Swimming with the Fishes

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Not exactly swimming but SCUBA diving. Indiana Conservation Officer Matt Tholen gave the crowd a hands-on demonstration of how conservation officers in the state use SCUBA in their job.

Conservation Officer Matt Tholen showing the crowd his gear.

There are about 25 conservation officers in the state that are certified to dive. Officers dive in lakes, rivers, creeks and really any water to look for evidence or worst case, find missing persons.

Officer Tholen dives reguarly in the Wabash river, as he puts it, the water is so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face.

The gear they use is pretty sophisticated, including a walkie talkie system within the head mask so officers can communicate with one another on a search. They also have computers on them that monitor the amount of air left in their tanks.

Here is the gear in its natural environment - the water. On top of his head you see a flashlight. Remember he dives in the Wabash river.

Officers use the traditional wet suit when diving, but they also have a dry suit. The dry suit is for you guessed it, keeping them dry and warm in cold conditions. It’s not always sunny and 80 degrees outside when officers have to dive. At times officers have to dive after ice fishermen who fall through the ice.

On a hot, sunny Monday at the fair, all of us in attendence were certainly not thinking about icy weather, in fact, I’m sure most of the crowd would have liked to jump into the Fishin’ Pond along with Officer Tholen.
– Don

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