General Manager / Instructor Trainer
Hometown: Temple City, CA
Born at the tender age of zero, he began his first migration towards the great Pacific Ocean. Forged by the rough shell sand and pounding temperate waves, he formed a deep connection with the sea and all of her creatures. Now he uses his powers to teach others how to form a deep and lasting relationship with our mother, Ocean.
In his terrestrial life, Thomas is most commonly spotted at the Ocean Safari headquarters answering calls, repairing equipment, orchestrating excursions, and signing autographs.
After hours he must travel to the nearest body of water to avoid desiccation, often spending his weekday evenings teaching scuba, free diving, and rescue diving at the Norman S. Johnson Aquatic Center in Arcadia.
When he is not “working” photography, music, surfing, and hiking are his go-to activities.
Though his powers are great and many, there are still countless migrations ahead.
Join Ocean Safari and view this majestic creature on your next underwater adventure.
Recreational Chamber Visit
January 22, 2020
Once a year we enjoy the privilege of capping off a trip to Catalina with a tour of the Wrigley Hyperbaric Facility. This year we were grateful to receive out tour from the director fo the chamber himself, Carl Huggins. As he showed us around the facility he explained where the chamber came from, why its important to us, and how it works. He also took the time to explain to us the reasons people end up in the chamber, and how we can prevent any non-recreational visits to the facility.
The need for the chamber arose after research divers got DCS and didn't have any options outside of commercial and military dive chambers. The chamber was donated to the county by the Lockheed company in the 1970's. It was originally used by Lockheed in their SR-71 and SST programs for the pilots who developed decompression sickness. Now a days this is not the only chamber available to us because hospitals are using them more and more to treat burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other serious wounds. The difference between the facility on Catalina Island and the chamber sin hospitals is the size and the dedication of this facility to treat diving accidents. Catalina chamber is supported by donations from local divers and companies. It only has one full time employee, and is staffed with a team of volunteers. With out the support of the volunteers and donations for the community we would not be able to have this great facility to take care of us in the event of decompression illness.
The 2 dives we had before the chamber tour were fantastic. We were lucky to have the sun out for both our dives, 40' visibility, and 60 degree water. We intended to dive at bird rock for our first dive but arrived to find one dive boat live-boating the site and two other dive boats anchored on both sides of the rock. We motored over to rock quarry to find super glassy surface conditions and a healthy bed of kelp that stretched out 200 yards down the cove. My favorite experience of this dive was gliding through the forrest with my advanced class and looking up through the kelp to see thousands of little black smith fluttering through the sunlight. After we were all back on board we went back to Bird Rock, but the wind was picking up and white caps were starting to form. To play it safe we left it for another day, and tied up at the mooring on Lulu's reef where the water was also glassy. When we got in the water I was happy to feel there was a slight current, which means that more fish would be out and about. We experienced a unique phenomenon of thousands of pyrosomes floating around and piled up on the floor all around the reef. It was really fun to see them fly up into the water as the vortex from peoples fins collided with the stacked up creatures.
Pyrosomes are colonial organisms, which means each of the ones that we recognize are made up of millions of smaller organisms. They are bioluminescent at night and in the day time have iridescent pink coloration. They float freely through the water column filtering microscopic plant cells out of the water to feed them selves. All of the divers were amazed at what they saw, and many learned for the first time that this peaceful creature exists.