#scuba Fraser Library to host VR diving program – C&G Newspapers

August 10, 2022 - Comment

VR headsets, like the one used by Fraser Public Library’s Head of Circulation Alex Williams, pictured, will allow Fraser Public Library patrons to see what it’s like to dive to the bottom of the ocean, explore lost shipwrecks and traverse enormous reefs. Photo provided by Kristen Getzin FRASER — The Fraser Public Library is taking


VR headsets, like the one used by Fraser Public Library’s Head of Circulation Alex Williams, pictured, will allow Fraser Public Library patrons to see what it’s like to dive to the bottom of the ocean, explore lost shipwrecks and traverse enormous reefs.

Photo provided by Kristen Getzin

FRASER — The Fraser Public Library is taking patrons on a trip under the sea — without having to leave the library.

The library is presenting a virtual reality program on scuba diving and Michigan shipwrecks. Patrons can throw on a VR headset and explore reefs from around the world and shipwrecks sitting at the bottom of the Great Lakes.

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (does) virtual dives of marine sanctuaries from across the world,” explained Kristen Getzin, the programming and youth services librarian at the Fraser Public Library. “There are virtual dives from Michigan’s Thunder Bay, which has tons of shipwrecks, and others from all over the world in places like Samoa. It lets you try out scuba diving without actually going in water.”

The program also will feature information on how to get into real world scuba diving. Diving expert Keith Conway will be on hand to educate those interested in how diving works, what equipment is used, and what kind of training and certification is required. He also will be bringing some of his diving equipment along so people can see it in person.

“I’ve been diving probably for about 39 years,” said Conway. “I was a sheriff’s office rescue diver for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department for 15 years. I was one of the last civilians to jump out of a Coast Guard helicopter. I have about 1,500 dives that I’ve done between dives and rescues. I have my sport, advanced, rescue, river and nighttime certifications.”

The program will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Fraser Public Library, located at 16330 14 Mile Road.

“Registration is preferred. They just go to the events calendar on the website. There is no cost,” said Getzin. “I’ve tried out all of the stuff people can try out at the presentation. My favorite part was in the American Samoa Marine Sanctuary where the barracuda there are coming out of the reef and it is such a cool image.”

Getzin said the program was a perfect fit for the library’s oceanic theme they are running this summer.

“I was exploring the NOAA website and seeing what we wanted to do this summer with our Oceans of Possibilities theme,” Getzin said. “I bought a cheap VR headset to try out the VR program they had and it was so awesome. I knew I had to try and offer this to people. We will have several headsets and we found our diver, Keith Conway, because he’s the husband of one of our staff members.”

Conway will be sharing stories of some of his favorite ventures into the water — those done for fun, and those done as part of rescue and recovery operations.

“I will share some of my stories, like jumping out of a Coast Guard helicopter to help with a rescue operation,” he said. “I always remember my first recovery where an 18-year-old jumped in after a fishing pole and drowned. His parents were thankful I was able to recover the body of their son. (Another time) we had to do a recovery of a radio in a drainage ditch after a bank robbery. I’ve dived down to shipwrecks on all sorts of dives. One of my favorites was a friend of mine and I were contracted to get an anchor that went into 85 feet of water near Stoneport.”

He added that scuba diving is something that can captivate people and allows them to see things they otherwise would never get to.

“My youngest son, up until ninth grade, had aspirations to be an engineer. Then I took him diving with me and he went into marine biology because he loved diving so much,” Conway said. “You discover a whole new world that you never get to see if you stay above ground. We know more about outer space than we know about the bottom of the ocean.”

He said that he hopes between his presentation and the VR displays that they can get more people interested in diving.

“My plan is going to be letting them know what some of the diving careers are that are out there, what people can do for fun while diving, and what certifications and equipment you need to do scuba diving,” said Conway. “I’m hoping someone attending gets interested in diving. There’s so much left in the lakes that have yet to be discovered. I hope some kids consider some careers in diving or maybe look into it as a sport.”

“Come and try out some VR, it’s great if you’ve never tried it out before,” added Getzin. “You can learn some great things about Michigan diving and maybe see how to get started.”

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