Scuba diving pizza maker, 59, started delivering after losing job due to Covid

Thane Milhoan (right) delivers pizza to guests at an underwater lodge in Florida, USA (Photo: Pat Malloy)

A scuba diver revealed what life is like by delivering meals to guests at an underwater hotel.

Thane Milhoan, 59, believes he and his colleague may well be the only ‘submarine pizza delivery men’ in the world – but told it wasn’t all easy.

The habitat operations manager at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Florida thinks the best part of the job is seeing people’s reaction as he comes to the surface with their food.

Speaking exclusively to the website, the former dive instructor explained that he worked as a high school sports reporter in Hawaii before the Covid crisis hit.

Now he’s traded that for the most unlikely of roles in Key Largo, part of which includes swimming for guests staying at the new resort and delivering their food.

Asked about his favorite part of the job, Thane explained, “I appreciate the reactions people have to their pizza delivery and the whole experience of staying in the underwater habitat.”

But Thane, of Hilo, Hawaii, added that winter poses problems.

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‘This time of year the water temperature drops to 70 degrees Fahrenheit [around 20°C] and so it’s a little cold and it can get dark earlier, which can feel a bit like a night dive, ”he said.

However, the hardest part of the job is keeping the pizzas dry and warm during the short dive.

Thane explains, “To do this we use a dry box, we double it in plastic bags just to keep it very dry.

“The second challenge is to keep the linings from falling out, so we use strategically placed weights and clips to keep the box level in the water. “

The lodge itself, open about 35 years ago, was originally a research lab used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico.

A couple are staying at Jules Undersea Lodge, seen through the window.

Guests enjoy their stay in the place, which is located in a ‘natural nursery’ for young fish (Photo: Jules’ Undersea Lodge)

Named in honor of Jules Verne, author of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, it welcomes divers in a mangrove lagoon considered as a “natural nursery” for many fish, including barracudas, tropical angelfish. , snappers and parrotfish that glance curiously at their human neighbors through the windows.

It includes a microwave, refrigerator and snorkeling equipment, which guests will need to get to their rooms.

Dr Neil Monney and Ian Koblick are credited with starting the business, which now has round-the-clock monitoring from a land-based ‘command center’, which also supplies fresh air, water, and gas. water, electricity and communications.

Ian, widely regarded as a pioneer of the underwater world, explained: “Marine life is actually enhanced by the presence of an underwater structure.

Jules's submarine lodge.

The Lodge was originally built as a research laboratory (Photo: Jules’ Undersea Lodge)

“Jules” Undersea Lodge serves as an artificial reef, providing shelter and substrate for marine animals.

“And the airflow to the lodge is constantly adding oxygen to the entire surrounding body of water, creating a symbiotic relationship between human technology and the beauty of nature.”

Daniel Belzio, another mission manager at the hotel, shares pizza delivery responsibilities with Thane.

While their respective jobs primarily involve other tasks, submarine pizza chefs can expect around $ 15 to $ 20 (around £ 11 to £ 15) an hour, plus tips for their delivery services. diving.

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Thane isn’t sure how many people delivered pizzas for Jules’ Lodge, but knows there were plenty.

When it comes to career prospects for those who see the role as a dream job, Thane doesn’t sound overly optimistic – but he jokes that the bleak future climate experts anticipate could present unlikely opportunities for him. his work.

“You never know with the sea level rise in Kiribati or the Maldives or something like that – people start to live underwater, the underwater pizza delivery guy can become a thing,” he says. he.

“Until then, since we’re the only underwater hotel in the world that must be accessed by dive, we probably have the exclusive franchise on the underwater pizza delivery game for quite a while.”

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