Contributors and pioneers of the scuba industry were honoured Friday night at the annual International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at the Margaritaville Beach Resort.
Previous ISDHF inductee Leslie Leaney emceed the event and Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore gave the keynote address.
The Early Pioneer Award was posthumously awarded to Fenimore Johnson (US). Johnson was the first person to develop a series of underwater camera housings that went into production.
Nakai Conni (Emerging Honouree), Carrie Manfrino, Croy McCoy and Steve Tippetts were the Cayman honourees inducted at the gala.
Manfrino founded the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman in 1998 and developed the organisation with a strong focus on protecting the biodiversity of coral reefs through research, education and conservation. As a professor of oceanography, Carrie has dedicated over 20 years to marine research in the Cayman Islands.
McCoy was born on Cayman Brac and, at 17 years old, moved to Little Cayman, joining his parents and brothers to expand and develop the fishing and diving lodge that his parents had established in 1983. McCoy, who became a divemaster in 1985, has more than four decades of diving experience in the Cayman Islands. Last year, he earned his PhD in ocean sciences at Bangor University in Wales.
Tippetts, a diving professional since 2003, works on the team at Indepth Watersports. He and his wife, Jennifer, spend most of their spare time giving back to the community as active Rotarians with Rotary Central, where they both serve on the board of directors. In 2011, Steve won the prestigious Cayman Islands Tourism Association Stingray Watersports Employee of the Year award.
Conni is a true ambassador of the Cayman Islands. He has snorkelled and dived Grand Cayman waters from a very young age, eventually becoming a divemaster in 2012 and a dive instructor soon after. At only 26 years old, Conni is already a Certified Ocean Yachtmaster boat captain and has navigated boats across the Atlantic and Indian oceans. He is also a certified visual inspector for scuba tanks.
At the same event, Dr. Adel Mohamed Taher (Egypt), Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed (Republic of Maldives), Jonathan Bird (US) and, posthumously, Lee Selisky (US), were honoured as international inductees.
Taher is considered a world expert in hyperbaric medicine. He has been medical director of the Hyperbaric Medical Center at Sharm el Sheikh since 1993 and at Dahab since 2006.
Rasheed, known as Sendi Rasheed, was the first PADI instructor trainer in the Republic of Maldives and a key figure in developing diving tourism there. During his career, which is ongoing, he has certified more than 1,600 divers.
Bird, in 1990, founded Oceanic Research Group, a 501(c)(3) non-profit environmental organisation promoting conservation of the world’s oceans. Working from this non-profit, he created ‘Jonathan Bird’s Blue World’, an educational family-friendly underwater science/adventure series.
Selisky started in his garage with a six-pound lead weight mould and went on to build the Sea Pearls company, a worldwide supplier of diving weights. In 2017, he established the Lee Selisky Future Leaders in the Diving Industry Mentorship Program. His leadership changed the industry and improved the lives of many divers.
“It is an honour every year to recognise 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.