Dive stars honoured

The dive industry celebrated under the stars at a glitzy ceremony at Pedro St. James for the 2009 International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The celebration, held on Thursday, 29 January, saw the new inductees or their representatives and two local honourees take the limelight.

Prominent figures in the dive and tourism industry mingled with the honourees and their families who had travelled from far and wide for the honour of the evening.

‘The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame was founded in 2000 with the aim to establish a link between the Cayman Islands and the dedicated enthusiasts who have made great contributions to the industry,’ said Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford.

The ISDHF invites scuba enthusiasts from around the world to come to Cayman to celebrate and honour the men and woman who have helped shape the global dive industry.

The 2009 inductees into the ISDHF were:

Geri Murphy – a talented underwater photo-journalist who once doubled as an underwater stunt woman;

Howard Rosenstein – an archaeologist and dive business innovator who has spent much of his career exploring the Red Sea;

The late Larry Smith – the world’s greatest dive master;

The late Kimiuo Aisek – the patriarch of the Truk diving industry.

Also a new early pioneer category saw the honour go to George and J. Earnest Williamson, who, in the early part of the last century, shot the first ever underwater motion picture while diving near Nassau, Bahamas.

In addition to the international inductees, the Ministry of Tourism paid tribute to Caymanians who have supported the development of the local dive industry.

The two local honourees are Caymanian Ollen Miller, who has been diving since the age of 13 and who established a more personalised one-on-one dive shop known as Sundivers, and Stuart Freeman, who set up Eden Rock Diving Centre and has devoted 40 years to the sea and watersports industry.

‘To Mr. Freeman and Mr. Miller, it is with certainty that I say that your shared dedication to this country and to diving has supported the local industry’s growth and for that, I thank you for having the passion and foresight,’ Mr. Clifford told them.

Giving an update on the work of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Mr. Clifford said the goal is to secure a physical site where the inductees can be honoured year-round in a fitting and suitable location.

‘While we continue to work on making this vision reality, the Board has been busy building the virtual museum and I am delighted to announce that we also now have a travelling booth.’

The booth is travelling the dive trade show circuit such as the DEMA show, sharing the collection of ISDHF with many.

‘The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame today has a collection of several publications illustrating the diving equipment, as well as the cameras and photography that have influenced divers from around the world. Some of these were ground-breaking firsts, others were hand-made from what indigenous people could put together to indulge their passion to take pictures underwater. We offer them as a tribute to the pioneers who invented, manufactured and used them,’ said Mr. Clifford.

Next year marks the Hall of Fame’s 10th anniversary and there are big plans afoot to usher in the milestone, Mr. Clifford added.

The inductee and local honouree awards were made from Caymanite, mahogany and Cayman limestone and designed and created by local artist Horacio Esteban.

The Board of Directors of the ISDHF consist of: Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford; Captain Charles ‘Chuckie’ Ebanks, President Cayman National Watersports Association; Rod McDowall, Past President Cayman Islands Tourism Association; Leslie Leaney, Past President Historical Diving Society USA; Tom Ingram, Executive Director, DEMA; Al Hornsby, President DEMA; Carl Roessler, See & Sea Travel Services; Ty Sawyer, Editor-in-Chief, Sport Diver Magazine.