Off the Clock: School of Fish

State College of Florida Manate-Sarasota president Dr. Carol Probstfeld scuba dives in her down time.

By Chelsey Lucas June 1, 2014

SCF's President Carol Probstfeld travels the world to scuba dive.

by Ilene Denton

Photography by Chris Lake

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"It's a complete escape from the world."

WITH 27,000 STUDENTS on three campuses, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota president Dr. Carol Probstfeld’s working life bustles, to say the least. But deep underwater, where the longtime college administrator has completed more than 1,000 scuba dives in the past 22 years, everything is beautiful and serene.

“It’s a complete escape from the world,” says Probstfeld, who assumed the presidency of SCF in early 2013. “It’s quiet; all of your senses are experienced through your vision; and I find that even the sharks I dive with, if you respect their space, they respect yours.”

Probstfeld, who’s dived all over the world, says one of her favorite spots is the island of Komodo in Indonesia. “The underwater environment is so different; it’s black volcanic, so you can actually stick your hand under the sand on the ocean floor and feel the warmth,” she says. The sea life is different, too, including, majestic manta rays with 25-foot wing spans. “As a 5-foot, 8-inch female, I would cover one small tip of one of the wings,” she says.

Underwater photography is a habit she took up four years ago. “It’s challenging; light underwater is a very different concept than light above,” she says. “My theory is if you take enough, some are bound to come out.” Her favorite subjects to snap with her trusty Sealife camera and her newest acquisition—a fish-eye len—she says, are fish.

Probstfeld is getting ready for her next adventure in July, two weeks in Bonaire with her husband—whom she met years ago on a dive trip in the Turks and Caicos—to celebrate her birthday.” ■

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