Scuba Hall of Fame celebrates ten years

Seven people whose lives and careers have made a major impact on the sport of SCUBA diving were inducted into the International SCUBA Diving Hall of Fame on Saturday 30 January on the grounds of the historic Pedro St James.

The Cayman Islands is home to the ISDHF, celebrating its 10th anniversary, and one of the world’s premier diving destinations due to the clarity of its waters and its diverse ecosystem.

“The awards bestowed on all of these deserving recipients commemorate their many achievements,” said the Hon Cline Glidden, MLA, “and serve as inspiration for future generations of divers.”

The recipients’ awards, designed by local artist Horacio Esteban, were made of Caymanite, mahogany and Cayman limestone.

The 2010 international inductees include Dr Eugenie Clark, a world-renowned ichthyologist and authority on sharks who is popularly known as the “Shark Lady.”

Marine artist Wyland is a leading advocate for marine resource conservation and is an accomplished painter, sculptor, underwater explorer and educator.

He is perhaps best known for his monumental Whaling Wall murals project, a series of lifesize marine life murals in 14 countries on four continents viewed by an estimated one billion people each year.

Nick Icorn has been called the “keeper of the flame “for preserving diving’s illustrious history through his collection of sports diving gear.

He began his recreational diving career in 1950 and was part of the first formal underwater instructor’s course conducted at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 1953.

The Historical Diving Society (HDS) recognized Nick’s contributions by creating the HDS Nick Icorn Diving Heritage Award, which is presented annually.

Francis Toribiong, considered the grandfather of diving in Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, was first influenced by divers who came to Palau to do salvage work after WWII.

During the early 1960’s he helped divers salvage metals and met pioneer divers who came to Palau, including J Y Cousteau aboard the Calypso. After studying anthropology in the United Sates, he became a dive instructor and carried the dive industry in Palau to where it is today. He was also the star of the IMAX film, “The Living Sea”.

This year the Ministry of Tourism also paid tribute to two Caymanians who have contributed to the success of the watersport industry, Patrick Noel Evans and Charles “Captain Chuckie” Ebanks.

Patrick Evans, along with his brother, Atlee, offered visitors a distinctly Caymanian experience, promoting a love of country and a passion for diving.

His brother, who was an instructor for dive pioneer Bob Soto, introduced him to the sport. Now fully retired, he says that he misses the North Wall on Grand Cayman and Bloody Bay, the best diving he has ever seen.

Charles “Captain Chuckie” built his first boat at the age of 14 and has had a passion for boats ever since.

As a young adult he watched as new hotels were being built along Seven Mile Beach and anticipated the need for fishing and snorkeling expeditions for visitors and has run a successful fishing and snorkeling charter business for more than two decades in his 40-foot “Black Princess.” Captain Chuckie is on the ISDHF board and marine conservation board, is president of the National Water Sports Association, and has held the position of fisheries officer.

Ron and Valerie Taylor have received many awards and accolades for their lifetime of underwater work.

They were inducted into the ISDHF in 2000 and were finally present to receive their award.

They have filmed live shark sequences as well as underwater action footage in film and TV productions including “Jaws”, the “Wild, Wild World of Animals” TV Series, “Orca” and “The Blue Lagoon”.