EDITORIAL – Now let us praise our scuba Hall of Fame inductees

We congratulate this year’s inductees to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, who were selected for their contributions to the global industry that Cayman was instrumental in creating. They will be honored at a gala dinner and induction ceremony Friday evening at the Marriott Beach Resort.

As the birthplace of recreational scuba diving, and home to many of the world’s most outstanding dive sites, it is appropriate that our islands recognize and honor excellence and advances in the sport. The names and accomplishments of this year’s local inductees will be well known to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with Cayman’s diving community. They are:

  • Wayne Hasson, who brought luxury liveaboard dive tourism to our islands when he founded the Aggressor Fleet more than three decades ago and helped install the first permanent moorings in Cayman. Mr. Hasson has used his considerable influence to advocate for the sport and hopes to inspire a new generation of divers through his marine science, diving and awareness program, Oceans for Youth.
  • The late Dan Tibbetts, who developed the Little Cayman Beach Resort in 1993, launched Reef Divers on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac and expanded Bob Soto’s Diving during the brief time he owned it before the fleet was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan.
  • Lifelong Bracker and dive master Darryl Bud Walton Jr., who has been an avid diver since high school and a well-loved fixture in the Sister Islands’ dive industry for years.

When the trio are recognized at Friday’s gala, they will share the stage with some of scuba’s all-stars from around the world – those who have made significant contributions to the development, promotion and positive impact of scuba diving. They include:

Photographer Stephen Frink, whose powerful images have captured the rare beauty of the world’s underwater lives and landscapes. His work with the Coral Reef Restoration Foundation and efforts to educate decision-makers about reef systems have helped protect them.

Dick Rutkowski, former deputy diving coordinator and director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has helped sport divers extend dive lengths through the use of nitrox and has helped standardize and expand hyperbaric chamber training to prevent or treat decompression sickness.

Dr. H.S. Batuna, who is being honored posthumously, spent decades developing a recreational diving operation and resort in Indonesia, inspiring others to follow his lead.

Wulf H. Koehler has used his many talents as a scientist, engineer, inventor, dive instructor, pilot, photographer, journalist and writer to design and improve dive-related equipment and educate divers and underwater photographers.

Boris Porotov taught himself to dive in Russia in 1960, then taught others what he’d learned. He is the founder and chairman of one of Russia’s first scuba diving clubs and created the Monofin.

Early pioneer and posthumous recipient Captain Philippe Tailliez – with Jacques Yves Cousteau and Frederic Dumas as “Les Mousquemers” (the Three Musketeers of the Sea) – helped build a foundation for recreational diving and continued contributing to the industry until his death at age 97.

For those who are not divers, it can be easy to forget the marvels that lie beneath Cayman’s turquoise waters, and the dive industry’s pivotal role in bringing them into view. But Cayman’s status as a world-class tourism destination is tightly entwined with (and it is arguable, historically predicated upon) its reputation for world-class diving opportunities.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.