Cayman Islands to Honor Legends of Scuba Diving at DEMA 2014

Some of the biggest names in the industry to be on hand in the Cayman pavilion to greet the public and share their love of diving

The Cayman Islands pavilion at the annual Diving Equipment and Marketing Association’s (DEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 19-22, 2014 will be welcoming and honouring dive industry legends who have been inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF), founded in Cayman 14 years ago. Making appearances at the ISDHF show booth will be some of the best-known names in the dive industry worldwide: Leslie Leaney, Carl Roessler, Howard and Michelle Hall, Ron Stevens ‘Rogest’, Wyland, Joann and Armand Zighand, Bob Hollis, David Doubilet, Drew Richardson, Howard Rosenstein and Cayman’s own Ron Kipp and Cathy Church.  Also making appearances will be the 2014 honorees.

To be inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame this year are:

Dan Orr – Most recently the President Emeritus of the Divers Alert Network Foundation and the former CEO, Orr has been involved in the diving industry for more than 40 years. Orr continues to promote dive safety as an author of books and contributor to magazines.

Neal Watson – Watson has enjoyed a varied career in commercial diving, stunt coordination for films and TV, hotel management, and diving franchises. Watson holds several Guinness World Records and has worked to teach several celebrities to dive. He has hand-fed sharks with Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Bill Acker – Acker is the owner of the first dive shop in Yap and has helped make the island a top international dive destination, bringing jobs and prosperity to the local community.

Chuck Nicklin – With an extensive background in underwater photography, Nicklin has had work published in numerous catalogues, magazines, and movies, including ‘The Deep,’ ‘For Your Eyes Only,’ ‘The Abyss’ and ‘Never Say Never Again.’ He’s also been instrumental in building the San Diego dive scene and is a contributor to the international dive community.

Alese and Morton Pechter – Underwater photographers Alese and her late husband Morton Pechter have documented the underwater world for a number of publications. They’ve been active in educating children about the marine environment and advocating for ocean conservation. The Pechters have been honoured by the United Nations Environment Programme and recognized by the US Navy as Honorary Deep Sea Divers.

A set schedule of appearances by dive legends will be released at a later date. The Cayman pavilion will also include an ISDHF photo booth with life-size cutouts of early dive pioneers and a display of historic dive equipment. Because diving is intrinsic to Caymanian culture, the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism founded the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in 2000 to recognize individuals who have contributed to the industry making the sport better for all.

“It is logical that the ISDHOF is established in Cayman as it had the FIRST sport diving facility in the world, Bob Soto’s Diving established in 1957, and then Cayman became the leader in dive destinations in the 1980s,” said Ron Kipp, a pioneer of Cayman’s dive industry and Hall of Fame 2012 inductee. “There is no greater honour than to be recognized by your peers.”

2012 inductee Leslie Leaney says it is vitally important to recognize history-makers now. “Some of the earliest participants are still with us. The first generation from the 1940s is all gone. The second generation from the 1950s to mid-’60s is slowly leaving us. In 50 years, the first five generations of divers who built the sport will all be gone. All that will be left is their history, provided it is accurately recorded now.”

“The history of diving is crucial to the future of diving,” adds Neal Watson. “You learn from history and try not to repeat those mistakes.  And diving is so young, it started in 1953 – from 50 years ago to where it is today – technology and evolution of training now make it possible for almost everyone to dive, and new divers love to hear the stories.”

The DEMA promotion is an extension of “Legends and Lions” a festival showcasing Cayman’s diving scheduled October 4 -11.  Teaming up with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to combine several dive promotions to take advantage of off-season rates, Red Sail Sports, Divetech, Ocean Frontiers and Sunset House are offering value-packed dive deals. Participants will have the chance to dive with 2014’s honorees and mingle with them during the induction dinner that is capping off the week’s activities.

“I have always loved the opportunity to interact with other divers regardless of their level of experience and training,” said Dan Orr being recognized for his contributions to dive safety. “The scuba week is a fantastic way of getting together with others who also love diving and provides a great opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another. I can hardly wait!” 

Leave a Reply