Santa Claus isn’t only a friend to reindeer and elves – he also has friends under the sea.

Yesterday, the holiday saint paid his first of three visits this week to the National Aquarium. As we live in modern times, the Santa that debuted underwater at the Inner Harbor was actually a female diver named Stephanie Richards. With assistance from “helper”Luann Barndt, who was carrying the line for oxygen, she dropped by the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit to swim with the sharks and many exotic fish inside.

Over the course of her 15-minute dive, Santa spoke to a young audience on the other side of the glass about sea creatures and the importance of designating protective habitats for them. (All of this was possible thanks to a nifty underwater microphone.) The entire time, she was surrounded by sharks and other creatures moseying around the tank, though that probably wasn’t too weird for an experienced diver like Santa.

Families who missed out on the first dive shouldn’t fret. Parents can bring their children down to the aquarium to see him Santa at 2 p.m. today and tomorrow. While they’re there, they might as well experience the classic animated “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 4-D at the aquarium’s Immersion Theater.

It’s pretty generous for Santa to drop by the Inner Harbor for these visits, though who can blame him for needing a dose of scuba excitement after trying to cheer up holiday travelers this week at BWI?

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...