The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame recognised four extraordinary individuals for their outstanding contributions to the sport of scuba diving at the fifth annual Dinner and Induction Ceremony, held earlier this month. Awards for the Inductees and local Ministry of Tourism Honourees were presented by the Hon. Charles E. Clifford, JP, Minister for Tourism, Environment, Investment & Commerce.
During his speech, the Honourable Minister praised the Inductees as dedicated and professional individuals who have taken their love for the sport and applied it through various disciplines to promote awareness, increase safety, and establish a foundation for the development of diving.
International Inductees for 2005 are: Ernest Brooks, II; Andreas B. Rechnitzer, Ph.D.; Dewey Bergman; and Captain Donald Stewart. Against a spectacular underwater seascape created by local event company Celebrations, all Inductees and their families appeared overwhelmed by the accolade, in particular Martin Rechnitzer and Andrea Fry, son and daughter of Dr. Andreas Rechnitzer who passed away unexpectedly just over a month ago. Captain Don Stewart also read a moving message from the Governor of Bonaire congratulating the Cayman Islands on its miraculous recovery from Hurricane Ivan.
In recognizing the local honourees, Mr. Clifford said: "The diving industry today is a global one. One has only to visit DEMA to see how far reaching the sport is. And for us, here in the Cayman Islands, there are a number of professionals who have done as much for diving in the Cayman Islands, as our Hall of Fame Inductees have done for diving globally.
"These are people who have spent much of their lives establishing sport diving as a major tourism attraction here at home and I am delighted to be the first person to officially congratulate both the world-renowned 2005 Inductees and the Caymanian pioneers who are the recipients of this year's Local Honours Awards."
Ernest Brooks, II - Ernest Brooks has been a major contributor to photography instruction and underwater photography. He is a noted photographer, educator and ambassador for the diving industry and has won international acclaim for his underwater photography and audio visual presentations; his personal photo skills are considered outstanding. Brooks became President of the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California in 1971; Ernest Brooks Sr. founded the Institute in 1945. Under his legendary leadership, the Brooks Institute is now recognized as having one of the most extensive underwater photography programmes in the world, as well as being a major research and testing centre for underwater photography.
Andreas B. Rechnitzer, Ph.D. - Andreas Rechnitzer was one of the true pioneers of diving and ocean science. He has given over 50 years of dedicated service to undersea vehicles, diving, ocean technology and ocean sciences. Rechnitzer began diving in 1942 as a free diver and, together with Limbaugh, pioneered the use of scuba diving in ocean science while a doctorate candidate at Scripps. In 1951 Rechnitzer co-authored with Limbaugh the first civilian scuba training curriculum and safety rules, Diving Training and Field Procedures Syllabus. This was the very first scientific diving manual, later to be used as the basis for training diving instructors for the huge sport diving community. Andreas Rechnitzer passed away on August 22, 2005.
Dewey Bergman - Another true pioneer, Dewey Bergman led the way in researching, planning, organizing and operating top quality diving tours. As an underwater photographer, he has participated in diving and scientific expeditions to Tahiti, Europe, South America, Mexico, the Bahamas, Africa and Belize. Combining his diving background with over 25 years experience as owner of several successful travel agencies, Bergman created See & Sea, Inc. in San Francisco in 1965. He became President and rapidly built a reputation for top quality diving tours. Every new location selected as a possible dive destination by See & Sea is thoroughly investigated and researched prior to adding it to the list of dive tours. The high standards of See & Sea set the standards for dive travel operators. Dewey Bergman passed away in 1993.
Don Stewart - Captain Don Stewart is nominated for his founding of dive tourism in Bonaire; the Council of Underwater Resort Operators; and Capt. Don's dedicated diving resort. He has spent the greater part of his life in Bonaire taking visitors diving and successfully campaigning to protect the natural underwater wonders. Among his many accomplishments, Capt. Don led the campaign to ban spear fishing in Bonaire; instituted the first permanent mooring system which eliminated the need for boats to drop an anchor, and eventually led to the Bonaire Marine Park; founded the Council of Underwater Operators; and implemented a mandatory orientation dive for all people diving on Bonaire.
Ministry of Tourism awardees for their contribution to the local diving industry included:
Peter Milburn - Peter Milburn started diving in 1969, working for Bob Sotos Diving, Surfside and Spanish Bay Reef Resort before starting his own business in 1978, "Peter Milburn's Dive Cayman" which he operates to this day. Milburn has made more than 26,000 SCUBA dives and still personally dives with his customers. Milburn arrived in Cayman in 1965 and has been active in the tourism industry ever since. He was the very first Caymanian Olympian (sailing), is Chairman of the Red Cross, past president of the Cayman Islands Watersports Association and is active with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
Tom Hubbell - Captain Tom Hubbell is generally considered to be one of the very first to scuba dive in the Cayman Islands; in 1961, there were four people on Grand Cayman who would take individuals diving or snorkeling: Bob Soto (George Town), Tom Hubbell (Beach Club), Frank Roulstone (Sea View Hotel), and Capt. Ertis (North Sound). Capt. Hubbell's boat was a 40-foot catamaran with an 8-foot beam, thatch roof, glass bottom, dual rudders and powered by a 40 hp. Scott outboard, and the price of a trip was $3.00 per person for a half-day.
The Diving Hall of Fame Board of Directors oversees the Diving Hall of Fame project. These Board Members are comprised of internationally recognized individuals that have contributed to the sport and are actively involved in the scuba diving industry, and individual leaders of the local community. They consist of:
Hon. Charles E. Clifford, JP - Chairman, Minister of Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce
Captain Charles "Chuckie" Ebanks - President, Cayman National Watersports Association
Leslie Leaney - President, Historical Diving Society
Rodney McDowall - Past-President, Cayman Islands Tourism Association
Tom Ingram - Executive Director of DEMA
Al Hornsby - President of DEMA
Carl Roessler - See & Sea Travel Services
Ty Sawyer - Editor Sport Diver magazine