Twenty New York City teenagers plunged into the waters of Shinnecock Bay yesterday, matched with veteran Long Island scuba divers who took them on an underwater tour.
On the blustery, cool day, the bay's waters were rough, making visibility low, but several of the young divers emerged from the surf talking about the creatures they saw.
"I'd never thought I'd see a scorpion fish in New York," said 14-year-old Jaxon Derow of Brooklyn. "Just the amount of life was incredible."
Katelyn Fong, 16, of Brooklyn, said at one point the entire sea floor was covered in sea stars.
The Long Island Divers Association sponsored the event in Hampton Bays, which brought out scuba-certified students from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island, part of the city's public school system.
The group dove near the Ponquogue Bridge, close to Shinnecock Inlet, at about 2 p.m. It was the first glimpse of Long Island waters for some of the teenagers.
Divers association president Barry Lipsky said this was the first time the group brought children from New York City to Long Island for this type of event. "This is a tremendous experience, not just for them, but for myself and many of the other members of the Long Island Divers Association," Lipsky said.
Sally Wahrmann, 67, of Port Washington, dove with one of the female students. She said the younger diver was nervous so she wanted to hold her hand. But as they swam through the bay, the student decided to let go. "She just felt secure diving with me, so it made me feel good," Wahrmann said.