The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame in the Cayman Islands is proud to honour its 2014 inductees:
Bill Acker literally started diving on the island of Yap and turned it into a worldwide international diving sensation. His impact on the local economy has brought jobs and prosperity to those living there. Promoting diving and tourism this entrepreneur has helped grow diving and the diving lifestyle for all.
Bill Acker is the owner of Yap Divers and Manta Ray Bay Hotel, in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Bill first came to this paradise in 1976 from Austin, Texas, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He moved to Hawaii after spending two years on Yap, but returned at the behest of friends and family in Yap, staying for 13 years while running the WAAB transportation Company and along the way, learning to dive.
Like so many of us in the diving industry, Bill turned his hobby into a career, opening Yap Divers, Yap’s first dive store, conceived in the fall of 1985 and opened by summer of 1986.
With guidance from the late Paul Tzimoulis, (Inductee into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame), Bill developed dives with manta rays, turning Yap into one of the top international dive tourist destinations. His dedication to this sport and to the lifestyle it inspires can be seen in his constant attention to detail and his presence at the operations 7 days a week. There, he is ready to help with diving, photography, fishing or just relaxing on the back deck. As a family owned and operated dive resort, you can be sure that your satisfaction is taken very seriously and that the "boss" is around to help you in the event assistance is required.
One of the most important results of Bill Acker’s activities has been the effect he and Yap Divers/Manta Ray Bay Hotel have had on the local economy. Not only have the local people benefitted from the revenues of Manta Ray Bay, but Yap’s growing reputation has attracted all kinds of development into what is still a rather small community.
Dan Orr is responsible for promoting diving safety, volunteerism and service to the diving industry, and invaluable service to the university diving community.
Dan Orr, most recently the President Emeritus of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) Foundation and formerly the CEO of DAN, has been involved in the diving industry for more than 40 years.
In the early 1980s Dan became involved with the newly-formed Divers Alert Network, ads a Regional Volunteer Coordinator and Instructor. In 1988 Florida State University in Tallahassee recruited Dan to be the Associate Diving Officer. In 1991, Dan became the Training Coordinator for Divers Alert Network, responsible for developing and implementing DAN training programs including the internationally successful DAN Oxygen First Aid Course.
Dan has authored and contributed to many books and magazine articles including co-author of Scuba Diving Safety and DAN's Pocket Guide for Diving Safety series. He has been a featured speaker at Beneath the Sea, Our World-Underwater, Underwater Canada, Divescapes, Boston Sea Rovers, International Conference on Underwater Education, SeaSpace, Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) and many others. He has also been the recipient of many awards for diving safety including Diver of the Year from Beneath the Sea, the Leonard Greenstone Award for Diving Safety, the NOGI Award from the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences, the Our World-Underwater Award and DEMA’s “Reaching Out” Award. Dan has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame for Divers with Disabilities.
Dan continues to serve the industry in many ways including being a recent member of the DEMA Board of Directors as well as Chairman of the Board of Directors (and Past President) of the Historical Diving Society (USA), and past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences.
Chuck Nicklin is a diving entrepreneur, photographer, filmmaker, mentor to many underwater photographers and filmmakers, and constant source of encouragement and passion for the diving world.
Sometime in the middle 1950’s Chuck Nicklin was bitten by the diving bug. Living in San Diego CA, one of the premier US locations for the early diving industry, he became involved with early pioneers of diving living nearby, including Hall of Fame inductees Ron Church, Dr. Andreas Rechnitzer, and other diving notables.
In 1959 Chuck and several of these local diving enthusiasts and diving scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, opened The Dive Locker in San Diego – one of the earliest dive stores in California. Along with running the retail business, Chuck learned underwater photography from Ron Church and in the 1960’s and 70’s, his photo and film work gradually eclipsed his income from the retail business. As his expertise grew this allowed him to shoot catalogs, photograph for magazines and eventually become involved in film for major motion pictures such as The Deep, For Your Eyes Only, The Abyss, and Never Say Never Again.
Over the years Chuck has been the mentor to many people, including his own son Flip, a famous photographer and filmmaker in his own right, well-known IMAX filmmakers (and ISDHF Inductees) Howard and Michele Hall, and world famous photographer Marty Snyderman.
Always teaching and encouraging to so many who are learning, Chuck now travels the world and shares what he knows and his passion for the underwater world. Along with his wife Roz, these days Chuck uses video to capture that underwater world.
Alese and Morton Pechter
Alese & Mort Pechter worked for many reaching out to the general public with their unique brand of photography and philosophy, creating awareness the beauty of the underwater world, and of recreational diving as a means to see that beauty.
Perhaps most often seen as photographers at DEMA Show (having been the official DEMA Show photographers for dozens of years!), their efforts have gone beyond just being a “job.” Diving, the diving industry and the people in the diving industry have been their passion. Their contact with the mass media has helped to change the image of the diving industry from "macho" to an accepted family recreational sport. In doing so, they have expanded the visibility of the diving industry, creating an opportunity for kids and adults to see this world through their eyes, while encouraging those potential divers to get out and try diving.
The Pechters have traveled the globe and spent many years documenting the underwater experience in the Cayman Islands… photographing, writing and lecturing, passing the word along about the world of SCUBA. Scientists and writers, as well as media personnel, have been the beneficiaries of their excellent photographs. The Pechters were responsible for photographs that changed the face of diving in the media; imagery of the Cayman Islands and other exotic locales that accompanied the articles written by international journalists in publications worldwide – and importantly, articles that reached outside of the diving community, to bring diving to the public at large.
Their underwater photographic library is a veritable history of the diving world and international SCUBA sites.
The Pechters have dedicated thousands of hours to teaching children about the underwater world. They entertain, visiting school children and with adult groups to promote ocean conservation. The Pechters’ children's book, What's In The Deep has received public and critical acclaim and was chosen a Public Broadcast System “Reading Rainbow” selection. It was the first ocean-oriented book directed toward young children that used actual photographs of the underwater world, rather than illustrations of imaginary critters. What's In The Deep? has become a science text in libraries and classrooms throughout the country.
During their careers Alese and Mort have been contributors to the first newspaper for divers, Underwater USA, and periodicals Caribbean Travel & Life, Dive Training and Sport Diver. Several of their underwater photos were selected by the Chinese government to be part of a special art show touring that country.
Ardent marine ecology advocates and always conscious of the fact that children who snorkel may one day become SCUBA divers, the Pechters have been ardent promoters diving as a family activity. Their promotion of snorkeling as an active, family recreational sport has encouraged the conservation & ecological spirit of the individual.
The Pechters have been elected Fellow National members in the prestigious Explorers Club for their contribution to scientific knowledge in the field of geographical exploration, Life members of the National Marine Educators Association, the Historical Divers Association and are also members of the Oceanography Society. Alese was elected a charter member of the Internationally-recognized Women Divers Hall of Fame.
Mort and Alese have promoted diving whenever and wherever they could, including involving themselves voluntarily in a variety of television productions, among them a special television production about sea and space, featuring Michael Collins, the command module pilot for Apollo 11, the NASA mission landing the first man on the moon. Their photos and articles have appeared in general interest magazines and newspapers throughout the world and their multi-media presentations and seminars on ecology, marine biology, land and underwater photography, travel and on the creation of multi-media shows, have captivated audiences at museums, schools, and universities throughout the world.
Their photographs have also drawn attention to the underwater world through several prestigious art gallery shows, and are part of the permanent collections of the Long Island Science Museum, Florida Atlantic University and Adelphi University. They were active founding members of the Long Island Science Museum having carried the title of Administrative Vice President of the museum for several years.
Among their many awards, Alese & Morton Pechter have been honored by the United Nations Environment Programme and recognized by the US Navy as Honorary Deep Sea Divers. They were honored by the South Florida Police Search & Rescue Teams, were selected as the 1996 Photojournalists of the Year and been awarded the 2003 NOGI for Distinguished Service.
The Pechters have the unique ability to instill in others the same excitement and enthusiasm for life's wonders that they have. Their obvious delight for the world beneath the sea is nurtured by their deep commitment to conservation and preservation of the underwater wilderness.
Neal Watson is known for promoting diving in the Caribbean to a worldwide audience and for his outreach through so many different media vehicles and volunteer activities, and for showing the world that diving is truly an adventure.
Neal Watson began diving in the Springs of Northern Florida in 1953 at the age of 13 and has been in the diving business for over 45 years.
Over his varied career as an entrepreneur Neal has worked as a commercial diver, treasure salver, stunt coordinator for the movie and TV industry, has owned and operated hotels, owned an airline charter company and established one of the few successful diving-related franchise operations in the Bahamas and Caribbean; Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures.
Neal gives of his time generously, and has held volunteer positions with Board of Directors for the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA), the Fort Lauderdale Florida Chamber of Commerce, and served for many years as President of the Bahamas Diving Association.
Neal's underwater achievements are legendary. He holds several Guinness World Records, including the compressed air diving depth record where he descended to 437 feet off Bimini. He recorded another milestone by swimming 66 miles underwater non-stop without surfacing in 19 ½ hours from the Florida Keys to Miami. That last event landed him a spot on the television show, To Tell the Truth!
In the world of motion pictures Neal has worked as a stuntman, and appeared in various television shows, including ABC’s 20/20, Inside Edition and The Today Show. Neal has also been featured in many magazine and newspaper articles including People Magazine and Outside Magazine, for his straightforward and frank personality, as much for his world records and exploits in shark diving. Neal generously gives back to the industry in so many ways, not the least of which includes reaching into the diving community to promote diving. Neal’s efforts include producing the annual “Ocean Fest,” the only seaside consumer dive show in the United States, held for 13 years in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Promoting diving and making a difference for the industry, Neal has worked with numerous celebrities. He taught Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York to dive and hand feed sharks for an ABC Special working for and with his longtime friend, Jean-Michel Cousteau.
Decima Mas (2014 Early Pioneer)
Decima Mas was the world’s first underwater combat unit using scuba equipment. They came to prominence during WWII during which they sunk or damaged five warships and 20 merchant ships accounting for a loss totaling 130,000 gross tons of shipping. The unit is the forerunner of all international underwater combat units.