Three of Cayman’s dive industry pioneers and innovators will be inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame this year.
Divetech’s Nancy Easterbrook, Little Cayman’s Pirates Point’s Gladys Howard and the late Dr. James (Jim) Polson, who set up the first hyperbaric chamber for divers in Cayman, are being honored.
Since she arrived in Grand Cayman two decades ago, Ms. Easterbrook has made numerous notable contributions to the local diving industry. The technical diving pioneer has authored free-diving training manuals and founded “Inner Space,” an annual family reunion of sorts for divers from all over the world. She was also instrumental in bringing the USS Kittiwake to Cayman and turning it into an artificial reef – and one of the most popular diving sites in Grand Cayman.
Ms. Easterbrook said she never expected to be included among the legends who have been inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, so when she was told that she had been selected as one of three local honorees this year, she said she was humbled.
“I can’t believe it could be me,” she said. “To be included with the people who are really the ‘who’s who’ in the diving industry over the last decades and decades – it’s a little overwhelming to say the least.”
Also officially joining international diving’s “who’s who” list this year will be Ms. Howard, owner of Pirate’s Point Resort, considered by many travelers to be an eclectic hidden gem and highly regarded by travel guides. According to Fodor’s, visitors to the resort are likely to “become fast friends” with Ms. Howard, who is described as “effervescent.”
Ms. Howard has also been recognized for numerous contributions to sustainable tourism and environmental causes. She has been active in the fight against lionfish, an invasive species that devours juvenile fish on local reefs. Ms. Howard has donated her resort’s dive boat for the past several years to a weekly lionfish cull.
Rounding out this year’s list of local honorees is the late Dr. Polson, who helped set up the first hyperbaric chamber on Grand Cayman in 1971. The chamber provides essential medical care to divers affected by decompression sickness.
For this contribution, the first purposely sunk vessel in the Cayman Islands was named after him. In 1981, a Japanese cable-laying ship called the Old Anchor was sunk to create an artificial reef. Located off West Bay Dock, the site was named “Doc Polson’s Wreck.”
Ms. Easterbrook, Ms. Howard and Dr. Polson will be recognized at the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame’s annual induction dinner in October.
The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame was created in 2000 to honor individuals who have contributed to various aspects of the sport, including science, medical research, equipment development, and art, among others.
This year’s international inductees are Bill High, Dr. Albert José Jones, Peter Hughes, Wally Muller and Dimitri Rebikoff. Previous honorees from Cayman include Stingray City pioneer Captain Marvin Ebanks and dive operators Don Foster and Stuart Freeman.
Tourism director Rosa Harris said in a press release that the individuals selected to be local honorees this year “have devoted much of their lives to the diving industry in the Cayman Islands and to ensuring that our magnificent underwater environment is accessible to ever increasing numbers of avid water sports and dive enthusiasts.”
“Their respective contributions have solidified that the Cayman Islands retain its reputation as one of the best diving locations in the world and for their efforts the destination is extremely grateful,” Ms. Harris said. The annual awards ceremony is held in the Cayman Islands.
To be included with the people who are really the ‘who’s who’ in the diving industry over the last decades and decades – it’s a little overwhelming to say the least.