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More Scuba Diving w/ Animal Collective
December 27, 2011 | 9:00AM

words: Jeff Jetton, photos: Dakota Fine, video: Robin Bell

It’s not every day that we get scooped on our own story, but it’s also not every day that we take members of the band Animal Collective to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to scuba dive. If you haven’t booked your tickets to see Baltimore’s finest indierockers DJ the BYT New Year’s Party, you’d best get yours today.

BONUS: we have a pair of tickets to give away to the Aquarium AND a pair of tickets to our NYE to give away to this (if you want just one of them-note that in the comments). To enter to win leave us a comment telling us who your spirit animal is AND WHY. good luck!

Brian Weitz of the band

You may have previously read a little bit about our exploits on some major blogs like Pitchfork or Domino Records’ website. But while those other guys may have beaten us to the punch on breaking the story, we more than make up for it where it actually counts: we’ve got all the pictures and videos from the dive!

National Aquarium Presents: Scuba Diving with Animal Collective from Bell Visuals on Vimeo.

We’d been planning a dive with Animal Collective for over a year but due to the band’s heavy touring schedule and a few ‘animal emergencies’ at the aquarium we had to scrap several visits. Starfish finally aligned a while back and we were able to get Geologist and Deakin up to the aquarium for a day. It was a homecoming of sorts, the guys actually had their Senior Prom at the aquarium back in high school.

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

If you aren’t too familiar with Animal Collective, we can start by saying they’re probably the most well-reviewed band of the past decade. Their increasingly accessible music has been blowing more and more minds as each successive album brings them additional mainstream success. Their most recent, Merriweather Post Pavillion was at the top of most critics’ year end lists and notably Spin’s album of the year.

Unfortunately, (AC member) Deakin was feeling slightly under the weather and it was decided at the 11th hour that he’d be unable to participate in the actual diving and would have to lend a hand from the banks of the aquarium as moral support.

After a brief safety and instructional session, we made our way over to the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit and geared up to drop in for a forty minute dive with the fish (and giant Moray Eel) of the Atlantic Ocean.

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

The Animal Collective dudes are fairly well-known for their interest and activism in the oceans and ocean conservation. In fact, they recently created a line of shoes with the company Keep where all profits are donated directly to the Socorro Island Conservation Fund.

“After much discussion we decided we wanted to give money to a small under-funded organization to which we felt a personal connection. Josh and I have been scuba diving together for a number of years and the Revillagigedos was one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. Hopefully this project will protect the animals of the Revillagigedos through at least one more fishing season and draw more attention to the global problem of illegal fishing.” says Geologist.

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

High fives were the communication choice of the day as we began interacting with the throngs of children visiting the aquarium for school field trips.

Brian Weitz of the band

Seriously, these kids couldn’t get enough of seeing the divers in the tank.

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

Apparently some of the fish enjoy being showered with pebbles. We were encouraged to scoop up handfuls of little stones and slowly let them drop to the floor, causing scores of fish to poke their heads under the rock stream in some sort of odd cleaning ritual. It’s like crack for fish…

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

Brian Weitz of the band

After the first dive and a short break, we made our way over to the Wings on the Water exhibit and geared up to dive with the rays, skates, sharks and one giant sea turtle.

This particular sea turtle has quite a story. She was rescued by the Riverhead Marine Foundation off Long Island, New York. SHe was cold-stunned and her left front flipper was severely infected. The Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) was called upon to provide treatment. MARP determined that the flipper must be amputated to save the turtle’s life.

Brian Weitz of the band

Because it might not survive in the wild, MARP obtained a special permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service so that the Aquarium could provide the animal with a permanent home. The turtle adapted to life in the exhibit and she is very active, in spite of the missing flipper.

We were also frightened a bit by being in such close proximity to giant stingrays. After all, it was just these types of rays that had savagely attacked the Crocodile Hunter, if you’ll recall. One of these particular creatures jumped out of the water and into his boat and drove a spiny barb right through his heart, killing him instantly.

Brian Weitz of the band

We were assured that it was completely safe to dive with the ‘gentle giants’ though, and that the death of Steve Irwin was just a freak accident.

Brian Weitz of the band

After the dives we took a quick dip into the warmer depths of the gear wash tank. It seemed more like a jacuzzi than something to wash off our equipment, unfortunately there were no jets, but we made do.

Brian Weitz of the band

Special thanks to the National Aquarium for giving us the opportunity to dive at their facility. If you’d like more information on how you can dive at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, go here.

And don’t forget to tell us what YOUR spirit animal is and why in the comments section. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to see Animal Collective DJ at the BYT New Year’s party…

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Recent Comments:
  • AllyBehnke says:

    My spirit animal is mermaid. I love swimming in the ocean and feeling salt water dry on my skin as lay out on rocks. Being a mermaid is DEFINITLY the best of both worlds, because, I can exist between worlds: Ocean & Land. Fantasy & Reality. I was introduced to the mermaid as my spirit animal during a meditation ceremony led by a Peruvian Shaman, during which I had a vision where I was exploring the remains of underwater ship wrecks. AND, just like mermaids, I have a tendency to seduce men and get them to do stupid things when I don’t have a top on.
    I would sooooooo love tickets to BOTH the National Aquarium AND to see Animal Collective DJ for BYT NYE!!!
    Happy Holidays :-)

  • Melinda says:

    My spirit animal is the Siberian Husky. I’ve been working outdoors for the past month. I know it hasn’t been THAT cold, but I love the winter weather when I’m dressed appropriately. Siberian Huskies are always dressed appropriately. I don’t need tickets to the National Aquariam! :)

  • Spirit animal says:

    My spirit animal is an A-10 Warthog.

    Google it, bitches.

  • Animal, the muppet says:

    I am a hungry, hungry hippopotamus because I am fat, angry and love attacking boaters.

  • cubbins says:

    my spirit animal is definitely a unicorn- what’s more magical (and obviously real!) than that?

  • Kelly says:

    When in doubt, GOOGLE.

    Discover your Spirit Animal!

    You are a Wolf! (your score: 24)
    24

    Powers: Stealth, hunting ability, enhanced senses of smell and hearing, as well as strength and stamina

    “Family comes first” could be a Wolf’s motto. You form deep connections with close friends and family members, and they know you’d do anything to protect them. You’re loyal, devoted, and passionate. Your worst fear is being alone, but be careful not to drown your loved ones in too much emotion.

    Best matches: Swans, Otters, Crows

    Watch out for: Spiders, Owls, Foxes

    I have to work on Jan 1 – An Animal Collective DJ’d party is the only thing I’d put my job sobriety in jeopardy for. KICK. ASS.

  • HOVE! says:

    My spirit animal has to be the delicious pig from which all meat candy flows. This begs the eternal question, “If you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself?” You bet your sweet ass I would if I was wrapped in bacon and deep fried.

  • oh,hullo! says:

    combines my two loves – animal collective and aquatics. happy hearts! -a

  • My Samoan attorney says:

    My spirit animal is (along with David Bowie apparently) the common north sea jellyfish. I don’t do much, I procreate in warmer climates, completely left at the mercy of mother nature and oil tankers, not to good looking, probably some japanese people who would like to eat me, don’t pose much of a threat, annoying at most.

    • Bernadette says:

      2013 年 4 月 7 日You are so cool! I don’t think I’ve read something like this beorfe. So great to find somebody with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

    • Paul says:

      Reading this makes my denicioss easier than taking candy from a baby.

  • The BULL says:

    My spirit animal has to be the bull. It may not be scientific or the result of an online survey of any kind but I have had a weird connection with the animal throughout my life.

    Well, to start off, Ive been associated with the animal before I was even thought to be born. My father’s last name is Villatoro which is latin-derivative to mean “Village of the Bulls.” On our family crest, we have pictures of bulls which stand proudly under our family’s name.

    Secondly, I was born towards the end of April which means that my astronomical sign is in fact, Taurus. Taurus which you guessed it, is also an astrological bull. I was actually born a week late which had I been born on time, I would have been an Aquarius.

    Thirdly, I have this weird connection to Sevilla, Spain. Allegedly, my great great grandfather practiced Judaism and was from the area surrounding Sevilla and during the Inquisition is when he decided to hop on a boat and head to the Americas in fear of being killed. Sevilla, Spain is synonymous for bull-fighting. In fact, it is considered one of the first, if not the first place to have bull-fighting in the world.

    So there ya go, it’s fate! The bull has to be my spirit animal.

    Also – Although I love the National Aquarium, I’ve been several times and my spirit animal is not present at this fine establishment so I think I’d pass on those tickets. Bring on the NYE festivities!!

    Merry Christmas // Hannukah // etc. & a Happy New Years BYT!!!

  • yassyp says:

    le sigh, i almost forgot. my actual counterpart … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifi_La_Fume

  • La-ren says:

    My spirit animal is an elephant because we share similar qualities. I have a keen sense of memory, am sensitive to others’ feelings, and hold my family in high regards.

    • Biowin says:

      2013 年 4 月 4 日I seriously love your webitse.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you develop this webitse yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my very own webitse and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Kudos!

  • yassyp says:

    My spirit animal is the skunk, like the skunk Flower in Bambi (the saddest Disney movie EVER!). Flower is shy, but in my case we can say it stands for my naivete. I’m also a huge flirt and draw people in with the way I look, but if you mess with me, boy do you not know what’s coming too you.

  • Ming says:

    My animal spirit is Panda because I am Chinese and totally adorable.

  • MELAKNEEZ says:

    A quiz on google said my spirit animal was a dolphin or water animal .. maybe but i don’t really like being in open waters. i guess my spirit animal would have to be a female deer.
    ex: the comedian told the joke and everyone laughed..except for Melanie. she looked like a deer in headlights.

  • TravYAWOL says:

    My spirit animal is chuck Norris. It used to be the lion, you know, because of the leadership, strong will and all that… but he got his neck snapped :/

  • hemm says:

    The spirit animal that guides my being is the sea otter, because sea otters hold hands in the water while sleeping so they don’t drift apart.

  • carbonaria says:

    Without a doubt, my spirit animal is the Chihuahua. We are both small and feisty and can easily sniff out the nearest Taco Bell. Also, we’re both very intimidating.

  • Kassawass says:

    My spirit animal is a cat. Now, that may initially sound like a lame cop-out, but gimme five seconds (or more) to explain. Specifically, my spirit animal is MY cat Tacoma-cat. Now, Tacoma is a mancoon-tabby mix otherwise known as FIERCE. She’s calico in coloring meaning she’s got FAB style. And, I mean let’s be honest, the life of a cat is LEISURELY and who wouldn’t want that? Setting Tacoma-cat (and myself) apart is the EPIC-ness that follows us anywhere. Just ask any of Tacoma-cat’s catsitters… Tacoma’s nature is flirtatious and playful… until she bites. So, if you want someone who’s fierce, fab, leisurely and playful at that BYT NYE party, I think the best way to go is me! =)

  • barracudabuddha says:

    Mine is the caddisfly larvae because it loves both the water and to create things. They are, essentially, underwater caterpillars that spin their homes out of silk and pebbles, sticks, etc. Amazing.

  • leefishywithaz says:

    My spirit animal is a giraffe. I’m a tall freckled girl, nuff said.