Editorial – July 2022

What It Means To Be A Volunteer.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the July 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  We are so fortunate to be involved in a recreation that attracts some of the most adventurous, kind, considerate, intelligent, and generous people on the planet.  I have been a water sports person all my life and it has brought me great joy and appreciation.  Appreciation for a healthy environment.  Appreciation for our plant and animal population.  And yes, appreciation for the enviro-friendly recreation businesses I deal with on a daily basis. 

As a lifelong scuba diver, I know that, as a group, we are an adventurous lot.  That’s a given.  You have to have an adventurous streak in you, in order to put on life support equipment and enter a strange and sometimes hostile environment we know very little about.  Just for the sake of exploring and learning something new.  So, we are adventurous, courageous, and curious.

Scuba diving is an outdoor recreation, so we have developed an appreciation for clean air, clean water, and abundant and healthy plant and animal life.  Whether I am hiking on land or exploring underwater, I get that feeling we were designed to be more than custodians of our environment.  We were meant to be good stewards of all the gifts that were entrusted to us.  That means, we don’t just get to enjoy and appreciate a healthy environment, we have to use our abilities and talents to create and maintain a healthy environment for all to enjoy.

Being good stewards of the earth and everything in it means that everyone has a duty and a responsibility to do their part.  Since we were all born with unique talents and abilities, it means that we can volunteer our time, talent, and treasure according to our gifts.  Regardless of your ability, you have something of value that can be used for the greater good.

Volunteering your time, talents and treasures is not just for a few non-profit organizations.  The diving industry has many non-profit organizations that focus on a multitude of needs.  We have environmental groups that work for clean water, healthy reefs, and marine life.  We have organizations that work with people who have physical and emotional challenges.  Some specialize in working with Veterans.  A number of non-profits work with children, or specific minority groups.  Some non-profits are designed to assist small businesses to help them start, grow, and succeed in their calling.  The types of non-profit, charitable organizations are almost limitless.  Finding an organization to volunteer your time, talent and treasures should be easy.  In today’s world, the need is great, but the volunteer workers are few.

Many people don’t realize this, but becoming a volunteer is actually a part of our life cycle.  In his book Start, Jon Acuff tells us that everyone goes through the same five stages in life, and the stages appear to correspond to our age groups.  According to Acuff, the five stages of life are Learning, Editing, Mastering, Harvesting, and Guiding.  See if any of these apply to you.  In our 20’s we are focused on learning.  In our 30’s we are taking what we’ve learned and refining it in order to better serve our purpose.  We edit and use what works for us and we discard what doesn’t.  In our 40’s we spend our time mastering our trade and really digging into the details that makes us more competitive in the workplace and in our profession.  By the time we are in our 50’s we are at a point in our life where we can enjoy the fruits of our labor and reap the rewards of the hard work we’ve done in our lives.   When we arrive at our 60’s, it’s time to guide the younger generation and become the mentors they need.  That’s why volunteering is so important.  Over your lifetime you have developed talents that other people need and can use.  Hopefully you will now have the time to spare, working for a good cause.

To me, volunteering is donating your time, talent or treasures to an organization that does good work.  Work that benefits people, companies, governments, or the environment.  I’ve seen three types of volunteering in the diving industry and other industries as well.  Some organizations recruit general volunteers to do general tasks.  These organizations need bodies.  Lots of them.  Good examples are beach clean ups for the environment and parking or clean-up crews at the local church.  The tasks are general in nature and can be on a one-time basis or on a recurring schedule.  The second type of volunteering is one that uses a volunteer’s specific talent for a specific purpose.  Recruiting a Medical Doctor or Dentist for a doctors without borders program is a good example.  The mission of the organization is specific, and the volunteers have to be qualified and experienced to perform the work. The third type of volunteering is simply giving financial support to an organization.  If you look at the non-profit industry closely, you will see why this type of volunteering is essential for building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and libraries.  Without your financial support, many non-profits would not be able to carry on doing the work they do for their community or the world.

The diving industry needs all three types of volunteers.  We need the masses for beach clean-ups and environmental projects.  We need generous donations of equipment, travel accommodations, and dollars to keep these organizations solvent.  But most of all, we need the education and experience of the generation of Dive Industry Professionals that came before us, to volunteer their talents and expertise to small businesses so they can start, grow and succeed in the Global Diving Business Network.  Now, I want to distinguish the difference between a volunteer and an advisor with a special talent, because I have had experience as both.  Volunteers get things done.  Organizations ask for volunteers with various professional expertise, like law, accounting, marketing, graphic design, etc.  These organizations know what they want and are looking for talent that is willing to help them on a volunteer basis.  Advisors, on the other hand, lend their expertise on an as-needed basis to help an organization clarify an issue or help make a decision.  An Advisor’s recommendation is not always implemented and sometimes is not even valued by the paid employees of a company.  If you are asked to be an Advisor or a Volunteer, to sit on a committee that doesn’t have the authority to implement their recommendations, don’t just walk away from that situation, run.  Volunteering is a two-way street.  Companies must utilize and appreciate the work performed by the volunteer and the volunteer must be made to feel that the work they do is important, has meaning and is respected and appreciated by the company. 

I’ll close with this suggestion for the diving industry.  We need to recruit volunteers for our organizations, both non-profit and for-profit.  Until we can afford to bring on a paid employee or paid consultant for a specific task, brining on volunteers to help us grow will benefit our companies greatly.  Not only will it help your company, it will give Dive Industry Professionals worldwide, an opportunity to use their talents (or practice their talents) to help make a diving company better at serving its customers.

As we promote non-profit organizations of the diving industry in the pages of The Dive Industry Professional, let us think about ways we can promote and praise the volunteer work of divers and water sports people who work with us for the betterment of the industry.  We look forward to writing articles about organizations and their staff who do good work for the industry as well as the non-paid volunteers who donate their time, talent and treasures to make this a better world.

For more information on being a Dive Industry Professional Volunteer, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc., at gene@diveindustry.net or call me at 321-914-3778.

# TDIP #

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Editorial – June 2022

EDITORIAL – JUNE 2022

What Is A Dive Industry Professional?
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

Welcome to the June 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional.  Being this is our third issue in a magazine format, after twenty-two years as a Newsletter, it is a justifiable question to ask the International Diving Community “What is a Dive Industry Professional?”  I admit, we have skirted the issue, as has the entire diving industry, on defining what a Dive Industry Professional is.  We’ll do our best to give you our best definition of what we think the title implies as well as the roles and responsibilities of being a Dive Industry Professional.  Of course, this is in our humble opinion based on fifty years in the business.

Dive applies to all of the different types of diving in the many different markets.  It applies to snorkeling, free diving, scuba diving, surface-supplied diving, rebreather diving, and the like.  Dive includes recreational diving, public safety, military, commercial, occupational, scientific, and technical.  Basically, if you go underwater with equipment you are participating in dive.

Industry is a little more tricky.  Technically, an industry is a group of like-minded businesses, producing similar products or services, that collectively make up an industry.  Industries are based on how programs, products and services are made or sold.  The United States Government organizes industries in their North American Industry Classification System.  Industries include Manufacturing, Distribution, Retail, Service, Recreational Education, Travel, etc.  There are many industries that have a number of businesses that specialize in dive.  We currently track 18 of them.

Technically, a market is where stuff is bought & sold and is made up of buyers & sellers.  The Diving Industry, as we affectionately and wrongfully call it, is not an industry at all, but a niche market.  But that’s OK.  We will continue to call it an industry anyway, with a wink and a nod.

Now we get to the Professional part.  While there are many definitions of the word professional, word phrases that apply to us include; engaged in high standards of a profession, requiring advanced education, earning ones living from an activity, and engaged in a specific occupation for pay rather than a hobby. We acknowledge that all Scuba Diving Instructors can still be considered Professional even if some of them don’t teach diving for compensation.  Our purpose in the industry is to work with all water sports professionals who make a living, part time or full time, in the business of diving.

 So, we will define a Dive Industry Professional as anyone who works in the Global Diving Business Network for pay, either on a full time or part time basis.  If you work in the diving community and you make money at it, we consider you to be an Industry Trade Professional.  A Dive Industry Professional to be exact.  The good news is that you now have a monthly trade publication to call your own, regardless of your certification affiliation or your dive equipment preference. 

As we said before, The Dive Industry Association has been publishing The Dive Industry Professional for 22 years.  We started out as a printed bi-monthly newsletter.  Then we eventually began publishing every month.  As our membership and circulation grew, we turned the newsletter into a monthly digital publication.  The power of a 4-color publication with digital hot links to active websites was a big plus for us and our members.  The problem with using a digital format was getting our subscribers to scroll down past the fold, never mind for 30 pages.  With advanced graphics, adobe software programs, and a flip-page format, we now have the best of both worlds with longer content length and good graphic capability.  I believe we are heading into a new age of monthly trade communications.

Welcome to the new monthly, digital trade news publication, The Dive Industry Professional.  Our vision is to reach the entire Global Diving Business Network with a free trade publication that covers every diving topic imaginable, brought to the International Diving Community every month. Our goal is to bring you an industry insider’s perspective into the modern-day business of diving topics and issues.

In future issues of The Dive Industry Professional, we will present a monthly Editorial, a Feature Article as part of a series, an Industry Profile, a Shows & Events Calendar, and information about Membership in the Dive Industry Association.  We will include articles about businesses that specialize in diving, that are in the manufacturing, retailing, training, and the travel industries.   We hope to report on diving equipment tests and dive resort visits.  We will feature dive operators and their dive operation crews.  We will feature Scuba Instructors, Dive Clubs, Dive Boats, and Non-Profit Organizations and report on their diving activities.  We will publish articles about the business of diving and how using modern marketing tools and technologies can improve your business operation and your bottom line.

Our Monthly Trade Magazine will be all about the sales of diving equipment, training programs, travel services and lifestyle products that meet our customers’ needs and grows the recreational diving industry.  Our goal is to get The Dive Industry Professional into the hands of every Dive Industry Professional across the globe, every month.  Subscription is FREE to all in the International Diving Community by opting in at our Constant Contact Safe Subscribe site at:

https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=0016DNjNiidDhTPnQ5-9C-DOEg4XEpKmyxn

When you subscribe to our monthly trade publication, you can also opt-in to our Weekly Dive News, published every Tuesday, and our General Mailing list. You can also unsubscribe or change your profile any time you wish. We are all about keeping happy and informed divers.

For more information on being a Dive Industry Professional, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc., at gene@diveindustry.net or call me at 321-914-3778.

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Stand Up And Be Counted

Surveying The Diving Business Community.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
Dive Industry Professional

The Dive Industry Association is looking into ways to improve the flow of goods and services in the recreational diving industry. In the post-pandemic period, the international diving community is recovering from a difficult two years. As many of us reopen our businesses we are noticing that things have changed. Some of these changes are temporary and some are permanent. In our July Editorial we talked about how the diving business community needed to become more professional, due to at least four major changes in the past 20 years. The four major changes being; 1) Maturity of the industry. 2) Digitization of text, images & objects. 3) Covid Pandemic. 4) Changing Business Landscape.

Because so many things have changed, I feel we are re-entering a business environment that is different than before but new and exciting at the same time. So as we reenter the business community, let’s look at it as a new (ad)venture.

What’s the first thing you do when you start something new? Gather information. The Dive Industry Foundation is taking a lead role in surveying Dive Manufacturers, Manufacturing Sales Reps, Retail Dive Stores and the Travel Industry. We’ll go over each one and the reason we are asking for your participation. But first let me tell you what we are doing with the data collected.

As a Trade Association our Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together to increase sales, grow member companies and grow the industry. Because so many things have changed in the last two years, we are redefining the channels of distribution used by four categories of the industry that account for the majority of sales in recreational diving and adventure travel. They are Diving Equipment, Training Programs, Dive Travel and Lifestyle Products.

We define the diving equipment channel of distribution as Manufacturer – Mfg Sales Rep – Retail Dive Store – Consumer. Before we can address the Demand Chain (Consumers) we need to make sure the supply chain understands each other and is working well with their supply partners.

The Travel Industries that specialize in diving is larger, more diverse, and scattered all over the globe. In many cases, diving is a small niche market for many of these businesses. In the delivery of services to the final consumer we define our Dive Travel Channel of Distribution as Tourism Board – Resort Destination or Liveaboard – Dive Travel Wholesaler – Dive Travel Specialist (Retail Travel Buyer) – Consumer.

As I mentioned before, our redefined channels of distribution are not perfect, absolute or even the same in every case, but the models we construct are workable, easy to understand and constitute a majority of the revenue in the Diving and Adventure Travel Market. We can always work on variations and exceptions to this model later, but for now, this may give us the biggest bang for the buck.

DIVING EQUIPMENT SALES:

The first Survey we have is the Dive Manufacturing Companies. This is the first year we have used this. Whether the company is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer), manufacturer or distributor, this group is considered the originator of diving or diving related equipment. First of all, we want to know if we have the company’s correct contact information and they are still in business. Secondly we want to understand the company profile, size and managerial makeup. Since we are in the referral business, we need to know the proper person to contact for specific issues. The survey questions delve into the use of sales reps, participation in trade and consumer shows, memberships in trade organizations and the use of professional sales and marketing tools. We need to know how many domestic and international Dealers they sell to and how they reach their customers. Understanding our manufacturing partners helps us determine the current state of the industry and what business needs may be unfulfilled at this time. We currently have over 400 manufacturing companies in our database and are doing everything to quantify and qualify our data.

The second survey is the Manufacturing Sales Rep Survey. First conducted in 2002, this survey defines the work of a small 140 person industry niche. Our Industry Report on Sales Reps showed us many important aspects of what manufacturing sales reps do for the industry. It’s important to know how many companies they represent, how many accounts they service, in the number of states and how many days they are on the road. When we look at the impact of their gross sales revenues and know how much (or little) they are paid before deducting their travel expenses, we understand the value of using Sales Reps. Our current roster of Manufacturing Sales Reps is about 140. That includes In-House Sales Teams and Reps working through contracted Sales Rep Companies. Individual sales people from individual companies are not included in our database.

The third survey is the Retail Dive Stores. Our first Retail Survey was performed in 2002 and was ground breaking in the industry. We learned the size of the average dive store, how many students they certified to dive, how much equipment and travel they sold and how business savvy they were in using business plans, marketing plans, and business consultants. We saw how many people they employed, how many Instructors they used, the number of group trips they booked and more. The more we learn about the dive store sector, the more we realize how important they are to our industry. The front-line ambassadors of diving deserve a lot more respect and perks then they are currently getting. Prior to the pandemic, our domestic retail database was at about 1,500. We are into the 1,400’s now and this number gets lower every year.

The completion of these three surveys will significantly change the way we relate to the diving equipment stakeholders in the industry. When you look at Manufacturers, Sales Reps and Dive Retailers as working partners in one-third of the Supply Chain of our Industry you’ll have a better idea of the industry’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I can’t emphasize the importance of completing these three surveys and we encourage all three sectors to participate in them whole-heartily.

DIVE TRAVEL SALES:

The fourth survey we completed this week and have started to distribute is the Dive Travel Industry Survey. We have over 900 dive travel businesses in our database that specialize in dive travel. We are sending one survey to a number of different industries to determine the correct Business Profile of the companies as determined by their NAICS Code. We are looking at Airlines, Resorts, Liveaboards, Dive Stores (International), Dive Operators, Dive Travel Wholesalers, Travel Advisers, and Dive Group Leaders. We are looking to understand this market in a way we could refer business to them using our Travel Channel of Distribution. The more we know about the Travel market of today, the better we can address their needs to reboot their business and attract new customers.

SURVEY INTENT:

Our surveys are just the beginning. Our Mission is to bring Buyers & Sellers together for their mutual benefit, not ours. Redesigning new Channels of Distribution for different market segments only makes it easier for individual stakeholders to acquire new vendors and customers, retain the ones they have and recapture the ones they lost. It’s about being a part of an International Business Community that works together for mutual benefit, reducing fragmentation and duplication of effort. It’s about being part of a TEAM while focusing on your own core competencies for maximum efficiency and profitability. It’s about becoming and remaining more professional, more productive and more profitable.

To request a survey for your business please contact Gene Muchanski.

DIVE INDUSTRY FOUNDATION IS A 501(c)(3) NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION:

Our Foundation does not profit from conducting these surveys. Our Mission is Promoting Economic Development in Water Sports. Our industry work is performed by Volunteer Marketing Professionals and Volunteer Dive Industry Professionals. If you would like to volunteer your time, money or manpower, please contact:

Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Foundation
2294 Botanica Circle
West Melbourne, FL 32904
Phone: 321-914-3778
eMail: gene@diveindustry.org
Web: www.diveindustry.org

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Preserving Our Diving History

dif-backdrop-2Preserving Our Diving History
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional

The recreational diving industry can trace its history back to the end of World War II when Navy Frogmen brought home their new found tool, the Aqua Lung, and introduced it to their civilian friends.  Dive equipment manufacturers started making dive gear, lifeguards and spearfishermen  started teaching people how to dive and certification agencies were created to formalize training programs for the masses.  Well, maybe not “masses” but many anyway. Seventy some-odd years later, things have changed.  Many dive equipment manufacturers have gone out of business.  The manufacturing industry that specializes in diving equipment has evolved down to the top 4 full-line companies, with perhaps 70 more that manufacture some type of diving equipment and sell wholesale to retail dive stores.

The Sports and Recreation Instruction Industry now includes approximately 40 certification agencies that specialize in the training and certification of scuba divers.

The Travel Industry has blossomed, worldwide and the number of dive resorts and dive operators is at an all time high.  Well, at least in numbers before the COVID19 pandemic.

The most remarkable change to our international community is the Retail Dive Store.  aka The Dive Shop, The Local Sporting Goods Store, The Retail Dive Center, and the Travel & Outdoor Adventure Stores.  From garages and cellars with an air compressor to commercial leases with lots of pegboard to stand-alone stores with training pools and lots of slatwall and grid panels.  

No where in the world is this history documented so well as in our skin and scuba diving magazines.  Which I am a collector of, by the way.  One only has to peruse the back issue of SKIN DIVER Magazine to see, remember and appreciate our diving history.  We wrote about it and recorded it.  For the most part, much of it is still with us.  But it won’t be long before it’s all gone and forgotten. 

Our new recreation has grown older and many of our founding pioneers have left us.  But they left behind a lot of stuff.  Old gear, old books, old magazines.  The kind of stuff we Divers cherish and the same kind of stuff our heirs with throw in a dumpster when we die.  We can’t let that happen.

I wrote a blog post on facebook two days ago.  Post  I asked, “How many Diving Historians do we have?  I was encouraged with the 11 likes and 18 comments I received.  To my surprise, there are still a number of collectors out there.  There is even a good number of non-profit organizations and museums that specialize in old diving stuff.  Books, magazines, gear, etc.

Dive Industry Foundation plans to organize a list of Diving Historians, Collectors, Museums, and Non-Profits that focus on diving history.  We will publish articles on Diving Pioneers, Diving Collectors, Diving Equipment, Diving Magazines and Diving Museums.  Since different people collect different things, i.e. equipment, books, magazines, trade show stats (lol), and various diving related information, we’ll do our best to connect the right item with the right source.  We’ll also give this topic free press in our Weekly Dive News and monthly newsletter The Dive Industry Professional.   

This should be a fun project for the international diving community.  Contact the Foundation and let us know what you specialize in and how we can help.

DIFlogo-tag-200I’ll start off by listing Dive Industry Foundation, non-profit 501c3, as an organizer, media & marketing source and a collector of Dive Magazines.  Contact: Gene Muchanski, Executive Director.  Dive Industry Foundation, 2294 Botanica Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904.  Phone: 321-914-3778.  email: gene@diveindustry.org  Website: www.diveindustry.org  Donations of any size are  appreciated.  Specify – Dive History Project.  Full tax deductions as allowed by law.

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Passing of Dr. Glen H. Egstrom

Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society
by Steve Barnett, President
1990 Rolex Scholar

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Dr. Glen H. Egstrom passed quietly at home facing the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by family on Monday, October 7, 2019.

Glen was a highly-regarded researcher, educator, mentor, and friend to the diving community.

The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society was privileged to have Glen as a Founding Director.  Over the past 45+ years, Glen championed the idea of providing young people with opportunities and experiences related to the underwater world through the Society’s scholarships and internships.

Wednesday, October 16th would be Glen’s 91st birthday.  His daughters invite friends and family to raise a toast and cherish a memory, wherever you are on that day.  Let’s send a wave of love around the planet.

Family has requested that any cash memorials be made to the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society for the establishment of an internship in Dr. Egstrom’s name.  https://owuscholarship.org/about-us 

 

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Looking For Mermaids

Dive Industry Foundation
Non-profit 501(c)(3)
GeneMuchanski, ExecutiveDirector

The Dive Industry Foundation is looking for Mermaids in our industry who like to work with non-profit, environmental organizations.  One of our friends in the industry has worked with Mermaids in the past and needs our help identifying Mermaids, Mermaid Organizations and Non-profit Environmental Organizations.  Dive Industry Foundation accepts that challenge and we need your help.

The Foundation already has an industry database that contains many non-profit, marine & environmental organizations and their Key People.  We are now looking to add Mermaids and their companies to our database.  If you can help us identify this group, please have them send their picture, bio, contact information and any recent press releases they have to gene@diveindustry.org We will showcase one Mermaid and the work they do, every week, in Dive Industry Association’s Weekly News. 

Let’s have fun with this and give some credit where credit is due.

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Dive Industry Foundation to Exhibit at DEMA Show 2019

DIFlogo-tag-200Dive Industry Foundation
Non-profit 501(c)(3)
DEMA Show Booth 447
November 13-16, 2019

Please stop by our Booth 447 at the DEMA Show.  Here is what you will see.

  • Free Business Consulting
  • Industry Trade Directory / Buyers Guide
  • Information on DIVE LOCAL Campaigns
  • Retail Dive Center Survey
  • Manufacturing Sales Rep Survey
  • Business Course – Hypergrow Your Business
  • Book – The TriStart Matrix: Available for $20 Donation
  • Book – Hire Your First Employee by Rhonda Abrams
  • Book – Blackbeard by Margaret Hoffman: Available for $20 Donation
  • Dive Industry Foundation – Business Consultancy Services
  • Free Marketing Tips on using Social Media, Press Releases & Trade Shows
  • Information on Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Programs
  • Drawings and Show Specials – TBA
  • JOIN “Friends of the Industry” for $25 Donation
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Daniel Copeland Selected – 2015 European Rolex Scholar

It is a great pleasure to announce that Mr. Daniel Copeland, age 23, from North Wales has been selected to be the 2015 European Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.

DANIEL COPELAND | BIOGRAPHY:

Danny-Copeland-200Daniel Copeland, 23, has always enjoyed learning about, understanding and experiencing different aspects of the natural world. Despite this underlying passion, and a childhood living along the coast of North Wales, his plan throughout most of high school was to follow a path in electronic media and graphic design. It wasn’t until he took his first breathes underwater during an introductory ocean dive in a harbor in Malta, that Daniel’s love for the underwater world rapidly bubbled to the surface. During that dive, he was captivated by an unlikely encounter with a colorful and curious cuttlefish an experience that changed the direction of his life forever.

Over the next few years, Daniel gained his PADI Open Water diving certification in Turkey, enrolled on an Open University, self-taught course in marine science, and embarked on a month-long expedition to Ecuador. Here he was fortunate enough to experience the rich marine biodiversity of the Galapagos archipelago, snorkeling with sea lions, sharks and penguins during a week tour of these famed islands. He was hooked! A career revolving around the underwater world was now the only path for him.

Daniel took a year out from education to further his diving skills and continued travelling to foreign shores. He spent three months immersed in the scuba culture of Thailand’s islands, where he was trained as a PADI Divemaster and to service Aqualung regulators. Daniel then headed to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, to experience an unforgettable introduction to cenote diving, and to unexpectedly attend the world’s second largest underwater wedding!

Daniel completed his degree in Zoology at the University of Sheffield in 2014. Although he was distant from the sea, Daniel managed to keep the underwater world a constant during his studies. He became a member of the university’s subaqua club, serving on the club’s committee and participating in the organization and management of various dive trips around the UK. Through the club he was trained as a drysuit and Nitrox diver, and later began teaching fellow students as a BSAC Assistant Diving Instructor.

In 2012 Daniel interned at the Marine Discovery Centre at Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives, where he assisted the resident biologists with their turtle rehabilitation, coral reef propagation, and fish breeding programes. It was here that Daniel also helped the Manta Trust collect photo ID data of manta rays within Baa Atoll and the world famous Hanifaru MPA. He went on to assist other scientists studying marine megafauna, including tagging whale sharks in Tanzania and supporting another manta ray researcher in Indonesia. His final year research project focused on gender differences in the skin morphology of lesser-spotted catsharks, whilst his dissertation assessed the effectiveness of ecotourism in the conservation of elasmobranchs.

Throughout his experiences, Daniel has enlisted different ways of sharing his passion for the underwater world. He has organized stands and given public presentations on manta conservation at several UK dive shows, and recently helped to manage a Scottish festival dedicated to basking sharks. Putting his existing media skills to good use, he has collaborated with marine NGOs to spearhead multiple online campaigns to garner public support of protective legislation for sharks and rays, reaching an audience of more than four million people. After developing a keen interest for underwater photography and videography, he placed 2nd in an amateur wildlife film competition ran by a popular UK natural history TV channel, with a one-minute film on blue sharks.

Over the years, Daniel’s desires have developed from pursuing a career in the underwater world, to developing one where he also plays a part in conserving it. Despite the armada of anthropogenic impacts that threaten our oceans, Daniel believes that the biggest challenge is inciting the world to care about these threats in the first place. His goal is to gain a better understanding of how to reconnect people with the ocean using a variety of different strategies – after all, a world that continues to be disconnected from its marine environment will have no interest in fighting to protect it. Daniel is honored to be appointed the OWUSS European Rolex Scholar for 2015, and believes it will provide an invaluable opportunity for him to learn how he can play a role in rekindling a love for our blue planet.

 

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Ben Buchan Appointed 2015 Australasian Rolex Scholar

It is a great pleasure to announce that Mr. Ben Buchan, from New South Wales, Australia has been selected to be the 2015 Australasian Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.

BEN BUCHAN | BIOGRAPHY:

Ben-Buchan-200I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales, and have lived within 10 minutes of a beach  since I was 11 years old. For as long as I can remember, I have had a deep fascination with the  marine environment, and have always had the desire to learn as much as possible.

I gained my open water diving certification at the age of 15 as part of my marine studies class at  high school, which is when I became addicted to diving. Upon the completion of my Higher School  Certificate in 2010, I started my Bachelor of Marine Science in 2011 at Macquarie University,  North Ryde. Through my studies, I became more passionate about the marine environment and I  was offered the opportunity to volunteer in Cambodia in the initiation of a coral reef  regeneration project with Reach Out Volunteers.

For an entire month in January of 2012, I stayed on an island called Koh Rong in Cambodia, in a  tiny village that had not had any western influence. The reef around this village was so degraded  from the use of non-sustainable fishing practices, including the use of dynamite. Over this month,  the team I was  part of removed over 100 nets from the surrounding reef, and focused on  teaching the village proper and sustainable fishing practices. It was through this time I realized  the significance that education and public awareness has on the conservation of continued  protection of the marine environment. I left Cambodia with the desire to share my knowledge  and experiences of the ocean with as many people as possible.

Back in Australia, I continued my commitment to Reach Out Volunteers, and begun recruiting  other students to volunteer in a range of environmental and community development projects  around the world. In 2013, I became a scuba instructor, and have since been able to share my  passion and knowledge of the marine environment with my students that have been from all  around the world.

As part of my university degree, I secured a volunteer position at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, and  was involved in many aspects of animal husbandry from feeding, cleaning, and monitoring life  support systems from rescue animals. I had the opportunity to work with animals from small fish  and invertebrates, to large sharks, turtles and stingrays. Here, I had the unique opportunity to  share the importance of marine conservation with a diverse audience.

Before my final semester or university in January of 2014, I returned to Koh Rong in Cambodia to  again assist in the continuation of the coral reef regeneration project. I was inspired by the new  attitude of the village towards the marine environment, and overwhelmed by the increased  health of the surrounding reef.  Over the course of January of 2014, I certified 35 volunteers for  their open water course, and as a team, we deployed artificial reef pods to aid in the growth of  this reef system. Now, there are over 100 artificial pods surrounding this growing reef, and the  project continues today, with volunteers constantly traveling to aid in the program.

In June of 2014, I graduated with a Bachelor of Marine Science, and begun working as a Shark  Dive Coordinator at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, having the unique opportunity to not only  introduce people to the diving experience, but get them up close and personal with large Grey Nurse sharks, education them about the importance of shark conservation.

I have since begun my Master of Marine Science and Management at Macquarie University, and am currently focused on the social behavior of sharks. I am currently living on Heron Island as a dive instructor, again having the opportunity to share my passion for diving, and the marine  environment, with a particular focus on the importance of the Great Barrier Reef system.   I look forward to the opportunity to add to my list of experiences, and participate in a number of  important marine projects throughout the scholarship year.

 

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Michele Felberg Appointed 2015 North American Rolex Scholar

owuss_logo-2owuss-100March 4, 2015

Dear OWUSS Friends,

It is my very great pleasure to announce that Ms. Michele Felberg, age 23, from Houston, Texas was selected on March 2nd to be the 2015 North American Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.  Michele earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Economics, from the University of Southern California. She is a NAUI Divemaster  and AAUS Scientific Diver. She is currently living in Palau, where she is a Dive Guide and Underwater Naturalist.  Her primary underwater interests are research, conservation, and finding innovative ways to encourage people to cherish and protect the ocean. Please see the attached bio and photo to learn more about Michele.

The Scholarship Selection Committee feels that Michele is highly qualified to excel in her role representing the Scholarship Society and has the determination and passion to make a lasting contribution to the underwater world in the future.

I am sure you will all wish to join me in welcoming Michele to the Scholarship family and wish her success in her upcoming year of challenge, adventure, and learning. She can be reached at felberg@usc.edu.

Michele-Felberg-200Michele Felberg Bio:  Michele Felberg, from Houston, Texas, always had an affinity for water but didn’t quite grasp her love for the underwater world until her years earning a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a minor in Economics at the University of Southern California.  It was during her sophomore year that she realized the magnitude of her passion and curiosity through her participation in two new Environmental Studies courses.  First, in the Intro to Scientific Diving course she earned her NAUI Open Water certification as well as the AAUS scientific diver certification.  In the second course, Integrated Ecosystem Management in Micronesia, she intensively studied the marine ecology, biodiversity, and conservation management of Micronesia and then traveled to Guam and Palau for a field research trip to evaluate coral reef health.  Data collected in this research were used, in part, as justification for listing Palau’s Southern Lagoon as a World Heritage Site.

This experience opened Michele’s eyes to the beauty and complexity of the marine world and she decided to pursue a concentration within the Environmental Studies department called “Oceans, Life, and People” which focused her studies on the underwater world. She spent half of her junior year in New Zealand, where she studied marine science, conducted research on freshwater macroinvertebrate populations and stream health, and sparked her love of adventure traveling.  As a senior she worked as a research assistant on a seagrass-monitoring project in Big Fisherman’s Cove on Catalina Island, examining monthly fluctuations in seafloor coverage of a foundation species of seagrass, Zostera marina. Michele presented the results of this research at the annual Southern California Academy of Sciences symposium.  Supplementing her research diving, she earned her Rescue Diver and Training Assistant certifications during the fall of her senior year.  The few weekends of her senior year Michele didn’t spend diving on Catalina Island, she was heavily involved in an organization called SC Outfitters, leading students on hiking and camping trips around the Southwest US, sharing her passion for the great outdoors and exploration.

During her last semester at USC, Michele was asked to serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the two environmental studies courses that initiated her interest in the underwater world. This position is rarely offered to an undergraduate. While assisting in the teaching of academic content and class logistics, Michele helped with the dive training of the new students and earned her Divemaster certification. Immediately upon graduation, she returned to Micronesia as a TA for the USC summer research field course in Palau. At the end of the class she was offered a position as a Dive Guide/ Underwater Naturalist at one of the top dive centers in Palau. Her work in Palau has fed her love for experiencing new cultures, diving, and sharing the wonders of the underwater world with the guests she guides. She has opportunities to assist visiting researchers  with their projects and was instrumental in developing a lecture series to inform guests, from a scientific perspective, about the local fauna, flora, and reef ecology. In addition, living in Palau has given her a greater appreciation for the power of local communities tied to the oceans and a better understanding of the importance of incorporating local knowledge with scientific research.  On the few days a month she doesn’t dive, Michele enjoys reading a good book, going on runs, exploring the land attractions of Palau, and wishing she was diving.

One of Michele’s long-range goals is to provide a legacy of relentless pursuit of the conservation and protection of the oceans by fostering within others a mindset that every individual can make a positive impact on marine conservation.

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