Ceremony to honour Scuba pioneers

What do an award-winning photographic environmentalist, a world authority on the Great White Shark, the pioneer of live-aboard dive trips, an accomplished author of underwater guides and the founder of PADI have in common? They will all be recognised by the prestigious International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame at the sixth annual induction ceremony and dinner on 25 January.

Neville Coleman, Rodney Fox, Carl Roessler, Paul Humann and Ralph Erickson will be honoured for their outstanding contributions to the sport of scuba diving at the induction ceremony and dinner, hosted by the Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford, at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.

Coming from diverse backgrounds and fields, all five inductees possess a track record of offerings to the development, growth and/or promotion of the sport of recreational scuba diving around the world, says a press release. ‘The honour bestowed upon them commemorates the achievements and contributions of the champions of diving.’

In addition to the international inductees, every year the Ministry of Tourism also honours Caymanians, acknowledging their invaluable contribution to the local diving industry. The 2007 local honourees are Cornell Lloyd Anthony Burke and Darvin Ebanks. ‘I want to commend this year’s distinguished honourees for their outstanding work which has earned them the respect and appreciation of the worldwide dive industry. As the word’s premier diving destination, it is most appropriate that the Cayman Islands hosts this auspicious gathering of world renowned talent. It is also appropriate that we take this opportunity to pay homage to those Caymanians who have successfully built our local dive industry,’ said Minister Clifford.

FYI

The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame at the sixth annual induction ceremony and dinner takes place Thursday at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. Cocktails start at 6pm with the dinner and Induction Ceremony at 7pm. For further information and tickets please call Bridgit Amos at the Department of Tourism on 244-1289 or email [email protected].

International inductees

Neville Coleman

Multi-award-winning photographic environmentalist, Neville Coleman has been seriously recording the aquatic wildlife of the Asia/Pacific region since 1963. With over 1000 published articles in over 150 magazines, 100,000 images and 60 marine life natural history books to his credit, he is one of the most accomplished educational authors in the world. Coleman has travelled with, and led, expeditions throughout his native Australia and all over the globe, documenting over 12,000 species of aquatic flora and fauna, and personally discovering over 450 new species of marine life.

Rodney Fox

Film maker and expedition leader, Rodney Fox was attacked by a Great White Shark and badly bitten around the chest and arm in December 1963. The story of his attack and escape has been publicized by many and Fox is regarded as a miracle survivor of one of the world’s worst shark attacks; to this day he has part of a Great White tooth embedded in his wrist. Fox went on to build the first underwater cage to observe the Great White Shark and has led 100 major expeditions to film and study his attacker. Famous film makers for the movies Jaws and Blue Water, White Death, National Geographic specials, ABC’s 20/20, Wide World of Sports and many others have used Rodney to arrange their white shark filming.

Carl Roessler

After 15 years working for blue chip companies, Carl Roessler realised a life-long dream and moved with his wife and children to Curacao and Bonaire to host dive groups organized by See & Sea Travel of San Francisco, the world’s first and largest travel agency devoted exclusively to dive travel. In 1972, Roessler was approached by Dewey Bergman of See & Sea to forsake the Caribbean and travel the world. For the next 25 years – 20 of them as President of See & Sea – Roessler organized permanent dive programmes in over 30 of what are now the world’s best-loved dive destinations, including the Cayman Islands, Galapagos Islands, Australia’s Coral Sea, Fiji, Jordan, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Palau, Truk Lagoon and Malpelo.

Roessler has also amassed an enormous collection of over 300,000 underwater images, with hundreds of his photos and articles appearing in major magazines and textbooks in the US and Europe.

Paul Humann

In the early 1970s, Paul Humann was an attorney with a busy practice in Wichita, Kansas. On his vacations, he acted as a tour escort for diving vacations offered by See & Sea Travel. In 1973, Humann made a call to Dewey Bergman of See & Sea, expressing a vague desire to leave the practice of law and go into the diving business. See & Sea put Humann in touch with the famed Bob Soto in Grand Cayman, where Bob had begun offering diving from an old 80-foot air-sea rescue vessel called M.V. Cayman Diver.

Humann bought the Cayman Diver, remodelled it and captained one-week dive cruises for the rest of the decade. Along the way, Humann revolutionised diving vacations. Living for a week on board the Cayman Diver, See & Sea clients dove all around Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, and packed in more diving (especially night dives) than was standard in the industry. Humann also offered cruises from Cayman to Roatan, crowning adventures in those days for the most adventurous divers.

In 1989, Humann published his first reef guide (to Caribbean reef fishes) and has since gone on to author guides on fish and invertebrates in the Caribbean, Baja, the Galapagos Islands, the northwest coast of the US and the tropical Pacific.

Ralph Erickson

Ralph D. Erickson is co-founder, along with John Cronin, of PADI, the largest dive training and certification organisation in the world. Erickson also wrote the first PADI instructional guidelines with student performance objectives – considered the cornerstone of state-of-the-art diver education today, but new and radical back then – and established the basic course requirements and lecture outlines for 11 PADI Certification Levels — Skin Diver through Master Instructor. Not only had no one done that before, but the structure and flow he developed are the backbone of PADI’s continuing education system to this day. Erickson has written many articles on diving and watersports for trade journals and magazines, and has received many awards and honours for his contributions to scuba diving.

Local inductees

Cornell Lloyd Anthony Burke

Cornell Burke started diving in his late twenties and continued diving for almost 25 years. He was a PADI assistant instructor and was awarded an SSI Platinum Pro5000 card in 1993; Individuals who hold this card can be defined as the world’s most elite water explorers – the list of cardholders is a ‘who’s who’ of diving, containing the world’s most prominent dive leaders, scientists, photographers, manufacturers, retailers and resort operators.

Burke dove with several dive operations on Cayman Brac and became a co-owner of Brac Aquatics. As a pioneer of diving in the Brac he has explored and named more than half of the dive sites on Cayman Brac and many on Little Cayman. He was also involved with sinking two wrecks – the Mariner and the Kissimmee – in Cayman Brac.

Burke was a popular dive master and was well-liked by his regular customers who still stop by to visit and some even ask him to continue to dive with them. He was, and still is, a good ambassador for the Sister Islands, attending many DEMA trade shows and assisting with Nikonos Shootout competitions, visiting handicapped diving groups such as Moray Wheels and helping visiting marine biologists from the University of Maryland with their research.

Burke is married to Avenell and has three children and seven grand children.

Darvin Ebanks

Darvin Ebanks is a well known underwater photographer who started diving in 1976. He was born in George Town and, like many other Caymanian men, went to sea at an early age. Upon his return he worked with CUC, and it was during this time that he became a certified diver, and then an assistant dive master, earning an SSI Platinum Pro5000 card in 1993. He quickly became interested in underwater photography and after a few years started his own photography business that included photographing visiting divers and, most recently, opened a gallery of his photo images. Ebanks’ friendly way quickly made him a favourite with guests and also made him an excellent ambassador for the Cayman Islands.

Ebanks assists many local non-profit organisations, serving on the Trust Council Board for the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. However, Ebanks may be most frequently recognised today as one of Pirates Weeks most famous pirates!

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