Scuba Diving Hall of Fame local inductees announced

Wayne Hasson, Daniel Tibbetts and Darryl Bud Walton Jr. will be inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame at its annual gala in the Cayman Islands Friday at the Marriott Beach Resort.

All three have close connections to the Cayman Islands. Mr. Hasson founded the Aggressor fleet while working in the Cayman Islands in the 1980s; the late Mr. Tibbetts, son of Linton and Polly Tibbetts, set up the Little Cayman Beach Resort; and Mr. Walton, known as “BJ,” is the only locally born Caymanian – he was born on Cayman Brac – working in the dive industry on the Sister Islands.

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At Friday’s gala, international inductees will also be honored. These include Stephen Frink, Dick Rutkowski, Dr. H.S. Batuna, Wulf H. Koehler and Boris Porotov, along with Early Pioneer Award honoree Captain Philippe Tailliez.

“It is an honor every year to recognize the work of individuals who have had a tremendous positive impact on our local dive industry and by extension, placed the Cayman Islands at the forefront of diving globally,” said Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell in a press release that announced the inductions of the local contingent.

Referring to 30-year-old Mr. Walton, Mr. Kirkconnell said, “This year I am particularly proud that a young Caymanian will be inducted as the first emerging honoree. I trust that this recognition will encourage more young people to join the sport and benefit from the wealth of experience available through local pioneers and prior honorees.”

Wayne Hasson

Mr. Hasson, who founded the Aggressor Fleet, has been an avid diver since 1967. He began his love affair with the sea during an eight-year stint in the Marines, where he certified scores of his fellow warriors and their family members. According to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, after departing the Marine Corps in 1978, “he immediately began to furrow a deep trough in the dive world. Among his myriad accomplishments, Mr. Hasson founded Aggressor Fleet in 1984 and captained the first Cayman Aggressor. His approach to the luxury live-aboard concept has literally changed the way we explore the world. Today there are 12 Aggressor-franchised live-aboards.”

While in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Hasson helped install the first 112 permanent moorings and took the concept and idea to Belize, Turks and Caicos, the Bay Islands, Kona and Truk. He also invented SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) and his award-winning photography has been featured in publications worldwide.

“He has been a major voice and influence in the world of diving for over 40 years, accumulating more than 10,000 dives along the way, and he still spends several hundred hours a year underwater. When not diving, he’s one of the world’s greatest advocates and most vigorous promoters of scuba diving as the ultimate activity and lifestyle. Most recently, he has put together a program of marine science, diving and awareness, called Oceans for Youth, to inspire the next generation of divers,” the biographical notes on Mr. Hasson, issued by the hall of fame organizers, state.

Daniel Tibbetts

Mr. Tibbetts, son of the late Linton and Polly Tibbetts, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, but cherished his Caymanian heritage from an early age and when he was not living in the islands, he visited often. He attended Stetson University where he studied business and then went to work at his father’s lumber company, Cox Lumber. In the early 1990s, he began focusing his efforts on developing a dive resort in Little Cayman.

Mr. Tibbetts completed the Little Cayman Beach Resort in 1993 and launched Reef Divers, a valet dive operation on both Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Over the course of his career, he also built the Conch Club Condominiums and The Club Condominiums in Little Cayman, Lakeshore Villas in Grand Cayman and numerous other building projects on all three islands.

He acquired Bob Soto’s Diving in the early 2000s and expanded the operation, but the fleet was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and he decided to refocus his efforts in the Sister Islands.

Mr. Tibbetts passed away at the age of 52 in 2006. He was survived by his children, Michael Tibbetts, Emily Tibbetts-Allenbach and Jessica Tibbetts-Buchanan, who have continued their father’s legacy by expanding resort operations across all three Islands.

Darryl Bud Walton Jr.

Darryl Bud Walton Jr., was born at Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac on Dec. 7, 1987. He completed his primary education at Spot Bay Primary School and secondary education at Layman E. Scott Snr. High School (formerly known as Cayman Brac High School). During high school, he fell in love with the water sports option available through the school’s vocational program. He used the opportunity to become certified and went on to gain employment at Divi Tiara Beach Resort, climbing to the qualification of divemaster.

Mr. Walton worked at the Divi Tiara Beach Resort from 2003 to 2006 until its closure, and was then hired by Reef Divers where he is currently employed. As well as diving, he repairs dive moorings and dive boats, assists with lionfish culls, participates in turtle releases, annual turtle sea swims and various community events. He is certified by PADI and has passed several dive courses offered through his work.

He has been honored twice during the Heroes Day celebrations.

Lee Selisky

Earlier this week, the Board of Directors of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame also announced the first of the Class of 2019 inductees – Lee Selisky.

In the announcement statement, Tourism Minister Kirkconnell described Mr. Selisky as the founder of the Sea Pearls Company, a former president of the Dive Equipment Manufacturing Association (DEMA) and a founding director of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.

“Lee has embodied his motto of leading by example with everything in his life, work, career and truly exemplifies the passion of ‘giving back.’”

The rest of the 2019 class of inductees will be announced at the DEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada later this year.

Hosted annually in the Cayman Islands, the gala dinner and induction ceremony are open to the public and all are encouraged to support the global and local dive community by attending. Tickets are CI$75 per person and are available from the Department of Tourism. To learn more about the 2018 inductees and local honorees, visit www.isdhf.ky.