Scuba stars shine at Hall of Fame

The International Scuba Diving Hall
of Fame 2010 celebrated its 10th anniversary by inducting several new members
into its fold.

Eugenie Clark is a world-renowned ichthyologist
often called The Shark Lad. In a speech at the event, held at Pedro St. James,
she said that she’d spent a considerable period of time diving in Cayman over
the years.

“I spent more than 30 dives below a
thousand feet down the Cayman wall in what was then called a ‘research submersible’.
We did a whole series of dives to study the Great six-gilled shark and fish
that live in that depth of water.”

Her article, Down the Cayman Wall,
subsequently appeared in National Geographic magazine, she said.

“I have many wonderful and spooky
memories of the Cayman Islands down at a
thousand feet and am very happy to be back here honoured in this way,” added
the 88-year old.

Flaming star

Fellow inductee Nick Icorn is
considered the ‘keeper of the flame’ of diving history due to his extensive
collection of diving gear. He admitted that he was a ‘man of few words’ then
said the appearance at the awards was his second trip to Cayman after having visited
five years previously with his daughter. On that trip he achieved a thousand-foot
wall dive.

“That was exceptional and I’m very
happy to be back again,” he said.

Francis Toribiong of the tiny
Pacific nation of Palau is an instrumental figure in the diving industry both
in his home island and worldwide.

He told the audience of his
experiences in the scuba diving industry over the years and the people who had been
equally instrumental in the success of the island and his famous Fish n Fins
dive shop.

He explained that he had retired
from direct involvement to spend more time with his children. He also said that
he had been unsure that he would be able to attend the ceremony due to serious
ilness only weeks ago but thanked God that he had recovered in time.

“I’d like to thank all the divers
of the world, from New York to South Africa, from California
to Japan and from Granada to Australia who made me who I am
today,” concluded Mr Toirbiong.

Art and science

Wyland, the US Olympic artist, is renowned for
his series of a hundred huge murals worldwide that feature marine life in its
many forms. The ebullient Californian was on typically voluble form in his
induction speech.

“It’s a great honour to be part of
this community and I want to give thanks to Jacques Cousteau who inspired me as
it probably did you too,” he said.

Wyland went on to thank the late
actor Lloyd Bridges who had mentored him in his early years. The artist said
that divers were ‘a little quirky and not perfect’ and that he was looking
forward to meeting more of his peers. He explained that the diving community
had a very strong conservation focus.

“We’re united in protecting the
beauty that we see when we dive these special places like the Cayman Islands…
all pulling together to make sure that we protect this place.

“I think we’ve done so much damage
in the last century that if we don’t create a major sea-change in environmental
awareness we’re going to lose it,” said the artist.

LOCALmuralSTORY

Artist, conservationist and diver Wyland received his induction award from MLA Cline Glidden.
Joe Shooman