:: Dave Parker - Distinguished Service - 2012-13
David H. Parker is the Founder and former CEO and President of Pelican Products, Inc.
Dave began his life long association with the scuba industry as an 11 year old boy. He was first introduced to the sport in a 1950’s article in Popular Science Marine outlining a method for assembling a crude SCUBA device using a garden hose, a paint compressor, a lawn mower engine and an enema bag. Dave first learned to dive in his home state of Michigan and continued to enjoy the sport as he traveled during his six year stint in the Air Force. He eventually landed in California where he met and married his now deceased wife Arline.
In 1974 his life took a dramatic turn. He’d been thinking for some time about a problem that he often faced while diving. Air is low, the location you’re diving is exciting and the likelihood of finding it again after surfacing to change tanks was low. He set out to solve this problem. After several trial and error starts (beginning with a hockey stick handle, a water ski float and a boat zinc clam shell) he invented and patented a marker recovery device well known 30 years later as the Pelican Float.
The unit operates by disengaging a weight from a floatable buoy. The weight sits at the ocean bottom while the float, which is attached to the weight by several hundred feet of marine grade rope, floats to the surface. With the bright yellow body of the float bobbing in the water, it was simple to dive the line and return to the previous location. Dave was convinced he was on to something. “We maxed out our credit cards, took a 2nd on our home and borrowed $20,000 from Arline’s mother!!” and Pelican Products, Inc. was born, or as Dave puts it, “just happened” in his back yard garage.
By 1978, Parker had said goodbye to the graphic arts design and sales agency he’d launched more than 10 years prior to focus all his attention on their new business.
Since founding Pelican Products over 30 years ago, Parker was instrumental in developing the company from its humble beginnings into a flourishing and well respected global manufacturer of Equipment Protector Cases and submersible, waterproof and safety approved flashlights. In addition, Parker was honored with several civic awards over the years, including Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year and 1st runner up SBA National Business Person of the Year (which was awarded in the White House Rose Garden Ceremony by President Bill Clinton).
Pelican continues an aggressive growth strategy with new markets, new product categories and geographic expansion.
In addition to Company Founder, Michigan born and raised Parker has held several other respected positions throughout his professional career, from National Sales Management to serving our country in the United States Air Force. He has since retired but stays active and lives life to the fullest.
Pelican Products, Inc. is the global leader in the design and manufacture of both high-performance protective case solutions and advanced portable lighting systems. Their products are used by professionals in the most demanding markets including fire safety, law enforcement, defense / military, aerospace, entertainment, industrial and consumer. Pelican products are designed and built to last a lifetime. The company operates in 19 countries, with 27 offices and six manufacturing facilities across the globe. For more information, visit
:: Zale Parry - Distinguished Service - 1973
Zale Parry, is arguably the most famous scuba diver in the world today. Zale was a pioneer skin diver in the 1940s and an early underwater equipment tester for Scientific Underwater Research Enterprises in 1953. Zale also helped run the first civilian hyperbaric chamber for divers in California. In 1954, she set a womans depth record to 209 feet and became the third femaleinstructor to graduate from the L.A. County UICC program. That same year, Zale made her screen debut in Kingdom of the Sea, a Jack Douglas Production, which was shown in 70 countries and had a successful run of several years. Zales knowledge of skin and scuba diving, as well as her astounding beauty in Kingdom of the Sea, made the producers of Sea Hunt cast her immediately without so much as a single screen test.
Besides her diving expertise, Zales artistic talents are manifold from acting to photography to writing. An accomplished underwater photographer herself, in 1957, Zale co-founded the International Underwater Film Festival that ran for 17years. In 1960, she became the first elected woman president of the U/W Photographic Society. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Zale remained in demand as an actress and underwater stuntwoman for all the Hollywood studios (she never had to audition for a part). Her credits include, Kingdom of the Sea, Sea Hunt, GE Theatre, Wagon Train, Peter Gunn, and more. She also made over two dozen "wet" and "dry" television commercials and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated several times.
Even though Zale is "semi-retired" from film, she is not content to rest on her laurels. Zale continues to enthrall and inspire audiences today with her photo presentations and lectures on the beauty of the underwater world. She recently published a book with Al Tillman entitled, Scuba America Vol. I, the Human History of Sport Diving in America, and is already busy working on Volumes II through V. Zale is a recipient of the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service, DEMA's Reaching Out Award, the Womens Scuba Association Scuba Diver of the Year Award, and the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Education Award. In 2001, Zale was made a "Lifetime Ambassador at Large," by The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. In 2002, she was inducted into the Cayman Island International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame and received the Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year Award. Zale has been an ardent supporter of The Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) since its inception in 1999.
In 2004, Zale returned to her movie roots with a role in the film, "Tilamook Treasure," which has been her home town for the last few years. Zale has become an active conservation spokesperson throughout the Pacific Northwest and in November 2006, she introduced the Zale Parry Scholarship which is administered by The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. The Zale Parry Scholarship offers $1500 and a travel stipend of $500 annually to young people seeking careers in ocean exploration, hyperbaric research, equipment technology and/or marine conservation.
:: Alese & Morton Pechter - Distinguished Service - 2003
Alese & Morton Pechter have worked for years within the SCUBA industry and with the general public to create an awareness of SCUBA as an accepted sport. Their contact and work with the mass media helped to change the image of the industry from "macho" to an accepted family recreational sport.
As the official photographers for DEMA almost since its inception, they have traveled the globe documenting the underwater experience… photographing, writing and lecturing, passing the word along about the world of SCUBA. Scientists and writers, as well as media personnel, have been the beneficiaries of their excellent candids. Accompanying the DEMA press trips they have also supplied the underwater and topside photos for international journalists whose articles have appeared worldwide in publications outside the diving community. Their photographic library is a veritable history of the diving world and international SCUBA sites.
The Pechters are themselves renowned underwater photojournalists.... active photographers, authors, teachers, divers and lecturers, searching for sunken archeological treasures, photographing the magnificent reefs or investigating the deep ocean. Always conscious of the need to protect and preserve these
beautiful natural wonders, the Pechters work ardently to make others aware. They specialize in multi-media productions that instruct while they entertain, visiting with school children and with adult groups to promote ocean conservation.
The Pechter's children's book, What's In The Deep? has received public and critical acclaim and has been chosen a Reading Rainbow selection. It was the first ocean oriented book geared to youngsters that carried actual photographs of the underwater world, rather than illustrations that came from someone's imagination. The Pechter's book, What's In The Deep?, has become a science text in libraries and classrooms throughout the country.
Alese and Mort have been masthead contributors to Underwater USA, Caribbean Travel & Life, Dive Training and Rodale's Sport Diver publications. Several of their underwater photos were selected by the Chinese government to be part of a special art show touring their country.
Ardent marine ecology advocates and always conscious of the fact that little ones who snorkel may become SCUBA divers, the Pechters have been fervent promoters of family involvement in the water world. They have been pioneers in their promotion of snorkeling as an active, family recreational sport that encourages the conservation & ecological spirit of the individual.
The Pechters have been elected Fellow National members in the prestigious Explorers Club for their contribution to scientific knowledge in the field of geographical exploration, Life members of the National Marine Educators Association, the Historical Divers Association and are also members of the Oceanography Society. Alese was elected a charter member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
Recognized as outstanding underwater photojournalists, New York Times art critic David Shirey has stated the Pechters' photographs "reflect a technique, a specialized expertise and an aesthetic authority that gives us a new understanding of underwater photography."
The Pechters have been the featured speakers on several television productions, among them a special television production about sea and space including Michael Collins, the command module pilot for the first landing on the moon. Their photos and articles have appeared not only in SCUBA publications but in general interest magazines and newspapers throughout the world and their multi-media presentations and seminars on ecology, marine biology, land and underwater photography, travel and on the creation of multi-media shows, have captivated audiences at museums, schools, SCUBA shows and universities throughout the world.
The Pechters have had several prestigious art gallery shows and their works are hanging in private collections as well as being part of the permanent collections of the Long Island Science Museum, Florida Atlantic University and Adelphi University. They were active founding members of the Long Island Science Museum having carried the title of Administrative Vice President of the museum for several years.
Among their many awards, Alese & Morton Pechter have been honored by the United Nations Environment Programme and recognized by the US Navy as Honorary Deep Sea Divers. They have also been honored by the South Florida Police Search & Rescue Teams, were selected as the 1996 Photojournalists of the Year and been awarded the 2003 NOGI for Distinguished Service.
The Pechters have the unique ability to instill in others the same excitement and enthusiasm for life's wonders that they have. Their obvious delight for the world beneath the sea is nurtured by their deep commitment to conservation and preservation of the underwater wilderness.
:: Hon. Jacques Piccard, Ph.D. - Science - 1967
Jacques Piccard is a Belgian explorer, engineer and physicist, known for having developed underwater vehicles for studying ocean currents. He is the only person (as of 2006), along with Lt. Don Walsh, to have reached the deepest point on the earth's surface, the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench. Jacques Piccard was born July 28, 1922 in Brussels, Belgium to his famous Swiss born father, Auguste Piccard, who was himself an adventurer and engineer. When Jacques was born, Auguste was a professor at the University of Brussels. Jacques also helped his father build the bathyscaphe for deep-sea exploration. On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh reached the ocean floor in the Challenger Deep with his bathyscaphe Trieste. The depth of the descent was measured at 10,916 meters (35,813 feet), later more accurate measurements in 1995 have found the Challenger Deep to be less deep at 10,911 m (35,797 ft). The descent took almost five hours and the two men spent barely twenty minutes on the ocean floor before undertaking the 3 hour 15 minute ascent. Following the success of the bathyscaphe, Auguste and Jacques then began developing a "mesoscaphe"--a ship that could operate at depths of up to 2,000 feet. Piccard envisioned it as a tourist submarine, and the first mesoscaphe, Auguste Piccard, carried more than 30,000 passengers into Lake Geneva at the Swiss National Exhibition in 1964-65. Working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Piccard then developed a second vessel, the Ben Franklin, for the Gulf Stream Mission, which studied the physical and biological features of the Gulf Stream on its month-long voyage from Florida to Nova Scotia in 1969. His account of that voyage was published in The Sun Beneath the Sea. During the 1970's, Piccard formed the Foundation for the Study and Preservation of Seas and Lakes based in Cully, Switzerland and began warning about the dangers of pollution and overfishing. His new submersibles included Forel, launched in 1979, which made more than 700 dives in European lakes for scientific, industrial, and recovery missions. Although he continued his research for governments, universities, and the police, his efforts in later years included developing passenger vessels. He developed more than 40 innovative designs for commercial sightseeing submersibles, of which half a dozen were built. Piccard also became a founder of the Exploration Society of America, an international travel group
:: Dr. Richard Pyle, Ph.D. - Science - 2004
Dr. Richard Pyle was born and raised in Hawaii, where his passion for "all things fish" began at a very early age. He set up his first aquarium when he was five years old, and started scuba diving when he was thirteen. By the time he was nineteen, he wound up living in Palau where his passion for discovering new fishes lured him into deep water, resulting in a crippling case of decompression sickness while diving with world-renown ichthyologist John "Jack" Randall. Jack then offered him a job in the fish collection of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu, where Richard continues to work nearly two decades later.
Earning his PhD under Jack's tutelage, Richard's passion for undersea exploration never waned. Determined to continue exploring of the coral reef "Twilight Zone" (200-500 feet deep) in a safe and responsible way, he was among the pioneers of modern Technical Diving in the late 1980's. In 1994 he began as a test-diver for the prototype Cis-Lunar MK-4 closed-circuit rebreather, and has traveled the Pacific in search of new species of fishes on deep coral reefs - which he and his colleagues are discovering at a rate of eleven new species per hour of bottom time.
Richard has authored over a hundred scientific, technical, and popular articles and has been featured in dozens of documentary films (including the IMAX film, Coral-Reef Adventure). He was a founding member and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Association for Marine Exploration - a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting innovative scientific exploration using advanced diving equipment and techniques. In 2004, he was selected by Esquire magazine for the "Best and Brightest" issue, and was also recipient of the "Genius Award" from General Electric to help support his research.
:: John E. Randall, Ph.D. - Science - 2000
John E. "Jack" Randall was born on May 22, 1924 in Hollywood, CA. At age 5 the family moved to Beverly Hills where his father, a building contractor, designed and built a Spanish style house. At high school Jack took two courses in biology. The advanced course included a field trip to Palos Verdes to learn the biota of the tidepools. That resulted in Jack's changing from a hobby of keeping freshwater tropical fishes to a marine aquarium. During summer months he and a buddy went fishing on the live bait boats out of Newport Beach and sold their fish to make enough money to pay for the next trip. Jack's father wanted him to be an architect, but instead he majored in Zoology at UCLA. When only a freshman, he was a springboard diver on the UCLA swim team. He remembers diving in competition with Sammy Lee of Occidental College, who had twice won the gold medal in 3-meter diving at Olympics. Jack placed third that day behind Lee and a protege.
In July, 1942 he was called to active duty from the U.S. Army Enlisted Reserve Corps and underwent basic training at what is now Fort Hood, Texas. After sets of exams he was sent back to college in the Army Specialized Training Program for engineering. That program was cancelled soon after D-day, and Jack spent the next six months as a dental assistant in the 37th Infantry Regiment at Ft. Benning, GA. From there he managed to get accepted to Office Candidate School and became a medical administrative officer for the rest of the war at a general hospital in Menlo Park, CA.
:: G. Carleton Ray Ph.D. - Environment - 2013
G. Carleton Ray was born in 1928 in New York City. He earned a B.S. from Yale, an M.S. from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Columbia University all in Zoology. He started in 1952 as a Laboratory Assistant, lecturer and then instructor in zoology at Columbia. For ten years he was Assistant to the Director, Assistant Curator, Associate Curator, Curator, and Field Associate for the New York Zoological Society.
He has been a professor at Rutgers and Johns Hopkins University and is currently Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. During a span of over five decades, Carleton focused on cross-disciplinary coastal-marine research and conservation, parallel fields that have now merged to become conservation ecology. Early on, Dr. Ray recognized the central roles of natural
history and interdisciplinary approaches. Hence, he worked in polar, temperate, and tropical environments while informing the public about coastal-marine science and conservation.
His often ground-breaking research included physiology, taxonomy, oceanography, physics (acoustics), and behavior. Combining these data led to a better understanding of coastal- marine conservation. He was the first to initiate scuba diving in Antarctica for research on polar marine mammals. More recently, his work has culminated in a textbook co-authored with his wife M.G. McCormick- Ray:
Coastal-Marine Conservation: Science and Policy.
He has authored or co-authored (often with M. G. McCormick-Ray):
• 10 books (two for children) and environmental data atlases,
• more than 250 scientific papers, reports, and abstracts in science, conservation, and management, with titles like Conservation of marine habitats and their biota, An ecosystem approach to marine parks, and Bahamas National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan;
• about 50 articles in popular magazines including titles for children like The seal that sings underwater for Ranger Rick’s Nature Magazine. He has served on the editorial board of five science journals. Dr. Ray has also taken part in the production of films (including the
1965 award winning Noisy Underwater World of the Weddell Seal with Peter Gimbel) and television programs on natural history and environmental conservation for educational and entertainment purposes.
Dr. Ray has taken a lead in program-building in both research and conservation of
• the establishment of the world’s first land-and- sea park, Exuma Cays in The Bahamas, 1958-9.
• He initiated the Marine Mammal Program of the International Biological Programme.
• He helped draft and testified in Congress on behalf of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
• He served on the initial Committee of Scientific Advisors of the Marine Mammal Commission.
• With the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), he helped form the Marine Steering Committee-- the first
international effort in marine conservation -- which led to IUCN’s drafting of the World Conservation Strategy. Dr. Ray also took part in the early
development of the concept of Biosphere Reserves for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and served on U.S. MAB’s first Biosphere Reserve Directorate and the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Directorate. In the 1990s, he helped initiate the IUBS/SCOPE/UNESCO Diversitas Programme.
For all of these, he served on organizing committees, and also often as Chair or Vice Chair. He has been a consultant to • the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration;
• the National Parks Service; • the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress;
• the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN, the World
•the Australian Nature Conservation Agency;
• the Office of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas; • the World Bank;
• the Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association, Citizens for Albemarle (his home county), and many more. As well as taking
part in Congressional legislation (notably the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Coastal Zone Management and Marine Sanctuaries acts), he has testified before Congress on several occasions. His list of awards is more than impressive. Here are just a few: In 1959 he earned the James Howard McGregor Award for Teaching at Columbia University. In 1966 the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names chose 85o07’S/170o48’W in Antarctica to be called Mt. Ray. In 2010 he was honored with the Achievement in Conservation Award from the World
Conservation Society, New York Aquarium, Brooklyn, New York. Presently, he is concentrating on teaching as a part of the University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences conservation-science initiative. He is also pursuing research interests mostly in arctic environments. For the former, the revision of their book Coastal-Marine Conservation: Science and Policy is taking highest priority; for the latter, he is pursuing research on diminishing Arctic sea ice and its effects on marine mammals.
:: Andreas B. Rechnitzer, Ph.D. - Sports / Education - 1999 - Distinguished Service - 1989 - Science - 1968
Andy Rechnitzer was one of the first pioneers in diving, having made discoveries and inroads and written manuals for all the major fields of diving: scientific, military, commercial and recreational. Andy he was the only NOGI Fellow to receive 3 NOGI Awards- Science, 1968, Distinguished Service, 1989, Sports and Education, 1999 - and he was nominated for a fourth NOGI (Arts) this year!
Andy was a student of Scripps Professor Dr. Carl Hubbs. In 1955, Hubbs and Rechnitzer discovered and identified the striped yellow fish that now serves as the official logo of Scripps' Birch Aquarium (Chaetodon falcifer). While at Scripps, then part of UCLA, Andy, Connie Limbaugh, and Jim Stewart developed the first SCUBA diver training program for ocean scientists, which included such innovations as ditch-and-don, buddy breathing, and the buddy system. That SCUBA training program is the basis of all major sport diving certification programs in the world today, including PADI and NAUI. Upon graduation from SIO, Andy considered staying at Scripps, but Roger Revelle told him to head out into the world. Later, Andy recalled, "It was the best advice he could have given me."
As a member of the U.S. Navy-ONR Evaluation team, Rechnitzer was instrumental in negotiating the purchase of the deep diving bathyscaphe, Trieste, from Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard. Rechnitzer, along with Scripps alumni, Art Maxwell, Scripps researcher Willard Bascom, and Captain Charles Bishop, USN, (later with MPL), had Trieste brought from Italy to San Diego's Naval Electronics Lab (NEL), on Point Loma. Rechnitzer, a civilian scientist, was made Scientist-in-Charge of Project NEKTON. On January 23, 1960, Trieste dove with pilot Don Walsh and observer Jacques Piccard to 35,800-ft into the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean depth. The success kick-started deep submergence development in the U.S., and many businesses in San Diego. Rechnitzer was awarded the Navy Department Distinguished Civilian Service Award by President Dwight Eisenhower. He then led the development of the Beaver IV diver LILO submersible at Rockwell International. Andy then joined the scientific staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and Oceanographer of the Navy from 1970-1984. He later joined SAIC as Senior Scientist from 1985-1998. In 2002, the History Channel aired the special "The Deepest Dive", co-produced by Andy and Ed Cargile, recounting the obstacles and milestones on the way to the bottom of the sea.
Andy was also an early advocate of K-12 outreach, authoring segments of books on hands-on marine science for young students. He founded and was first president of the Ocean Institute (Dana Point, CA), which continues to collaborate with Scripps and other scientists as an informal center of marine education today.
:: Carl Roessler - Sports / Education - 2007
Carl Roessler never knew he would become a pioneer in international dive travel until fifteen years after he began his business career.
Carl worked for General Electric and IBM after graduating from Yale University. His work at IBM included being IBM’s representative serving Yale University, a major client. That assignment led to his appointment in 1964 as Director of Computation at Yale.
As Director, Carl managed the university’s computer utility, a large network offering access to a supercomputer for researchers across the campus. He also led a design team to develop a pioneering management information system for budgeting, accounting and personnel records for the institution. IBM purchased that original system from Yale, and much of what corporations use today to run their management operations originated in that era, building off Yale’s and similar systems.
After five years building strong management teams to run the university’s computer centers, Carl realized a long-held dream and moved with his wife and children to the Caribbean islands of Curacao and Bonaire. During 1969-72, Carl hosted dive groups organized by See & Sea Travel, Inc. of San Francisco.
In 1972, Carl was approached by Dewey Bergman of See & Sea to forsake the Caribbean and travel the world. For the next twenty-five years, Carl organized permanent dive programs in over thirty of what are now the world’s best-loved dive destinations. After Dewey Bergman’s retirement in 1977, Carl became president of See & Sea, the world’s first and largest travel agency exclusively devoted to dive travel.
In his long career in dive travel, Carl was the leading marketer and popularize of expeditionary live-aboard dive cruisers that offered good food and comfort while maximizing diving opportunities on remote reefs far from hotels, airports and population centers. Carl’s favorite dive sites were often hundreds of miles from any shore base. Dive travel was a small industry in those early days, so the vessels Carl used were former fishing boats, motor-sailors, or whatever kind of ship could transport the divers and their equipment to the remote areas they explored. While some of the vessels were a bit primitive, it was truly a Golden Age of diving exploration!
Today’s world-wide fleet of large, luxurious dive cruisers developed from those modest origins, and live-aboard diving is now a significant portion of the overall dive travel market.
Beginning in 1967, Carl began taking underwater pictures during his overseas dive trips. Gradually he amassed an enormous collection of images from all around the tropical world. Hundreds of his photos and articles have appeared in major magazines and textbooks in the U.S. and Europe. His specialties are fish portraits, model photos and especially sharks during their feeding. His photo of an attacking Great White shark was used by Apple’s Steve Jobs in a speech in 1997 and the final scenes in the 2015 movie Steve Jobs re-created that moment.
Carl’s 1977 book The Underwater Wilderness was a best-seller, and an alternate selection of the Book-of the-Month Club in 1977. In 1984, three of Carl’s books (The Undersea Predators, Mastering Underwater Photography and Divers Guide to the Cayman Islands) were published to rave reviews. In 1986 Carl’s book, Coral Kingdoms, published by Harry N. Abrams Co. of New York, was his second Book-of-the Month Club selection. 1991 saw the publication of Carl’s Diver’s Guide to Australia, and 1992’s book was Great Reefs of the World. Throughout the years, Carl has also run an active business selling his images to magazines, book publishers and stock photo companies.
Carl’s adventures over the past three decades have brought the very first American divers or live-aboard programs to such well-known places as the Cayman Islands, Belize, The Galapagos, Socorro, Australia’s Coral Sea, Fiji, Jordan, the Sudan, Ethiopia, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Palau, Truk Lagoon and Malpelo, as well as the great white shark and whale shark diving adventures that are now so popular. Many divers have experienced their very first shark encounters on live-aboard programs Carl offered through See & Sea.
After twenty-five years running See & Sea Travel, Inc., Carl retired from diving travel to pursue other photographic subjects, including videography using drones.
During the past several years, Carl has served on the Board of Directors of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame and the Historical Diving Society. Having completed those terms in office, he now has been named to the Historical Diving Society’s Board of Advisors.
Carl was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame on January 25, 2007. On October 23, 2008, Carl was honored by a NOGI Award from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. In August of 2011, The Government of Bonaire in the Caribbean awarded Carl its Lifetime Achievement Award. On March 23, 2013, Carl was named Diver of the Year of the annual Beneath the Sea Show in the Meadowlands just outside New York City.
:: Anatoly M. Sagalevitch Ph.D. - Science - 2002
Professor Anatoly M. Sagalevitch is the head of Deep Manned Submersibles Laboratory of P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences. He was born on September 5 th, 1938 in Chernigov city, Ukraine.
In 1965 he graduated Moscow Institute of radio-electronics in correspondence with the work in the Institute of the Automatization and Telemechanic of Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Beginning from 1965 Anatoly Sagalevitch works in P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS. In 1973 he defended the dissertation of candidate degree.
In 1985 - doctor of Sciences in the field of the use of manned submersibles for complex deep ocean research and underwater technical operations. In 1971-72 and 1974-76 he worked on International Hydrodynamic Co in Vancouver, where the submersibles "Pisces VII" and "Pisces XI" were designed by the order of Russian Academy of Sciences. These submersibles were one of the first real scientific manned vehicles in the World, equipped by modern scientific and navigation equipment.
During 1976-85 Dr. Anatoly Sagalevitch worked as the head of the operations and as the pilot of the "Pisces VII" and "Pisces XI" submersibles. The first in the history deep dives on Baikal lake and to hot brines of Red sea deeps were done in 1977 and 1980 correspondingly. Anatoly is the owner of the world record of the dives in fresh water - 4300 feet (1977, Baikal Lake) and of the record of "Pisces" class submersibles - 2140 meters (1982, Reikjanes ridge).
Anatoly Sagalevitch is one of general designers of deep manned submersibles "MIR-1" and "MIR-2", capable to dive on 6000 meters, which were built in 1987. In December 1987 under his command two deep ocean test dives were provided. The "MIR-1" on 6170 meters and "MIR-2" on 6120 meters made the dives during 36 hours - an other record, which must be included to Guiness book.
During last sixteen years he is permanent head of the expedition and chief-scientist of research vessel "Akademik Mstislav Keldysh" - support ship of the "MIR" submersibles. Under his leading many expeditions in different sites of World Ocean were provided: twenty seven scientific expeditions in hydrothermal fields of Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans; the expeditions to "Titanic" wreck in 1991 (filming with IMAX), 1995 (filming with "Lightstorm entertainment inc."), as well as in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005; to nuclear submarine "KOMSOMOLETS" wreck in Norwegian Sea (1989-1995, 1998 - seven missions); to Japanese submarine wreck "I-52" in 1998 (5400 meters, 14 dives); in 2001, 2002 and 2005 - to battle ship Bismarck (4700 m); in 2000 to nuclear submarine "Kursk" etc. As chief-pilot of the "Pisces" and the "MIR"s submersibles Anatoly Sagalevitch spent over 3000 hours underwater and reached maximum depth 6170 meters. On "Titanic" he made 57 dives.
He has over 250 scientific publications in foreign and Russian editions, including 15 monographies, described technical sides of the design of the submersibles, methods of underwater operations, scientific results etc.
On the basis of deep ocean filming with the "MIR" submersibles on "Titanic" in 1991 and 1995 were produced the films in IMAX format "Titanica" (director Stephen Low), video-film "Treasure of the deep" (director Al Giddings), film "Titanic" (director James Cameron). In 1999 National Geographic Society produced the film about Japanese submarine wreck "I-52". In 2002 and 2003 James Cameron produced the documentaries about Bismarck for Discovery Channel and Ghost of Abyss for IMAX.=, in 2004 - film "Alliens of the deep" about hydrothermal vents on ocean bottom. In 2005 as the pilot he provided the first in the history live broadcast from great depth 3800 m ("Titanic") to the land.
Member of International Academy of the Safety (Russia), Academy of Underwater arts and sciences (USA), National Geographic Society, Marine Technology Society, Explorer Club, honorary member of Adventurer Club. Awarded by Thomas Lowell medal by Explorer Club in 2000 and NOGI Award in nomination "Science" by Academy of underwater arts and sciences in 2002.
In 2005 he was accepted as the first in history honorary member of Deep Submersibles Pilots Assotiation. His Laboratory of deep manned submersibles was awarded by "International compass" in 2003 by Marine Technology Society".
:: Dr. Enric Sala - Environment - 2017
Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence dedicated to restoring the health and productivity of the ocean. His 130 scientific publications are widely recognized and used for real-world conservation efforts such as the creation of marine reserves. Enric is currently working to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, and to develop new business models for marine conservation. He founded and leads National Geographic Pristine Seas, a project that combines exploration, research, and media to inspire country leaders to protect the last wild places in the ocean. To date, Pristine Seas has helped to create 16 of the largest marine reserves on the planet – including the recent marine sanctuary in the Galápagos Islands – covering an area of over 5 million square km.
Enric has received many awards, including 2008 World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader, 2013 Spanish Geographical Society’s Research Award, 2013 Explorers Club’s Lowell Thomas Award, 2013 Environmental Media Association’s Hero Award, and 2016 Russian Geographical Society’s Crystal Compass Award. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Enric serves on the boards of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Global Fishing Watch, and the National Aquarium, and advises international organizations and governments.
:: Frank Scalli - Distinguished Service - 1972
Frank Scalli was one of the founding fathers of sport diving in the eastern United States. He helped establish the YMCA diving program, one of the first diving instructional programs in the nation.
Frank was one of the founders of the Boston Sea Rovers. He was also the only person to serve on the Board of Directors of NAUI, PADI and the YMCA diving programs, all at the same time. Frank was introduced to diving while in the military. While waiting to be discharged, he saw a
lifeguard cleaning the bottom of the pool using a gas mask attached to a hose going up to the surface. He tried the unit that afternoon and said “This is fun.” He purchased a mask, tank and regulator in 1953 and began practicing in the YMCA pool without any instruction. After rupturing both eardrums, he decided to sell the gear, but nobody would buy it, so he practiced some more.
Dave Owen, the chief diver at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution finally taught him how to equalize properly. Frank couldn’t understand why more people didn’t know about the new sport. Owen explaned “It’s not a sport yet.”
In 1954, other YMCA’s were getting requests to try out scuba in their pools, but there were no standards. So Frank made up a list of “What to Do and What Not to Do.” This was soon adopted by the YMCA and began the beginning of their scuba instruction program. He soon began
experimenting with wetsuits, a quick release system for the weight belt and buoyancy devices.
In 1954, there were very few divers in the Boston area. They formed a club and named it the Boston Sea Rovers. It started out with only 7 members. After 2 years, they had 12. They were soon joined by Bob Ballard and Paul Tzimoulis.
The YMCA ran their first national scuba instructor course in 1959. Frank was 1 of 14 participants and the only one from New England. Frank’s assignment was to begin running instructor training courses on the east coast. When Bernie Empleton began writing the first full-scale textbook for the YMCA, he turned to Frank and the Boston Sea Rovers for help. His books The Science of Skin and Scuba Diving and the 1970’s revised edition The New Science of Skin and Scuba Diving became the training manual for the YMCA.
At the request of Jacques Cousteau and Bill Barada, Frank was hired by U.S. Divers to be their east coast promotion director. He started by getting diving programs started at universities such as Harvard, MIT, West Point, Annapolis and several others. Now people were anxious to learn how to scuba dive.
In 1962, Frank transferred to the sales division of U.S. Divers. He served as their national sales director from 1972-1985. Frank Scalli is the man who was instrumental in the growth of scuba diving in the eastern United States.
:: Dee Scarr - Distinguished Service - 2007
No one has guided divers in Bonaire's waters longer than Dee Scarr, who first came to Bonaire in 1980 and began Touch the Sea in 1982. Since then she's logged thousands of dives and introduced hundreds of divers to dozens of marine animals. Most of these individual critters meet divers for years, a testimonial to the gentle nature of the interactions. The impact is great: once introduced to Scarr’s very personal perspective on marine animals, divers feel a sense of belonging in the sea rather than simply visiting. Their instinct to protect marine ecosystems is enhanced. Non-divers also respond enthusiastically to Dee’s critter interactions. Scarr’s current project is her first that is primarily educational rather than hands-on. She created Action in Behalf of Coral in 2005, when she realized that dive training agencies don’t provide critical information about living coral to their students: the information that explains why coral is fragile. Dee’s website, , provides more information about the ABC Project, as well as the Living with a Razor Sharp Skeleton sticker and Coral Glimpses.
Between 1988 and 1991, Scarr and her buddies tied more than 600 sponges back onto pilings beneath Bonaire’s Old Pier (aka North or Town Pier) in Touch the Sea’s Sponge Reattachment Project. In the mid-90’s she surveyed Bonaire’s harbor area (from the marina to the piers), removing recent trash, establishing which areas were being misused, and communicating this information to the Bonaire Marine Park for the education of the misusers. She promotes the carrying of a small net bag she calls a Pocket Cleaner Station, so on the occasions divers see trash, they can bring it up right away rather than waiting for a dedicated cleanup dive.
Scarr has written three books: Touch the Sea, about interactions with marine animals, The Gentle Sea, a personalized look at the undersea creatures divers are likely to encounter, and a children’s book, Coral’s Reef, about two children and what they learn from snorkeling – and from an octopus named Oliver. Dee wrote monthly about marine animals and their behaviors for Dive Training magazine for more than a decade, and currently writes about marine animals for The Bonaire Reporter. Dee was the photographer for the original Guide to the Bonaire Marine Park and contributed to the second edition of the Guide. Her work has appeared in numerous publications.
The first major recognition of Scarr’s work was in 1991, when she was the second recipient (after Jacques Yves Cousteau) of the PADI/SeaSpace Environmental Awareness Award. Her most recent recognition is this 2008 Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences NOGI Award for Distinguished Service. She’s received the Boston Sea Rovers Diver of the Year Award, the Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year Award, and the Underwater Club of Boston’s Paul Revere Spike (2007.)
Dee was an inaugural member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame and SSI’s Platinum Pro Divers (those with more than 5000 dives; Scarr has logged over 7000 dives). She received Captain Don Stewart’s Accolade Award in 2006 for “making knowledge of the sea fun and spreading desire in others to learn and become themselves part of our sea”.
Captain Don’s assessment of Dee’s role is piercingly accurate. By presenting entertaining and very personal tales of the underwater world – such as the time her octopus friend jilted an octopus suitor in favor of Dee’s hand -- Scarr gives people personal reasons to protect the world’s oceans and their inhabitants. Through her, they meet octopuses, flounders, and even blennies as individuals and friends rather than statistics or photo models.
Scarr’s presentations teach about marine animals in an entertaining way. She speaks weekly on Bonaire at Captain Don’s Habitat; she has spoken before dive clubs, dive symposia, and even non-diving audiences – including school groups – in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Curacao, Antigua, etc.
Scarr received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English and Rhetoric and Public Address from the University of Florida. She taught high school English, public speaking, and debate before beginning her diving career on the Bahamian island of San Salvador. Dee became a SCUBA instructor in 1974. In 1985, she married David Batalsky; they adopted Sweetie Pie, a very special Bichon Frise, in 2005.
:: Lee Selisky - Distinguished Service - 2005
Lee Selisky is the Founder and CEO of Sea Pearls, Inc., a major dive industry manufacturer located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Privately held, the company operates from combined manufacturing and distribution facilities near its birthplace in the northwest Minneapolis metro. Sea Pearls, Inc., is known for its manufacture and distribution of scuba diving weights to wholesale customers in the recreational scuba diving industry. The SPI division makes a wide range of custom die-cast lead components for industrial, medical, and military customers.
Selisky is a former Board Member and President of the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) and he is an active voice in the scuba industry. Selisky is an avid boater and diver with a special interest in the shipwrecks of Lake Superior. Lee takes a keen interest in the history of diving equipment, especially that of commercial hardhat equipment.
Lee is the past Chairman of the Historical Diving Society, USA. He also served on the Board of Governors of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in the Cayman Islands. Lee currently serves on the Board of Directors of Divers Alert Network.
:: Harry Shanks - Distinguished Service - 1980
As one of diving's elder statesman, Harry Shanks has devoted more than 44 years to the development of the sport in the United States. His far-reaching vision helped to establish some of the most prominent organizations in diving today and his single-minded determination has made NOGI an international recognized institution.
Harry R. Shanks was born in Chicago, IL attending school in the metro area. He received a BA degree in college and during WW II, he joined the Navy Air Corps ('43-'47) as a pilot. After college and military service, Shanks joined Chicago based Sears Roebuck and Company where he enjoyed a 39 year career. His career in Sears included almost every facet of the company and ended as a Senior Marketing Person.
Shanks began his diving in the 50's in Acapulco, Mexico, while on vacation. In the 60's, he took a 12-week scuba course as a "moss back" and was certified as a YMCA diver. Over the next 10 years, he made almost 1000 dives. He became very active in the Chicago metro area diving community. He served as dive club president for four years and then president of YMCA Metropolitan Council of Scuba Clubs for four years. On the state level, Shanks served for three years as Director of the Illinois Council of Scuba Clubs and nationally 3 years on the Board of Governors of the Underwater Society of America.
As an enthusiastic dive traveler, Shanks toured much of the dive regions of the US and made numerous trips to the Bahamas, Cozumel, Roatan, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Spain and Italy, all during the late 60's and early 70's. He became an early pioneer in dive tourism development, forming his own company, Scuba Consultants Ltd. At one point he owned 50% of a Florida Keys resort.
In 1970, Shanks helped organize Chicago's most prominent Dive Show underwater film festival - Our World Underwater. Staged at the Medinah Temple, the evening show featured the late Phillipe Cousteau. Shanks went on to establish the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society, which is dedicated to assisting bright young college students who expressed a desire to develop a career in the undersea world. Both organizations have gone on to flourish and become major diving events.
In the 1980s, Shanks played a key role in a major diving industry crisis, in which California was proposing legislation for all Divers and Diving Instructors to be licensed. The issue had been prompted by the unfortunate deaths of three divers. The legislation had passed in Los Angeles and was heading for state approval pending an investigation. Shanks was sent for to seek a solution. He set up the California Scuba Advisory Committee and put together a Blue Book of documentation on quality of dive training agencies through CNCA and Bernie Emplteton, the committee Chairman (a NOGI Fellow). As a result of Shanks efforts and his mediations with within the diving industry, the legislation was ultimately overturned.
Of Shanks's many accomplishments during his lengthy diving career, one of most significant is his leadership in the continued success of the NOGI Award, diving's oldest (1960) and best recognized award. In 1967, Shanks took over the NOGI Award Program when its founder and owner, Jay Albanese, passed away. Shanks negotiated with Albaneses heirs to retain the rights to the NOGI and he continued the program. In 1970, Shanks commissioned Skin Diver Magazine to become the NOGI Awards main sponsor, and the magazine funded the annual production of the four statuettes every year thereafter, until it stopped publishing, in 2002.
In 1993, Shanks and early NOGI recipients formed the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (AUAS) to assure the NOGI Awards program would continue with the same quality of its first 33 years. The organization was incorporated and subsequently received a not-for-profit, tax-exempt status. It currently maintains its own web site (auas-nogi.org), and it produces an annual black-tie dinner gala for recognizing the latest NOGI recipients.
In 2005 the AUAS board of directors created the Harry Shanks Award for Leadership in Diving to recognize Shanks's lifelong contribution to the diving industry.
:: Charles W. Shilling, M.D. - Distinguished Service - 1979
Charles Wesley Shilling was born September 21, 1901 in Upland, Indiana on the campus of Taylor University. He received a B.S. degree from Taylor University in 1923 and a B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1923. In 1927 he received his M.D. from the University of Michigan. He met his future wife Miriam Teed while at Taylor University and married her on June 12, 1927.
Dr. Shilling was a leader in the field of undersea diving and hyperbaric research and education. He studied, researched, and published on a variety of topics including submarine and deep sea diving, life in confined spaces, radiation biology, and atmospheric medicine.
His professional career included the following: intern at the Chelsea Naval Hospital and active with the US Navy from 1927 to 1955; Deputy Director, Division of Biology and Medicine, US Atomic Energy Commission from 1955-1960; Director, Biology Science Community Project, George Washington University from 1960-1973. During his career he was a member of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, the American Physiological Society, the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, the Aerospace Medical Association, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was Executive Secretary of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society in 1973.
Among many awards and honors, Dr. Shilling has received the Founders Medal from the Association of Military Surgeons for work in diving medicine (1953); the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan (1959); the Golden Cross of the Order of the Phoenix from the Greek Government for creating a method of radiation sterilization of a fly, a technique which helped save the Greek olive crop (1960); Alumnus of the Year from Taylor University (1960); the Albert Behnke Award from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (1975); the NOGI Award from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (1979); the Chamber of Achievement Award from Taylor University (1980); the Florida Underwater Council Service Award (1980); the Smithsonian Science Information Exchange Award (1980); the Schiffahrtmedizinsches Institut Der Marine Award (1980); and was the first recipient of the C.W. Shilling Award from the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society, which was established in his honor 1982).
In 1954 Dr. Shilling received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Taylor University. He died on December 23, 1994 in Fredericksburg, VA. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Miriam.
:: Gene Shinn - Science - 1984
After 31 years, Gene Shinn retired from the USGS. Gene has been a scientific pioneer in the Survey for as many years but to recap an incredibly productive and inspiring career for the many students that followed him: Gene came to the USGS after a distinguished career at Shell Oil and in 1974 established the Fisher Island Field Station, Miami Beach, Florida. This was tough duty and Gene should have received hazard pay for all of the "Mariolitos" and drug paraphernalia that washed up on the shores of Fisher Island during those years. But these diversions did not stop him from winning a USGS award for developing a hydraulic drilling device and extensively publishing on reef ecosystems and modern and ancient carbonate sediments. In fact, his research on carbonates was groundbreaking as he showed that extensive modern submarine lithification was occurring in the Persian Gulf. His research with others in the Pacific Enewetak Atoll Crater Experiment (PEACE) project in Enewetak, Marshall Islands, helped to determine the size and depth of nuclear craters at the time of the actual explosion. These data were used to affect the military's plan to establish the MX missile plan! Gene was a co-discoverer of modern giant submarine stromatolites (considered to be the first life forms on earth) that are forming in the
Exuma Islands, Bahamas. This was an incredibly exciting discovery that, besides being the cover story of an issue of Science, was the discovery of living fossils thought to have disappeared during the Paleozoic era - the only modern forms known at the time were in very shallow, hypersaline waters in western Australia.
In 1989 when he moved to the Coastal and Marine Geology Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, Gene was working on a project that explored the effects of offshore drilling on ecosystems. A topic that still rages on today and is as timely as it was then. Ever the pioneer in uncovering/exposing environmental issues, Gene also lead a project from 1991-1994 that helped to determine pathways and movement of sewage contaminated groundwater in the Florida coral reef tract. These data have been used widely and are the basis for a number of court cases and environmental hearings. Later, he continued to work on groundwater seepage rates and direction of flow in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys. Recently though, most people recognize Gene for his research and theories on the effects of African Dust on coral reef ecosystems. Again, ever the pioneer, Gene recognized and was the first to lead the Global Dust Group to identify that major dust events coming from Africa contain viable microbes that could potentially be harmful to various species and ecosystems. His research even spawned a fictional novel by Sarah Andrews entitled "Killer Dust"!
Gene's scientific impact spreads far and wide. Amazingly, scientists and lay people alike know him, have seen him on TV, talked to him on the phone, or have e-mailed him. Why? Because Gene has always been the great communicator and has always communicated on all levels. He has been an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer and has received three Best Paper and Outstanding Paper Awards from major journals and national meetings. In 2003, he won the USGS Shoemaker Communication Award in recognition of his communications skills. Gene has lead field courses for geologists since the 1950s. Carefully elucidating how to observe carbonate producing organisms, their accumulated sediments, and their interpretations in ancient rocks, three generations of want-to-be sedimentologists have been tutored by Gene. It is not unusual for students to greet Gene with the admonition that "my father or mother says your field trip in 19xx was the best experience of his/her life." Eugene Shinn's extraordinary contributions to carbonate sedimentology and coral reef ecosystems were recognized in 1991 by the Meritorious Service Award of the Department of Interior, in 1998 by Honorary Membership in the Society for Sedimentary Geology, and in 1998 by an Honorary Doctoral Degree bestowed by the University of South Florida. Although "retired" (not!), Gene remains dedicated to pursuing his scientific interest as a Courtesy Professor at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Sciences.
:: Brian Skerry- Arts - 2019
Brian Skerry is a photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. Since 1998 he has been a contract photographer for National Geographic Magazine and is a Fellow of the National Geographic Society. In 2017 was named the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year.
Brian has produced 25 stories for NGM on a range of subjects, from the harp seal’s struggle to survive in frozen waters to the alarming decrease in the world’s fisheries to dolphin intelligence, all cover stories. His work has also been featured in publications such as Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, BBC Wildlife, Paris Match, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Smithsonian. He is the author of 10 books including the acclaimed monographs Ocean Soul and SHARK.
Brian’s work has been recognized worldwide having received numerous awards including The Peter Benchley Award for Excellence in Media and being an 11-time award winner in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition in London. A frequent lecturer, Brian has presented at venues such as United National General Assembly, World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, TED Talks, The National Press Club in Washington, DC, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Brian is the Explorer-In-Residence and a Trustee at the New England Aquarium, a founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and a Fellow National of The Explorers Club. He is a Marine Fellow with Conservation International and serves on the World Wildlife Fund’s National Council and the WWF’s Marine Leadership Council.
:: Wes Skiles - Arts - 2007
If you had to distill who Wes Skiles is down to one word, the vast majority of the diving community would likely say "Crazy&hellip" Although this reputation may be well earned, it might be more appropriate to say Wes has a passion for exploring and documenting places most of us have no interest in visiting, whatsoever.
A native North Floridian Wes grew up exploring his local springs and cave systems. He became an active SCUBA diver at 13 and was certified as a cave diver at 16. It was also at 16, he would begin cave diving with another cave diving legend, Sheck Exley. Wes's first dive with Sheck was the recovery of 2 open water divers who drowned in Royal Spring. This event would forever influence his life. In 1978 he was certified as a PADI Open Water Instructor. Embracing the term "Open Water" he began to preach to students of the true dangers of the "Overhead Environment." In 1982 he was asked to hold the helm as Training Chairman of the National Speleological Societies, Cave Diving Section (NSSCDS) during the cave diving's most deadly period. Understanding the true problem, that an average of 20 "open water" divers, not "cave divers" were dieing each year, he took a bold approach. In his position he charged the national SCUBA training agencies with the responsibility of training both instructors and students to stay out of "overhead environments", adding wrecks and ice to help broaden the scope. This effort along with his “No Lights Rule”, would ultimately lead to a dramatic decrease in deaths, saving untold numbers of lives. Over the next 35 years he would become known as one of the key architects and premiere divers of cave and technical diving.
By the mid eighties his detailed survey and cartographies of the extensive caves he was exploring in North Florida would shake the very foundation of groundwater sciences. Groundwater protection models at the time, did not account for the voids and passages cave divers were discovering. At that time he confidently claimed that he and his team were exploring what amounted to great “underground rivers”. To prove his claim he decided focus on providing visual proof scientist couldn’t argue with. It would take another twenty years before many of Florida’s leading scientist could validate and embrace his innate understanding of the hydrogeology of Florida’s karst aquifers. To this date Wes serves as one of the State of Florida’s principal advisors for springs and groundwater protection.
Wes was also one of the early pioneers of multiple strobe slave photography, and light painting. In 1987, Wes was a key participant in the Wakulla Springs Project. His responsibilities included research, logistics, lead exploration diver, surveyor, photographer and cameraman of the 300’+ deep cave system. Diving 96/14 Heliox he and diving partners Tom Morris, and Paul Heinerth reached what was at the time, a mind boggling distance of 4200’ penetration at depths averaging 290’. It was at Wakulla Springs that he met Emory Kristof, who would become one his closest partners, and advocates in many future projects. Kristof took note of Wes’s progressive methods of diving and photographic skills and introduced him to the National Geographic family.
Wes has led over dozen major expeditions Worldwide. As leader of a National Geographic expedition to Antarctica, Wes was the first human being to set foot on and film B-15, the largest iceberg in recorded history. He has also set multiple records for times, and distances traveled in underground rivers, and caves. His 700’ deep, eleven hour dive to film six gill sharks inside Phil Nuytten’s, “Newtsuit”, a flying underwater body submarine, remains one of the longest dives of its type ever attempted. Today his name is known internationally for his daring films on exploration and his passion for protecting and educating people about the World’s most valuable resource, water.
Karst Productions, Inc., and Wes Skiles have won dozens of major international film festival awards. His outstanding camera work has garnered him the HDFEST “Deffie” for “Best Cinematography” in HD Documentary two years in a row.
Wes is owner/president of Karst Productions, Inc. and founder/chairman of Karst Environmental Services, Inc. Wes resides in High Springs, Florida with his wife Terri, and their two children Nathan, and Tessa Skiles.
At a recent environmental awards ceremony, noted writer and naturalist Bill Bellville, had this to say about Wes and his work: “The great nature writer Ed Abbey once wrote that: ‘Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul’. I very much believe that’s true---and so, the obvious corollary would be that Wes Skiles must have a very intact and healthy soul. That’s because---as much as anyone I’ve ever met--- Wes stands up for what he believes in."
He not only has a vigorous and ethical conviction in the absolute need to sustain our Floridan aquifer---he’ll go to almost length to take us down there with him--- into the dark limestone cellars that keeps our Florida springs and rivers and faucets flowing.
Wes is a passionate explorer with a deep love and curiosity for the environments he has dedicated his life to filming---from underwater in South Africa to the Antarctic to the Suwannee and St. Johns Rivers.
Like mythologist Joseph Campbell’s “heroic traveler”, Wes doesn’t just go to a dangerous place for the technical achievement of doing so---he returns with something to help us better understand the context of that place, and how it fits into the larger ecology of our world. Wes is the creator, director and chief shooter of the PBS series “Water’s Journey”, and has led over a dozen National Geographic expeditions overseas. Wes was one of the first to explore and map the springs of Florida, and over his lifetime, has documented over 75 miles of unexplored passageways.
Wes has literally, and metaphorically, brought light to the darkness of our underwater cave-spring systems. And, he's done so with great finesse, with great art, and great courage.
Wes Skiles is Executive Producer/Director/Cameraman Owner/President: Karst Productions, Inc.
:: Richard A. Slater, Ph.D. - Science - 1988
Marine Geologist, Submersible Pilot, Deep-Sea Explorer
B.S. Petroleum Geology, Univ. of Oklahoma, 1961
M.S. Marine Geology, Univ. of Southern California, 1964
Ph.D Marine Geology, Univ. of Sydney, Australia, 1969
1963-66 Richfield Oil Geologist, Research Lab, Anaheim, CA.
1966-69 University of Sydney, Australia
1969-70 University of Cape Town, South Africa
1970-73 Chief Scientist and submersible pilot,General Oceanographics, Newport Beach, CA.
1973-80 Assc. Prof. and Department Head, Univ. of Northern Colorado
1980-83 Senior Marine Geologist, McClelland Eng., Ventura, CA.
1983-87 President, Geocubic Inc., Ventura, CA
1987-00 Partner and Submersible Pilot, Delta Oceanographics, Oxnard, CA
1976 Fullbright Scholar to Australia
1988 NOGI award for Science
Over 2,500 Submersible Dives, over 2,500 SCUBA dives Listed in Guiness Book of Records for deepest free-ascent without any equipment 2000 Retired, living in Ventura, California.
:: Marty . Snyderman - Arts - 2018
A widely published still photographer, EMMY Award winning cinematographer and author, Marty Snyderman has worked to conserve and share the magic of the undersea world for more than four decades. A recipient of DEMA’s prestigious Reaching Out Award, Marty is the Marine Life Editor of Dive Training magazine, producing at least three columns in every issue.
In addition, Marty’s still photography has been used by the National Geographic Society, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Skin Diver magazine where he served as the photography columnist, and many major publications, natural history museums, and aquaria.
Marty’s cinematography has been used by National Geographic, Howard Hall Productions, Hardy Jones Productions, the PBS series Nature, BBC, Discovery Channel, Audubon, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, ESPN, and many other networks and series around the world.
With his partner Bob Cranston, Marty helped pioneer shark diving tourism in southern California and Mexico. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. In 2016, Marty and Rick Voight launched Featured-Creatures, an online magazine produced for elementary age kids.
:: Dr. Lee H. Somers, Ph.D. - Sports / Education - 1994
Lee discovered his love of water and knack for teaching while in the Boy Scouts, ultimately becoming an Eagle Scout. After working as a commercial hard-hat diver, Lee earned a Master’s degree in Geology from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Michigan. While a faculty member at the University of Michigan for 30 years, he taught oceanography, scuba diving, and diving technology, while serving as the university’s Diving Safety Officer. He also established a hyperbaric chamber for treatment and research at the University of Michigan. Lee was deeply involved in improving diving safety for recreational divers, public safety search and rescue personnel, and commercial divers. Working with the NOAA-National Sea Grant Program, he gave countless presentations and field demonstrations across the country, and authored dozens of books, papers, and leaflets. In 1972, Lee wrote the Research Diver’s Manual, which has been used worldwide forming the template for many academic diving programs. He was a major contributor to the NOAA Diving Manual, the research text for all working divers and diving scientists. Lee was one of the first YMCA and NAUI scuba instructors and was a founding member of PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). He held important positions during his long career including being a founding member and first president of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, and a founding director and Director Emeritus of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. Lee received many prestigious awards including the Leonard Greenstone Award for Diving Safety, the NOGI Award for Sports/Education, the DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year Award and most recently the 2013 DEMA Reaching Out Award for Education.
Each year, Lee would organize a comprehensive scuba diving leadership program and NAUI Instructor Training Course at the University of Michigan. Lee’s faculty and instructor candidates became outspoken advocates for diver safety and comprehensive diver education and were affectionately known as the “Michigan Mafia”.
Lee’s vast knowledge and experience made diving safer for generations who entered the water for research and recreation.
:: Dr. E. Lee Spence - Science 2012-13
Dr. Spence designed his own dive gear and found his first shipwrecks at age 12. He has discovered and dived on hundreds of shipwrecks. His company, Shipwrecks, Inc., received the first salvage license ever issued by the State of South Carolina. He is a founding benefactor of the Historical Diving Society USA. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Military Museum and the University of South Carolina’s Cardiac Research Institute.
In 1991 and 92 he served as Chief of Underwater Archaeology for Providencia, an archipelago in the Western Caribbean. He is the President of the Sea Research Society and Vice President of the International Diving Institute.
Dr. Spence has discovered numerous historically significant shipwrecks including the wreck of the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship and donated his rights to it to South Carolina. The submarine has been described as the “most important underwater archaeological discovery of the 20th Century”.
Dr. Spence’s work ranges from being a salvage diver to being the underwater archaeologist and project director for the salvage of the freighter Regina, which sank in Lake Huron in 1913. Dr. Spence is the person who initially researched the 1865 wreck of the steamer Republic that was later salvaged under the auspices of Odyssey Marine Exploration. He played a significant role in the historical research that resulted in the ultimate location and recovery of the gold shipped aboard the steamer Central America, which was lost in 1854.
Dr. Spence has served as an editor, publisher, or contributing editor for a dozen nationally distributed magazines relating to diving, shipwrecks and treasure. He has written a number of highly researched, and thoroughly documented books on shipwrecks. He has been written about in the 1979 New York Times book, Treasure: Man’s 25 Greatest Quests for El Dorado and been the subject of numerous articles in periodicals ranging from People to Millionaire Magazine.
Dr. Spence continues to make discoveries on a regular basis.
:: Ed Stetson - Sports/Education - 2011
For over 30 years, Ed Stetson has been training recreational, research and commercial divers. He’s organized several large non-profit events to benefit divers: The Hans and Lotte Hass Underwater Film Festival in Santa Barbara; the annual Historical Diving Society’s Benefit Charters to Guadalupe Island to dive with great white sharks; the Santa Barbara Refresher and Rescue Workshops; the Santa Barbara Underwater Film Festivals and other events. Always an unpaid volunteer, all the proceeds have been donated to the HDS and diving scholarships Ed established: UC Santa Barbara Research Divers, Santa Barbara City College’s Marine Diving Technology Department and the Brooks Institute of Photography’s Undersea Division. Ed Stetson is the man behind the scenes; quietly making things happen, but never looking for recognition.
In 1978, Ed transferred to the University of California, Santa Barbara. He soon became a NAUI, PADI, SSI and CMAS instructor, then a NAUI Instructor Course Director. Ed began teaching scuba at UCSB in 1980 as an undergraduate. In 1983, Ed took a one-year leave of absence and taught scuba for Club Med in Cancun, Mexico. His salary was $100 per week and tipping was not permitted. “You teach people to dive for the love of diving, not for the money.” This philosophy became the foundation of Ed’s future teaching career. He returned to UCSB in 1984, became a United States Coast Guard licensed captain (100-ton master) and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He was soon hired by the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol to operate their rescue and fire boats. Ed has twice been named the California Boating Safety Officer of the Year: 1989 and 2011.
In 1986, Ed also began teaching at Santa Barbara City College’s Marine Diving Technology Department and volunteering with the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center. He has helped MMC director Peter Howorth capture & rescue hundreds of sick and injured sea lions, seals, dolphins and whales. They used their diving skills to create new and unique methods of rescuing marine mammals. Together they have traveled throughout California, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands training researchers and others how to capture and care for distressed marine mammals.
Ed has the unique ability to bring people together. His concept is simple: Get everybody to work together for the good of the diving community. He organized the Santa Barbara Dive Refresher & Rescue Workshops, insisting that nobody be paid, not even himself. In the first year, 57 volunteer instructors trained over 120 divers in one weekend. Ed expanded his efforts and organized the Santa Barbara Underwater Film Festivals. New photographers presented their work alongside the seasoned professionals. Around 800 people attended each show. Ed is currently the director of the Zale Parry Scholarship for the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences.
In 1998, with the help of Leslie Leaney from the Historical Diving Society, Ed organized the Hans and Lotte Hass Underwater Film Festival. Hans Hass had not given a formal presentation in the United States since 1959. Zale Parry and Al Tillman had introduced Hans to America at their Film Festival in Santa Monica. Almost 40 years later, Zale and Al welcomed Hans and Lotte back on stage in Santa Barbara. Ed rented the prestigious Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. Phil Nuytten was the masters of ceremonies and was joined by Sylvia Earle. Howard and Michele Hall presented Stan Waterman; Bev Morgan presented Ernie Brooks; Emory Kristoff presented Al Giddings. Jean-Michel Cousteau could not attend, but he prepared a welcome video that was also shown. Over 1600 people from across the United States and the world attended the event. Stan Waterman wrote “It was the finest tribute occasion that I have ever attended. I expect not to experience another for which so many great names in diving are foregathered.” All the proceeds were donated to the HDS and the diving scholarships. For his efforts, the Historical Diving Society presented Ed with the E.R. Cross Award.
In 2007, Ed began organizing annual benefit charters to dive with great white sharks at Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Each year, Ed charters the 116’ Nautilus Explorer and brings on special guests to benefit the Historical Diving Society. Guests have included Zale Parry, Ernie Brooks, Bev Morgan, Bob Meistrell, Rodney Fox, David Doubilet, Chuck Nicklin, Howard & Michele Hall and Stan Waterman. All the proceeds are donated to the HDS.
Ed has also been organizing dive charters for over 30 years. In 2008, his charter group was aboard the Nautilus Explorer near Socorro Island. They spotted a large commercial fishing boat illegally fishing in the protected area. The decks were covered with shark fins. The Nautilus chased after the vessel as it tried to flee. They eventually persuaded the captain to return to the island. The fishing boat was boarded by the Mexican Navy. Over 7000 pounds of illegally caught sharks & fish and 8 giant mantas were found in the hold. The divers returned to the island and disabled the illegal gill net. The video documentation combined with Ed’s report made it all the way to Felipe Calderon, the President of Mexico. A full investigation was conducted. The vessel was seized and the fisherman imprisoned. The capture quickly spread throughout Mexico and illegal fishing at Socorro was dealt a severe blow.
Ed Stetson is just a diver and claims to be nothing more. He loves creating events that brings divers together. His goal is to keep divers involved in diving, whatever their age or physical ability. Ed’s proudest accomplishment is having helped several hundred new divers find careers in marine related fields across the world. He could never have achieved this without the help & support of so many of his friends, especially his wife Mary and brother Dan.
:: James R. Stewart - Sports/Education - 1969
Jim Stewart was the Scientific Diving Safety Officer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego from 1960 – 1991. He was a renowned diving expert and had been affiliated with Scripps since 1952. As diving officer he managed the nation's oldest and largest nongovernmental research diving program, which became the model for safe and effective conduct of international research diving programs.
Born in 1927, Stewart was a native of San Diego, California and began diving in 1941—before the use of scuba. At the age of 14, he borrowed a friend's dive mask at La Jolla Cove. He put his head under water, started free-diving, and quickly became a very accomplished free-diving spear fisherman in high school. Stewart was drafted in the final year of World War II and went into the Army Air Corps in Nome, Alaska. Upon returning home in 1951, he became a member of the Bottom Scratchers, the world’s oldest free-diving club. Stewart was the youngest member of the exclusive club, which changed the sport of breath-hold diving and revolutionized the use of equipment such as facemasks, fins, and spearfishing guns.
In the early 1950s, Stewart was one of a dozen individuals at Scripps who began developing training procedures and data collecting techniques that would allow scientists to use diving as a means of conducting underwater research. During the early 1960s, he developed the original University Guide for Diving Safety, which created a means for establishing reciprocal research diving programs throughout the University of California system and various state and federal agencies.
In the mid-1950s, Stewart helped to explore and evaluate Pacific atolls that had been the sites of hydrogen bomb tests. Stewart dove the lagoon in Eniwetok just three days after a test firing of a hydrogen bomb. He joined Scripps full time in 1957, and was with Limbaugh and researcher Wheeler North in 1959 when the trio discovered underwater sand falls off Cabo San Lucas. While conducting research diving off Wake Island (North Pacific Ocean) in 1961, Stewart was attacked by a gray reef shark. Hit twice on the right elbow, the bites cut the joint capsule and two arteries. With his diving experience and the aid of friend Ron Church, he was able to escape and avoid further injuries. He was flown to a Hawaiian hospital and eventually made a full recovery.
In 1962, Stewart was a team member of famed Swiss deep diver Hannes Keller’s mixed gas dive to 1,000 feet in a diving bell off Santa Catalina Island. Stewart directed and participated in numerous kelp bed field projects in which he trained staff and students in the art of kelp bed diving, which was a true passion of his.
Since 1967, Stewart was responsible for developing the training protocol and evaluation of all scientists, regardless of nationality, conducting research diving in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans under the auspices of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs, a position he maintained even after his retirement from Scripps. He served as a consultant to NASA, for which he participated in the development of techniques used in the underwater training of astronauts for weightless
In the mid-1990s, he formed a national committee to evaluate the engineering concepts necessary for creating a wet training facility for the international space station.
:: Dr. Gregory Stone - Environment - 2015
Senior Vice President for Marine Conservation and Chief Ocean Scientist at Conservation International explains the current condition of the Earth’s oceans and how the organisation is helping to bring about a more responsible and sustainable relationship between mankind and this vital natural resources.
:: John Stoneman - Arts - 2002
:: Ron Taylor - Sports / Education - 1966
Ron Taylor was born in March 1934 and Valerie in November 1935. They married in December 1963. Ron began his diving in 1952, Valerie a few years later in 1956.
Like most others at the time, Ron was interested in spearfishing and conservation was not an active movement in Australia until the late 1960's. Ron Taylor had another interest, underwater photography.
He spent almost as much time with his cameras as he did with a spear gun. In 1960 Valerie began spear fishing, eventually winning several Australian championships for ladies in both spear fishing and scuba.
Ron's first award for photography came in 1962, from Encyclopedia Britannica, for a news film titled, Playing With Sharks. Ron Taylor's introductory underwater 16mm film, Shark Hunters, was filmed with diving partner Ben Cropp and showed the first underwater scenes of Grey Nurse sharks and a search for a shark repellent. It was an enormous hit.
Ron received the Underwater Society of America award, the NOGI statuette for Education and Sports, in 1966.
In 1965 Ron won the World Spear fishing Championship held in Tahiti, the first and only Australian to do so, it came after winning the Australian championship for four years in succession at a time when competition was keenest.
In 1967 (on the Belgian Expedition) Ron devised an idea of a diver wearing a full length chain-mail suit over a wet suit as possible protection against shark bite. It was more than a decade before the suit was actually made and tested. The result appeared as a National Geographic Magazine cover picture. Although the idea worked well, it was not financially practical, nor necessary, for the average diver.
In 1967 the Taylor's accompanied the Belgian Scientific Expedition to the Great Barrier Reef as advisors and underwater cinematographers, for a period of six months. They worked between Lady Musgrave Island and Lizard Island. It was the first major scientific expedition filming underwater in Australia, and in 35mm. Ron had began filming on this expedition with his own Eclair 16/35 mm movie camera, in a housing he had recently constructed.
In 1969 the Taylors formed their company, Ron Taylor Film Productions Pty Limited. In the same year they co-filmed the feature film, Blue Water, White Death - which was 'an extremely exciting adventure' swimming with hundreds of sharks in bottomless water in the Indian Ocean. Ron and Valerie appeared as themselves being two of the four main characters along with Stan Waterman and Peter Gimbel in this feature length documentary. Filmed in Techniscope which is half-frame 35mm later 'blown-up' to Cinemascope for the release prints. They were responsible for bringing this film crew to South Australia to search and film the great white shark when efforts to find a White shark failed in South African waters and the film was without an ending. They got such an ending in Australia - the film was a hit pre JAWS.
In 1969 Valerie began underwater stills photography. Ron built the underwater housings for her cameras which were, at the time, far in advance of anything available in stores. With her art experience Valerie quickly become one of the world's top female underwater photographers, a position she holds to this day.
During 1970-71, they did the 2nd unit underwater filming and directing for the 39 episode Australian TV series Barrier Reef for the same company with Lee Robinson that had success with "Skippy - The Bush Kangaroo".
In 1972-73 they produced Taylor's Inner Space, a series of 13 TV films, showing their encounters with the marine life of Australia and The Coral Sea. These films were sold throughout the world with considerable success.
Meanwhile Valerie's stills had featured in other leading international book publications, Readers Digest, Stern, Life. Valerie was contracted to shoot stills in the Virgin Islands for Time-Life's American Wilderness series of books, and had a major cover and feature in National Geographic with a Great Barrier Reef story obtained after a year of constant work.
During 1974 with Rodney Fox they successfully did the live shark action underwater sequences in Australia for the first JAWS movie. Ron and Valerie have since done the underwater filming on many features and documentaries, such as "Orca," and The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in, Fiji November 1979. Both the Taylors have won numerous awards for their underwater photography and videography.
In 1979 Ron finally had his idea of a suit of chain mail made in the USA. Valerie had to wear it when it was found the suit was too small for Ron. Another television special features Valerie testing the effectiveness of the suit against shark bite, was titled "Operation Shark Bite."
In 1981 while on a dive trip the Taylor's discovered mining claims on several Coral Sea Islands. They brought this to the attention of the Federal Government and saved these remote bird breeding islands from what would have been disastrous for hundreds of thousands of birds and turtles. Valerie was honored in 1981 by the Underwater Society of America where she received the NOGI award for Arts, and joined Ron as the first husband and wife team to be awarded a NOGI.
1982 saw the release of Wreck of the Yongala, a 47 minute TV film, showcasing what was then the most spectacular of all shipwrecks in shallow water (less than 33 meters deep). The film was instrumental in having the Yongala (and its marine life) made a protected area from fishing.
Also in 1982 the Taylor's lobbied directly and by the media both the Queensland Government and National Parks to make the Potato Cod of Cormorant Pass near Lizard Island known today as The Cod Hole protected. Valerie has been bitten twice and nipped once by sharks, without permanent injury, she considers such encounters as part of the lifestyle. Three times in 30 years is 'not too bad under the circumstances'. Four months of 1982 was spent in the Persian-Arabian Gulf, where the Taylors filmed the underwater scenes for six educational films featuring marine life that existed before it was later largely destroyed in the war. On the 4th October 1986, Valerie was in Holland where she was appointed Rider of the Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. This award was for work in marine conservation.
Later in Sweden she finalized the picture selection for a coffee table book, The Realm of the Shark, a biographical account of their professional lives between the 1950's, until the 1990's. In January 1991, they went to Antarctica. Ron later produced a one hour film In the Footsteps of Mawson. In April that year, they joined Jaws author Peter Benchley, and Stan Waterman, filming once again white Sharks, but in Western Australia. This TV special documented the decline of the species world wide. Twice during 1991, Valerie Taylor was a guest of Jean Michelle Cousteau, first on board their boat Alcyone during the filming of their special on white sharks and later when Valerie swam with spotted dolphins in the wild. The Taylors supplied some of their pictures to help illustrate the Cousteau coffee table book Great White Shark.
In January 1992, they returned to South Africa for filming on the National Geographic Blue Wilderness series. This time they tested an electronic shark repelling barrier, and also inadvertently became the first people to film white pointer sharks underwater without a cage, a necessity when the arranged cage was lost in a storm.Shadow over the Reef, an adventure diving with giant whale Sharks was filmed at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia in 1993. This film was instrumental in preventing the test drilling for oil inside the Ningaloo marine park.
In April 1997 Valerie won the prestigious American Nature Photographer of the year award for her stunning photograph of a whale shark swimming with mouth open alongside her nephew Jono Heighes at Ningaloo Marine Park. The award sponsored by The American Press Club. Valerie, is also an accomplished artist, a talent that set her off on her first career as a comic strip artist with The Silver Jacket.
The Taylor's documentary film, Shark Pod was also completed in 1997, featuring their successfully trials with the electronic device (invented in South Africa by the Natal Sharks Board) against White pointer, Tiger, Great hammerhead and other shark species. The Shark Pod film received The Jury Award at the Antibes Underwater Festival, France, a high honor and judged by their peers.
After over 50 years in the "business," Ron and Valerie's fame keeps rising. The Taylor's latest series of three TV films In the Shadow of the Shark is the story of their diving lives. It has been sold to Channel Seven in Australia and to more than 100 countries. Ron and Valerie have also authored three coffee book tomes, The Underwater World of Ron and Valerie Taylor, The Realm of the Shark, and Blue Wilderness (which won the 1998 Gold Palm Award for images at the 25th World Festival of Underwater pictures in Antibes France) and Valerie has also been working on her second children's book entitled, The Mermaid Who Loved Sharks.
In 1997, Valerie was awarded the American Nature Photographer of Year. The following year, she received the Golden Palm Award at Antibes, France, and in 2000, she became an inaugural Member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Valerie was also honored with two distinguished National titles - the senior Australian Achiever of the year 2002, the country's second highest national award and the Centenary Medal. She was also knighted by Prince Bernhard at the Palace in Holland for her work in the field of conservation. In 2003 Ron became a Member in the Order of Australia.
Valerie and Ron have been honored by the Wild Life Conservation Society of Australia for their work in conservation at a ceremony in Parliament House NSW Valerie Taylor was also made the Patron of the National Parks Association of NSW. Australia.
::Valerie Taylor - Arts - 1980
Valerie Taylor is a pioneer in the history of scuba diving and the underwater environment. She is a renowned marine conservationist, underwater photographer and videographer, scriptwriter and painter. Valerie first ventured underwater in 1956. Four years later, she took up spearfishing and won several Australian championships for both spearfishing and scuba. Valerie and her husband, Ron Taylor, gained fame in the early days of scuba diving for their breathtaking live footage of sharks, particularly Great Whites. In 1969, the Taylor's formed their own production company and Valerie, a stunning blond, was catapulted to international stardom when she appeared in Peter Gimbel's classic feature film, "Blue Water White Death." Since then, she has twice graced the cover of National Geographic Magazine and has been featured in numerous articles and documentary films. During that same year, 1969, Valerie took up underwater photography and quickly became one of the world's top underwater photographers.
During the 1970s Valerie and Ron's live shark sequences appeared in numerous productions, including the movies, "Jaws," "Orca" and "The Blue Lagoon." Both she and Ron have won numerous awards in underwater photography and videography, including the prestigious NOGI (they are the only husband and wife to win NOGI Awards in different categories).
After over 50 years in the "business," Valerie and Ron's fame keeps rising. Valerie and Ron have authored three coffee book tomes, The Underwater World of Ron and Valerie Taylor, The Realm of the Shark, and Blue Wilderness (which won the 1998 Gold Palm Award for images at the 25th World Festival of Underwater pictures in Antibes France) and Valerie has also been working on her second children's book entitled, The Mermaid Who Loved Sharks. In 1997, Valerie was awarded the American Nature Photographer of Year. The following year, she received the Golden Palm Award at Antibes, France, and in 2000, she became an inaugural Member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Valerie was also honored with two distinguished National titles - the senior Australian Achiever of the year 2002, the country's second highest national award and the Centenary Medal. She was also knighted by Prince Bernhard at the Palace in Holland for her work in the field of conservation. Valerie and Ron have also been honored by the Wild Life Conservation Society of Australia for their work in conservation at a ceremony in Parliament House NSW. (see more info about Valerie under "Ron Taylor")
:: Albert Tillman - Distinguished Service - 1964
Al Tillman was a pioneer in scuba training and diving history. He co-founded many recreational scuba programs, wrote many of the early instruction materials was a leader in several of the diving instruction associations for over forty years.
Al Tillman was born in Los Angeles on January 16, 1928. Growing up near Redondo Beach led to his deep interest in the ocean. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard at the end of World War II, where he had the opportunity to dive in the South Pacific. While stationed in Hawaii, Tillman continued his diving and completed classes at the University of Hawaii.
In 1949, Tillman married Ruth McIntyre. Tillman earned a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California (USC) (1950) and played football at USA. Tillman became Director of Sports and Underwater Activities for Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation in 1952.
In 1953, Al Tillman and Bev Morgan (L.A. County Lifeguard) took a special diving course at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA. Tillman and Morgan then returned to their work with L.A. County in 1953 and developed a new program to train diving instructors of the newborn sport of scuba diving. Al Tillman and Bev Morgan developed and launched the first sport scuba diving instruction program in the world through the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation in 1954.
Tillman continued his education and earned a Master of Science Degree in Physical Education from California State University, Los Angeles (1956). He acquired 50 units toward a Doctorate of Philosophy at USC (1957-1964). In addition, he also did graduate work at Loyola Law School. Tillman was a Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies at California State University, Los Angeles from 1956 through 1988.
Tillman became a Professor at California State University, Los Angeles. He created the first university degree program in underwater recreation and leisure studies and wrote the first college text books in this area. Tillman was Faculty Advisor for the first college scuba club at California State University, Los Angeles.
In 1956 Tillman was a Founder of the Underwater Photographic Society (UPS) in Los Angeles. Also in 1956, Tillman co-produced the first public diving instruction film, Introduction To Skin Diving.
During his long, distinguished career. Tillman was an accomplished underwater photographer. He won numerous awards for his underwater photography. In 1957, he co-founded the International Underwater Film Festival with his actress and diving friend, Zale Parry. Tillman and Parry were Producers and Directors of the Film Festival in Santa Monica, CA. Tillman and Zale Parry planned organized and ran the Film Festival for 12 years. Tillman was a Technical Advisor on the classic television series, Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges.
Tillman co-authored with William Starr one of the earliest sport diving books, Underwater Recreation, published by Los Angeles County.
During 1959, Tillman became Contributing Editor for Skin Diver Magazine. Tillman and fellow Skin Diver Contributing Editor Neal Hess began development of a new international sport diving organization. The two visionaries founded the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) in 1960. He directed the first NAUI Instructor Course in Houston, Texas, in 1960. Members of that first NAUI Instructor Course is like reading a who's who of sport diving.
Tillman served as the first NAUI President and Executive Director. He had the distinction of being NAUI Instructor #0001. Tillman was the President of NAUI for five years. He continued to serve on NAUI's Board of Directors for almost a decade and directed NAUI Leadership Courses until the late 1980's.
In 1960, Tillman conducted the first tri-certification instructor class (YMCA/L.A. County/NAUI). He was also a Member of the YMCA National Skin and SCUBA Committee for four years, and Pacific Coast Commissioner. In 1961, he authored the milestone early diving book Underwater Education.
In 1962 Tillman took a sabbatical from teaching at CalState University and moved to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island where he founded and directed the first dive resort, the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO). This was the world's first dedicated diving resort. In 1969 Tillman sold UNEXSO and went back to teaching at California State University, Los Angeles.
In 1998 Tillman wrote and published an autobiography, I Thought I Saw Atlantis, Reminiscences of a Pioneer Skin and Scuba Diver. It is a personal account of recreational diving's formative years. Al and his son, Tom, established the Scuba America Historical Center and Al also traveled and lectured on sport diving history.
Tillman wrote the History of NAUI in 2000, which documents the early diving instruction association.
In January 2001, Al Tillman was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.
Following almost 25 years of research, in 2000 Zale Parry and Al Tillman published the first volume of their long-awaited book, Scuba America, The Human History Of Sport Diving. The two authors and pioneering divers planned four-volumes of Scuba America, which is about the 100 events and 100 great divers who formed the sport of scuba diving.
For his many years of very productive dedication to diving, Al Tillman was recognized with many honors and awards:
the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service (1964)
Honored Photographer from the International Underwater Film Festival (1968)
Reaching Out Award and induction into the DEMA Diving Hall of Fame (1990)
The Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor's Association Outstanding Contribution Award (1994)
NAUI Lifetime Achievement Award (1998)
Induction into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in the Cayman Islands (2001)
:: Ivan Tors - Arts - 1989
Ivan Tors was a writer, director and producer who wrote several plays in his native country of Hungary. He moved to the United States just prior to World War II.
After the war, Tors turned to screenwriting. His first works included Song of Love (1949) and Watch the Birdie (1950). Tors
was fascinated with science fiction films, but wanted to produce films that had more of a storyline. He formed a partnership with actor Richard Carlson, and created films that included Magnetic Monster, (1951), Gog (1954) and Riders to the Stars (1954).
From 1958-61, Tors produced the television series Sea Hunt, staring Lloyd Bridges (1958-61). It proved to be his most successful project. With the 1963 film Flipper, Tors entered into his "smart animal" phase, which included such films as Clarence the Cross Eyed Lion (1965), Namu the Killer
Whale (1966), and the TV weekly series as Flipper (1964-67) and Gentle Ben (1967-69). Tors also set up the 260 acre California wildlife preserve Africa USA. After several other TV pilot films failed, Tors began concentrating on motion picture films that included the 1976 Escape from
:: Bonnie Toth - Distinguished Service - 2017
As a tireless and unpaid volunteer, Bonnie Toth has donated countless hours, working behind the scenes to promote, grow, and raise awareness for several non-profit diving and ocean related organizations: the Women Divers Hall of Fame, the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences, the Historical Diving Society, the Ocean Institute and the Santa Barbara Underwater Film Festival.
As creative director and owner of Bonnie Toth Advertising & Design in San Clemente, CA, Bonnie brings more than 35 years of expertise in creating brand image through graphic design, advertising and promotion. She has helped shape the visual identities of numerous diving industry giants through catalog design, advertising, packaging, manuals, and more. Her creativity and passion for diving has elevated the marketing world with outstanding visual communications.
For the past 10 years, it is Bonnie Toth who has designed and produced the beautiful and stunning 4-color NOGI invitation and program. This is her gift to the divers attending the banquet. As a strong believer and supporter of the AUAS Zale Parry Scholarship, Bonnie designs and prints the annual scholarship certificate. Unbeknownst to most people, each year Bonnie donates the cost of the tuxedo rental (or in the case of a woman recipient, a dollar amount donation to be used towards a dress, shoes, accessories) for the award recipient. Feeling that it is their night to “shine”, it is her small way of being sure the recipient looks and feels spectacular!
Under her leadership and guidance as board of trustees member, two-term chair, two-term president and currently as treasurer of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, the organization and its scholarship and training grant programs have flourished. The awards have grown from 5 awards in 2004 to 42 in 2016, furthering opportunities for women to play a more prominent role in the diving industry. Along with her official WDHOF duties, she continues handling membership communications, web design and upkeep, print and tradeshow booth graphics, scholarship and grant materials, and fundraising items such as the commemorative book, calendar, and cookbook. She also underwrites the advanced dive training grant. All as an unpaid volunteer.
In 2013, Bonnie played a key part in the HDS Santa Barbara Underwater Film Festival honoring Ernie Brooks. She designed and produced the 48 page, 4-color commemorative program for the event, as well as assorted advertising, posters and ads for the program itself. Again, all pro-bono. In 2014, Bonnie was awarded the HDS E.R. Cross Award for Distinguished Service as well as the Beneath The Sea Diver of the Year for Distinguished Service. In 2015, Bonnie joined the staff of the Journal of Diving History as managing editor.
Bonnie has personally, tirelessly and enthusiastically supported the mission of WDHOF, AUAS and HDS for many years. Never looking for fame, glory or money, she is the woman working behind the scenes making things happen! It is her love of the ocean and her genuine concern for the future of our water planet that motivates her passion and drive. Always eager to volunteer, Bonnie is a true leader in the diving industry.
:: E. B. Teddy Tucker, M.B.E. - Distinguished Service - 1991
Tucker is one of the true pioneers of underwater exploration. He is credited with having discovered the single most valuable piece of sunken Spanish treasure in the New World, and, along with his colleagues, for creating the field of study we know today as underwater archeology. In more than six decades at sea, Teddy has discovered well over 100 shipwrecks around Bermuda alone, and he has worked with many of the world's most respected institutions, from the Smithsonian and the National Geographic to aquariums and television networks. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth honored Teddy as a Member of the British Empire.
The life of Teddy Tucker was made into a 52 minute feature documentary entitled, Teddy Tucker: Adventure is My Life. Produced by the New England Aquarium and the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, the film is hosted by Tucker's close friend, author Peter Benchley.
:: Paul J. Tzimoulis - Arts - 1969
Paul J. Tzimoulis was one of the true pioneers in sport diving. He is regarded by many as the founding father of recreational diving in the U.S. as well as a significant influence in international dive travel. His management skills were evident in the 34 years that he was the guiding force in dramatically building the first diving magazine, Skin Diver Magazine. In 1966, at the young age of 29 years old, he was named Editor/Publisher. Since then, he served in various capacities, Editor, Editor-in-Chief, Publisher and Group Vice President.
During his tenure at Skin Diver, Tzimoulis provided the dynamic leadership of development of such industry milestones as the certification card dive travel, dive computers and buoyancy compensators.
Tzimoulis devoted 42 years to the development of dive travel and he helped to create many of today's most popular dive destinations, including: the Bahamas, Bonaire, Roatan, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Truk Lagoon, Palau, Yap and many others.
For many years he guided Skin Diver during its largest growth period, with many publishing innovations and contributions to diving. After a distinguished career with Skin Diver, Tzimoulis retired as Vice President, Executive Publisher and Group Publisher for the Photography/Marine Division of Petersen Magazine Network.
Tzimoulis returned from retirement to become Executive Consultant of Sport Diver Magazine and Online Publisher of the Sport Diver Website.
Tzimoulis was a prolific writer on many other ocean subjects, including marine life, ocean technology, diving equipment, underwater operations and many other aspects of the oceans and lakes of the world.
Paul Tzimoulis has received numerous awards from the diving industry including the Diver Of The Year Award presented by the Boston Sea Rovers (1966); Honored Photographer from the International Underwater Film Festival (1968); the NOGI Award For Sports & Education from the Underwater Society of America (now presented by The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences) (1969); Hall of Fame Undersea Photography Award, Hawaii (1971); Oceanus Award - Our Future In Depths Arts Award (1977); Underwater Photographic Society Outstanding Achievement Award (1978); Sir Turtle Award from the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (1983); Reaching Out Award and induction into the DEMA Hall of Fame (1997); PADI Outstanding Achievement Award (1998); induction into the Cayman Islands International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (2001); Interspace Pacifica; Boston Underwater Club; the Sir Turtle Award of the Cayman Islands; and many others.
In 2002, Tzimoulis was elected Chairman of Board of The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences and he served admirably in that position until his death the following year.
:: Richard Vann, Ph.D - Science - 2014
The diver and scientist Richard Vann’s research on all things decompression explores the limits of the human body at great depths and altitudes. As seemingly measured and extreme as his field of study, Vann—steady, patient, methodical—developed his interest early on in life and has pursued it relentlessly for half a century.
Take, for example, his description of his current research project: “I may have developed an understanding of the decompression problem,” he says, with the balanced nuance of an academic. “It may be possible that some of the more serious cases of decompression sickness that can cause permanent injury can be avoided.”
Vann is, among other things, an assistant professor emeritus at Duke Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. The basis for this latest project first struck him in the late ’70s—back when he was studying DCS as an assistant professor newly minted. “The substantiating evidence seemed too peripheral at the time,” he explains, as if it were yesterday. “Now I have a team of engineers to
do all the heavy lifting.
“I may be wrong, of course,” he adds, keen to neutralize any presumptions. “It’ll probably be several years before I’ll know whether it’s headed in the right direction.”
For Vann, a few years or half a lifetime is not too long to wait for new knowledge about his favorite obsession. He has devoted 50 years to research on DCS and safe pressure exposures at Duke, along with 30 years of service to the Navy (four on active duty, 26 in the reserves) and 20 years with the Divers Alert Network. He’s written half a dozen books, published countless articles and journal papers. He’s received
numerous awards: the 2012 Albert R. Behnke Award from the Undersea ; Hyperbaric Medical Society, Beneath the Sea’s 2007 Diver of the Year for Science, awards from DAN, NASA, the Aerospace Medical Association.
He has held only one private-sector job, his first. And yet it had a defining influence. The son of a pediatrician and an ob-gyn, Vann grew up in New Jersey and joined the work force in 1965 with an entry-level post at Ocean Systems in Tonawanda, New York.
“I have no idea where my interest in DCS and DCS procedures came from, but I vividly remember my time as a ‘diving engineer’ at Ocean Systems,” he says. “I was a research subject on five experimental chamber dives to develop decompression schedules for 40-minute dives to 650 feet. I got bent on three of them while my chamber buddy got bent on the other two. I was on the topside crew that ran 15 to 20 other dives and it seemed that a least one person got bent on every one of them. That convinced me to go back to school to study decompression sickness.”
Vann already held a liberal arts degree from Columbia University, but he returned to study mechanical engineering while still on the job. Working alongside ex-UDT and EOD divers, the Navy SEALs of the day, he developed his other self-professed obsession: rebreathers.
At the time, the Navy was the only place to work with them. As soon as he graduated, Vann enlisted. Military training also exposed him to the science of environmental physiology—how the body adapts to environmental conditions, extreme or otherwise. “I was not a good athlete,” he
says. “I just enjoyed the competition. I was a mediocre athlete who got paid to stay in shape.”
He liked training and he did well by it. His last task while on active duty, in 1971, was commanding a platoon of UDTs to build a base on Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The first step: Blast through the reefs and set up buoys that could guide ships inside the atoll. “It’s embarrassing how bad we were for the environment,” he notes. “But it was fun. These days the approach would probably be different.”
Vann then joined the Naval Reserve, earned a PhD in biomedical engineering at Duke University, and landed his assistant professorship in the anesthesia department at Duke Medical Center, where, since 1981, he has also served as engineering safety officer in the F. G. Hall Laboratory and, since 1985, as chairman of the Operations and Safety Committee in the F. G. Hall Hyperbaric
“I kept on getting paid to work on decompression problems, technical diving, and more rebreathers,” he says. Vann received the Navy Commendation Medal in 1994 and retired from military service in 1997. Meanwhile, he had taken on positions as director of applied research at the F. G. Hall Hyperbaric Center and vice president of research for Durham-based DAN, serving a decade with both. During his tenure at DAN, for which he still consults, he established the DAN Research Summer Internship in 1999. He later served as lead editor of
Rebreather Forum 3 Proceedings.
Published in 2013 with the support of the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences and PADI, the 324-page paper shares the state of the art in and best practices and safety measures for rebreather use in recreational, professional, scientific, media, and military diving. For their
groundbreaking efforts (especially so given RF3 is a free download on the DAN website), Vann and his coeditors received the 2014 Eurotek Media Award.
As for his current DCS research, Vann says he’d like to think it’s his most promising undertaking to date. Of course, he’s quick to counterbalance that enthusiasm. “It’s not a big breakthrough,” he says. “But I’m very excited about it. It’s fun to have this happen toward the end of my career. I’d like to play it out.”
:: Eugene Vezzani, J.D., PH.D. - Science - 1960
Dr. Eugene Vezzani, J.D., PH.D., is a diving pioneer, photographer, author, inventor and a guiding force in diving in the state of Georgia.
In 1949, Eugene Vezzani was in the U.S. Air Force stationed Mentone, France and was a member of the USAF swimming team. Vezzani lent money to a U.S. Naval officer and received collateral in the form of scuba diving equipment, which including a new single stage aqualung. Vezzani could not get the tank filled anywhere and the aqualung brochure was in French. At the beginning of the Korean War, Vezzani, who by then had traveled through 7 countries, stashed the aqualung in a locker at the Westover Field USAF base in California. He started college with the USAF Institute University of Maryland and later attended Columbia University, George Washington University and finally enrolled at the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Georgia, where he later became an Adjunct Professor of Contract Law and Criminal Law.
In 1953, Vezzani joined a skin diving club at the Atlanta YMCA where he met Freddie Lanuoge, who had a duplicate of Vezzani's regulator and the two became lifelong friends. They met Jordan Klein, who operated the largest scuba store in Miami, chartered out his boat and went skin and scuba diving throughout 6 Bahama Islands. Vezzani became hooked on scuba and when he returned home to Georgia, he and friend George Kasle started the first scuba store in Georgia. Vezzani became one of the first scuba instructors and instructor examiners in the state. He and his partners started scuba clubs in 4 adjoining states and then founded the Georgia State Skin Divers Association. Vezzani also started the first Georgia State Marine Rescue and Salvage Patrol. He also leased/purchased a 36 foot sailing ketch captained by Jack Faver and advertised diving trips. In 5 years, they visited 28 islands and nine countries, including a sail through the Panama Canal twice heading for the South Pacific on a 3 and 1/3 month diving trip taking in Tahiti, Samoa, and Pitcairn Island. Vezzani wrote on his favorite subject, diving, for various magazines and periodicals. On one of his expeditions, Vezzani located one of the first confederate submarines at Fort McCalister in Savannah, Georgia.
In 1958, Vezzani, as the leader of the Georgia State Marine Rescue Patrol, was called to assist in recovering the bodies of two U.S. Air Force men from an underwater cave in Morrison Springs, Florida. He and Jack Faver spent hours in the cave at 290 feet, after which they were rushed to the U.S. Naval base in Panama City for decompression. Months afterwards, they learned that their mission at 290 had set a new world depth record.
In the late 1960's Vezzani received a U.S government grant to explore the Orinoco, a tributary of the Amazon River, to study piranha. Thereafter, Vezzani wrote the criteria in Georgia, Florida and the U.S. that prohibits the taking of piranha without a federal permit. Vezzani also brought back to Georgia some 36 pairs of this species for a study that proved that this species could procreate in the warm waters of Florida and Georgia.
In the late 1950s, a diving buddy of Vezzani, Jay Albenese of Louisiana, who conceived the NOGI statuette and the NOGI Award, asked Vezzani to establish the legal criteria and award format to establish these awards for various underwater categories in diving to be awarded by and sanctioned by the Underwater Society of America (USOA). Vezzani completed this task in three days and in 1960, the USOA presented four NOGI Awards in Arts, Science, Sports and Education and Distinguished Service.
In 1993, Vezzani met with Harry Shanks, Mel Lillis, and Carl Hauber about creating an organization to honor outstanding divers of the world, not only USOA. Vezzani coined the name The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (AUAS) and had it legally registered.
:: Hillary Viders - Distinguished Service - 2001
Hillary Viders is an internationally acclaimed speaker, educator and author, with an unusually extensive range of interests and expertise. She has taught Environmental Science at New York University School of Continuing Education, has a Ph.D. in literature, and has written over 500 articles (in 40 magazines and journals), academic papers, books and training materials, such as contributions to the NOAA Manual, focusing on undersea and hyperbaric physiology and medicine, marine science and conservation, dive training and safety, and historic shipwreck exploration. By popular demand, her publications have been translated into French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and Korean. Hillarys lectures, training programs, and published works, including her book Marine Conservation for the 21st Century, have had a profound and global influence on scientists, educators, environmental professionals and the general public.
Hillary Viders is a Founder of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, a Member of the Explorer's Club and the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, a Fellow of the American Society of Oceanographers, a certified scuba instructor, and has been diving coral reefs and historic shipwrecks around the world for 30 years. She is also an EMT, a Member of the Undersea Hyperbaric and Medical Society and the National Association of Diving Medical Technicians and has worked as a hyperbaric chamber technician. Hillary has been the subject of interviews in many publications, including The World and I, National Geographic, USA Today, and BC Magazine. She is listed in Whos Who in Scuba Diving, and was the subject of an ABC Eyewitness News feature story.
In addition to Dr. Viders many dive industry awards, which include a 2001 NOGI Award for Distinguished Service, the 2002 SEASPACE/Project AWARE Environmental Award, two National Association of Instructors Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Diving, the Beneath the Sea Medal of Excellence, the Underwater Society of Americas Diver of the Year Award in 1997, the DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year Award in 1999 (was the first woman to be presented with this award), she was honored by President Clinton and the U.S. Department of the Interior with the prestigious Take Pride In America Award (1993). In 2002, she was cited in Skin Diver Magazine ("Milestones Column") as one of the most influential women in diving.
Hillary Viders was the first Director of Environmental Programs and Projects for the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and is presently an Honorary Member of the PADI Project Aware Board of Governors and a Member of the Board of Directors of C.O.R.A.L. In 1991, she founded NAUIs International Underwater Foundation's flagship program, Environmental Horizons and NAUIs Environmental Awareness Award, and she drafted and co-signed the first cooperative agreement between the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program and the sport diving community. Hillary consults to numerous diving related NGOs, businesses, and government agencies, including CORAL, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Coast Guard, The U.S. Department of Commerce (NOAA), the NAVY SUPSALV, and the FBI.
:: Don Walsh, Ph.D. - Science - 1989
Don Walsh joined the Navy in 1948 as an aircrewman in torpedo bombers. Entering the Naval Academy in 1950, he graduated with the Class of 1954. After two years at sea on a cargo ship in the Amphibious Forces he entered submarine school in 1956. Subsequently he served in the submarines Rasher (SSR-269), Sea Fox (SS-402), Bugara (SS-331), and commanded Bashaw (AGSS-241).
In 1959 Lieutenant Walsh became first Officer-in-Charge of the Bathyscaph Trieste at the Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego. Designated USN Deep Submersible Pilot #1 in 1959, he also became the first submersible pilot in the US. In January 1960, Walsh and Jacques Piccard piloted Trieste to the deepest place in the World Ocean: 35,800 feet. For this achievement, Lieutenant Walsh received a medal from President Eisenhower at ceremonies in the White House.
From 1970-75, Commander Walsh was on duty in Washington DC serving as Special Assistant (Submarines) to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development (ASNR&D) and as Deputy Director of Navy Laboratories. He retired in 1975 to accept a professorship of ocean engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). There he was founding Director of the Institute for Marine and Coastal Studies (IMCS) with rank of dean. He left USC after 8 years to form a consulting practice, International Maritime Incorporated (IMI), a company he runs today.
He was educated at the Naval Academy, Texas A&M University (MS and PhD in oceanography), and San Diego State University (MA in political science). In 1973-74 he spent 14 months as Resident Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian.
Dr. Walsh is author of over 200 ocean-related publications and has given over 1,500 lectures, TV and radio programs in 64 countries. Since graduation from the Naval Academy, his travels have taken him to about 112 nations throughout the world.
For the past four decades, Dr. Walsh has also worked in both Arctic (25 expeditions) and Antarctic (25 expeditions) including the North and South Poles. His first trip to the Arctic was in 1955, the Antarctic in 1971. From November, 2002 - February, 2003 he made a 64 day circumnavigation of the continent in a Russian icebreaker. The "Walsh Spur" (ridge) near Cape Hallett is named for him in recognition of his contributions to the US Antarctic Program.
In 1999, he dove 8,000 feet to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the Azores at the Rainbow Vents hydrothermal vents field. In July 2001, he dove 12,500 feet to the wreck of RMS Titanic. And in July 2002 he dove on the WWII German Battleship Bismarck at 15,500 feet in the Atlantic. In all these operations, he used the Russian Mir submersibles that are rated for 20,000 feet.
Among other awards, in February, 2001 Dr. Walsh was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In March 2001, he was awarded the Explorers Medal by the Explorers Club. Both of these honors recognize his four decades of work in the design, construction and operation of undersea vehicles. In November of the same year the French Jules Verne Aventures organization awarded him its "Etoile Polaire" medal to celebrate "The Greatest Explorations of the 20th Century". In 2001 he was also cited as one of the great explorers in the Life Magazine book, "The Greatest Adventures of All Time".
Don lives on a ranch in rural Oregon with his wife, Joan. When not busy traveling he flies his experimental biplane around the area.
:: Stanton A. Waterman - Arts - 1968
I am an underwater cameraman, producer of films about the world of diving, lecturer and author.
I started diving as a schoolboy in 1935 using a Japanese Ama diver's mask that had been given to me. During WWll I explored the reefs of Panama with fellow divers in my squadron. We only had masks and snorkels. After the war and living by the sea in Maine I acquired what may have been the first AquaLung in the State of Maine. I was a farmer at the time. I used my new equipment to supplement my income by recovering anchors and moorings and lost equipment for yachtsmen.
Inspired by the writings of Hans Hass and Jacques Cousteau I decided to take a chance at earning my living by working in the sea. I loved diving and was strongly drawn to the sea by the sense of adventure and exploration opened up by SCUBA. I built a boat for the purpose of chartering to divers in the Bahamas and moved there in 1954. Establishing the first small live-aboard dive boat in the area. I worked with my boat, "Zingaro", for three seasons establishing a clientele that ultimately employed me to document on films expeditions of their own far afield in the world's oceans.
Those expeditions took me to the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean, The coast of Patagonia (Argentina), up the Amazon and into the Western Pacific. The documentaries created for my expedition hosts in turn provided lecture films. I had as many as 110 lecture dates a year, taking me across the U.S. and Canada, to the Hawaiian Islands and England. In the summers I went on expedition.
All that was before television arrived. 16mm film lectures were the only game in town. Television emancipated me from the itinerate ardor of the lecture circuit. My documentaries were purchased for t.v. travel and adventure series. I was contracted by the major networks to do the underwater shooting for their own productions.
Peter Benchley and I did 12 productions for the ABC American Sportsman Show and then several more for ESPN. With the success of JAWS Peter moved to Princeton. I lived with my family just a few blocks away. That was the genesis of a wonderful, life-long friendship.
There were intervals during which I worked on the feature films: Blue Water, White Death and The Deep. For an entire year, 1965-66, I took my family to French Polynesia to live and dive together around Tahiti and the Outer Islands. My documentary of that year became a National Geographic hour special.
Today I host tours on live-aboard dive boats. I help guests with their video shooting and often produce a documentary about the diving areas frequented by the tours. Half of each year is spent on live-aboard dive boats. The Aggressor Fleet takes me to several Caribbean islands as well as Costa Rica, Micronesia and French Polynesia. I work regularly with the Nai'a in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu. Every year I also book with the Undersea Hunter to Malpelo and Cocos Islands. My own chartered tours have taken me to Indonesia, Malasia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Australia and the Trobriand Islands.
My tours are listed on my website,
All the way back to the early sixties I started showing my films to large audiences of divers at film festivals around the country. If, indeed, I have had any impact on people it has most directly been through my presentations to hundreds of audiences. It is possible that my many articles in dive journals - and especially in the late excellent publication, OCEAN REALM - plus the theater-release film Blue Water, White Death, has helped inspire young people to go into the sea. I have often been told so and am always immensely gratified. In a large perspective this may have benefited our sore- bestead planet by inspiring a generation, both young and adult, to venture into the sea. By doing so they will certainly have experienced the exciting magic and beauty of the marine environment as well as its fragility. That can only help to build a consensus for political impact on conservation for an endangered and vital part of our planet.
This year (2005) a collection of my essays and memoirs, compiled over almost sixty years or writing, was published by New World Publications. The title, Sea Salt. It will not be on the New York Times Internationally Best Seller list, but it is doing well and may even go into a second printing.
Do I Love My Job?
By taking that chance, leaving my farm life and going into the sea,I propelled myself into a lifetime of splendid adventure and activity that still continues today. I made my avocation my vocation. Robert Frost said that, "Only where love and need are one and the work is play for mortal stakes is the deed ever really done for Heaven and the future's sake."
:: J. Morgan Wells Ph.D. - Sports / Education - 1984
From the time he began diving in 1955 to the science diving projects he continued to work on well into his retirement from the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1995, Morgan was a pioneer and leader in every sense of the word. During his career, he was an
aquanaut, engineer, marine biologist, physiologist and professor.
After earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Randolph-Macon College in 1962, Morgan received scientific diving training at the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography (University of California, San Diego). At Scripps, he earned his Ph.D. in physiology/marine biology for his thesis
entitled Pressure and Hemoglobin Oxygenation.
In 1965, he became a U.S. Navy SeaLab II Aquanaut as part of the Navy’s “Man-in- the-Sea” program and received mixed-gas and rebreather training from the U.S. Navy Mine Defense Lab. For more than 23 years, Morgan was employed by NOAA, serving as Science Coordinator for the Manned Undersea Science and Technology Office.
He was appointed director of the NOAA Diving Program in 1978. He began teaching advanced training courses in hyperbaric medicine after
recognizing that most physicians had little or no training in that specialized but critically important area of medicine. In 1989, Morgan achieved the career-long ambition of creating the NOAA Experimental Diving Unit. Working closely with fellow divers and innovators, Dick Rutkowski and Cliff Newell, the three men were instrumental in building the NOAA Diving Program to what it is today.
According to Morgan, “Mother Nature provided the planet Earth with a Nitrox atmosphere known as “air”. She never said it was the best breathing medium for divers.” Because he saw the need for longer bottom time for divers, especially those who were mission or task-oriented, with less decompression time, he went on to develop an EAD (Equivalent Air Depth) formula in 1970 and used this formula, along with the current tables, to develop the nitrox dive standards known as NOAA Nitrox I (1978) and NOAA Nitrox II (1990).
In retirement, Morgan worked with the Undersea Research Foundation, which he co-founded with Jim Devereaux and Charlie Depping. The
Foundation developed BAYLAB, a research facility designed to educate people about the underwater ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, and created the Chesapeake Bay Underwater Video Library. Morgan Wells was recognized for his significant career
contributions to diving by receiving the NOGI Award for Sports/Education in 1984, the Leonard Greenstone Diving Safety Award in 1993 and he was inducte into the NAUI Hall of Honor in 2016.
Other notable awards he received include the U.S. Navy Meritorious Public Service Citation (for actions during SeaLab), the Society of American Military Engineers Colbert Medal (for contributions to contaminated water diving).
:: Ralph White - Arts - 1992
Ralph White enjoys a very distinguished professional career as an award winning cinematographer, a video cameraman and editor with over thirty years of production experience and hundreds of motion picture and television credits. In 1985, White documented the expedition that found the Wreck of the RMS Titanic, and in 1987, and 2000, he co-directed the salvage operation and photography during the recovery of over 5000 artifacts from the Titanics debris field. White was the submersible cameraman for the 1991 IMX feature film Titanica, and in 1995-1996, he was the expedition leader and second unit cameraman for James Camerons Academy Award winning feature film, Titanic. White has made 33 dives to the 12,000fsw deep wreck of the Titanic and has qualified as a copilot of the French Nautile and Russian Mir submersibles.
For more than 25 years, White has served as a contract cameraman for the National Geographic Society, where he helped pioneer the development of advanced remote cameras, 3-D video, HDTV, and deep ocean imaging and lighting systems. He has been to both poles and has photographed a huge array of marine creatures, including the largest ever seen flesh-eating shark, a 30 somniosus pacificus. His film, The Great Whales won the coveted "Emmy" Award for Best Documentary. Whites cinematography has also won the Grenoble Film Festival Gold Medal, the Golden Eagle, the Cindy and the Golden Halo awards.
Ralph White is a highly qualified helicopter and astrovision aerial specialist and a former Member of the United States parachute Team. He co-invented the Bell Camera Helmet that he used in the filming of free fall skydiving sequences for Ivan Tors Ripcord Series. White served in the US Marine Corps as a Force Reconnaissance Team Leader and he is a highly decorated reserve Forces Captain who commanded the elite and award winning Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department Photographic Unit.
White has been awarded the titles of Knight, Order of Saint Lazarus and Knight, Order of Constantine, for his filming and conservation accomplishments. His extensive experience is well recognized by his peers: he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Fellow and Recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Life Achievement from the Explorers Club, a NOGI Fellow, and he is Past President of AUAS and of The Adventurers Club.
:: Birgitte Wilms - Arts - 2003
:: Wyland - Arts - 1998
Renowned marine life artist Wyland changed the way people think about our environment when he started painting life-size whales on the sides of buildings in the 1980s. Wyland always thought big. And he never stopped.
Today, the Wyland name has become synonymous with the new generation of awareness about environmental conservation. Through his unique marine life paintings, sculptures, and photography, Wyland has inspired a generation about the importance of marine life conservation.
His life – like his art – can find him anywhere around the world, at any time, from the Antarctic ice shelf on a photo expedition to document climate change to a grassroots journey down the Mississippi River on a mission of conservation.
The multi-faceted artist, SCUBA diver, educator, and explorer has hosted several television programs, including, “Wyland’s Ocean World” series on the Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet Network, “Wyland: A Brush With Giants” and “Wyland’s Art Studio,” a series for national public television. His mission of engaging people through nature-themed art and a more environmentally friendly lifestyle has led to strategic alliances with such notable organizations as the United States Olympic Team, United Nation Environment Programme, and Walt Disney Studios, to name a few.
Wyland’s 100th and final monumental marine life mural, Hands Across the Oceans, a 24,000- square-foot, half-mile- long series of canvas murals with student artists from 110 countries, was displayed in October 2008 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and honored by the National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. In May 2010, the United Nations released six Wyland images for an international stamp issue celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
Since 1993, the non-profit Wyland Foundation has set the standard for environmental outreach. In partnership with the United States Forest Service and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Wyland is actively engaged in teaching millions of students around theworld to become caring, informed stewards of our ocean, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and wetlands.
The enormous extent of Wyland public artworks (it is estimated that his murals are viewed by more than a billion people every year), his award-winning art galleries, and community service projects have made him one of the most recognized and beloved artists in the nation. He is
considered one of the most influential artists of the 21st Century, with artwork in museums, corporate collections, and private homes in more than one hundred countries.
:: Armand Zigahn - Sports / Education - 2004
Armand "Zig" Zigahn (Sports and Education) is best known to the dive community as the Founder, Trustee, and Executive Director of Beneath the Sea, the largest consumer dive and travel show in America (Beneath the Sea recently celebrated its 29th year in March 2005 when, with the help of 100 volunteers and 30 Managers and Directors and some 10,000 attendees). An enthusiastic scuba diver, Armand Zigahn founded The Scuba Sport Rites Club in 1975. With those members as his working base of volunteers, he then founded Beneath the Sea. Later, with his wife, Joann Zigahn, he co-founded Ocean Pals, the children's environmental education section of Beneath the Sea. The Women Diver's Hall of Fame also began its life as a part of Beneath the Sea with Armand Zigahn as one of its Founders. He is an auxiliary Board Member of The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences and a charter member of DEMA.