A scuba diver has revealed what life is like delivering meals to guests at an undersea hotel.
Thane Milhoan, 59, believes he and his colleague just might be the world’s only ‘underwater pizza delivery boys’ – but has told Metro.co.uk that it isn’t all plain sailing.
The habitat operations manager at Florida’s Jules’ Undersea Lodge believes the best part about the job is seeing people’s reaction as he comes up to the surface with their food.
Speaking exclusively to the website, the former diving instructor explained that he was working as a high school sports reporter in Hawaii before the Covid crisis hit.
Now he’s swapped that for the unlikeliest of roles in Key Largo, part of which includes swimming to guests who stay in the novelty resort and delivering their food.
Asked about his favourite part of the job, Thane explained: ‘I enjoy the reactions that people have to getting their pizza delivered and to the whole experience of staying in the underwater habitat.’
But Thane, from Hilo, Hawaii, added that winter presents some problems.
‘This time of year the water temperatures get down in the low 70s Fahrenheit [around 20°C] and so it’s a little chilly and it can get dark earlier so it can be a little like a night dive’, he said.
The most challenging part of the job, however, is keeping the pizzas dry and hot during the short dive.
Thane explains: ‘In order to do that we use a dry box, we double bag it in plastic bags just to keep it extra special dry.
‘The second challenge is keeping the toppings from falling off, so we use weights and some strategically placed clips to keep the box level in the water.’
The lodge itself, which has been open for roughly 35 years, was originally a research laboratory used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Named in honour of Jules Verne, author of ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’, it welcomes divers to a mangrove lagoon hailed as a ‘natural nursery’ for many fish, including barracuda, tropical angelfish, snapper and parrotfish that take a curious glance at their human neighbours through the windows.
It includes a microwave, fridge and scuba gear, which guests will need to get to their room.
Dr Neil Monney and Ian Koblick are credited with starting the venture, which now has round-the-clock monitoring from a land-based ‘command centre’, which also provides fresh air, water, power, and communications.
Ian, widely seen as a pioneer in the underwater world, explained: ‘Marine life is actually enhanced by the presence of an underwater structure.
‘Jules’ Undersea Lodge serves as an artificial reef, providing shelter and substrate for marine animals.
‘And the flow of air to the lodge constantly adds oxygen to the entire surrounding body of water, creating a symbiotic relationship between the technology of man and the beauty of nature.’
Splitting the pizza delivery responsibilities with Thane is Daniel Belzio, another mission director at the hotel.
Although their respective jobs mainly involve other duties, the underwater pizza boys can expect somewhere in the region of $15 – $20 (roughly £11 – £15) an hour plus tips for their diving delivery services.
Thane is not sure exactly how many people have delivered pizzas for Jules’ Lodge, but knows there have been many.
As far as future career prospects go for those who see the role as a dream job, Thane does not seem hugely optimistic – but he jokes that the grim future that climate experts anticipate might offer some unlikely opportunities for his line of work.
‘You never know with rising sea levels in places Kiribati or the Maldives or something – people start living underwater, the underwater pizza delivery boy may become a thing’, he says.
‘Until then, since we are the world’s only underwater hotel that has to be accessed via scuba, we probably have the exclusive franchise on the underwater pizza delivery game for quite a while.‘
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