting knocked down by waves and getting scraped and torn up on the rocks.
If you cannot get your fins on or off in 10 to 15 seconds, you may have trouble with this dive. Practice putting on your fins quickly, and practice fin removal.
Divers enter the water at the end of the rock wall by the seawater intake pipe. The pipe takes seawater up to the lab for use in experiments. The entrance is right in the surf zone, so put your fins on and get passed the surf zone as quickly as possible. When you return, ride the surge until you can stand up. Remove your fins quickly, stand up, and walk out of the surf zone.
There are numerous sand channels with lush reefs along the dive, which drops to 130 plus feet at the outermost point.
Sharks, turtles, sting rays, eels and octopus are regulars on this dive. There are also some of Guam’s most beautiful coral stands in the shallows. The coral on the Pacific side of Guam is quite different from the other side or in the harbor. The coral is very hardy and thrives on big surges. Plus, I think some coral experiments at the Marine Lab have taken root out there.