2016 Seminar Speakers – 2017 speakers to be announced

Gretchen M. Ashton, CFT, SFT, SFN, NBFE

GretchenMAshtonGretchen is an advanced diver, NBFE and ISSA Elite Personal Trainer, Specialist in Fitness Therapy and Nutrition, a world champion athlete, founder of ScubaFit LLC and FitDiver®, co-author of the ScubaFit® Diver Course, and publishes FitDiver® Magazine. She is a prolific writer and speaker including presentations and articles for dive clubs, Los Angeles County’s ADP and UICC, World’s Best Dives, Unified Team Diving Journal, California Diver, X-Ray Mag, Alert Diver U.S and Asia-Pacific, Divetime, ScubaBoard, Scuba Sport Magazine and Examiner. Gretchen has been a guest Scuba Radio and Dive Zone Radio, at dive medicine conferences, and was featured in the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports newsletter and Margaritaville Key West culinary column.

Peter Buzzacott, Ph.D

Peter BuzzacottDr. Peter Buzzacott, MPH, PhD is an avid diver and DAN Director of Injury Monitoring and Prevention. Dr. Buzzacott collects and analyzes data on diving injuries and fatalities, hospital admissions and near misses. Having made 2000 scuba dives in many countries and certified hundreds of recreational divers, Dr. Buzzacott offers practical advice for avoiding common hazards faced by recreational divers.

Trevor Cook

Trevor CookYou recognize Trevor Cook in his role as the Scuba Chef for California Diving News. His monthly recipe column is a celebration of the bounty of sustainable California seafood. After graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu, Trevor began his career in Foodservice as the Banquet Chef at the Omni Hotel in San Diego, CA. From there he created and ran a small catering company in San Diego, and after five years took his career on another path as the Executive Chef of 21 Ocean Front. Trevor joined the Culinary Services Team of U.S. Foodservice as territory manager and Division Executive Chef, where among other things he played a key role in the innovation and marketing of US Foodservice signature brands. Today he works with restaurants at SYSCO Foodservice. Away from his day Job working with restaurants, you can find Chef Trevor Cook diving the coastal waters off Southern California in search of delicious sea food and developing new and exciting ways for you to prepare and cook the bounty of our waters. His motto, ‘Stay safe, stay legal and never take more than you’ll eat.’

Eric Hanauer

Eric Hanauer
Over the past 38 years, Eric Hanauer’s photos and articles have been puslished in magazines, books, posters, and DVDs worldwide. He has written guidebooks to the Red Sea and Micronesia, as well as an oral history of diving in America. For the past dozen years he has concentrated more on video. His work has been shown in festivals, on the internet, and in TV commercials. Eric is an emeritus professor of physical education at Cal State Fullerton, where he founded the scuba program and coached swimming and water polo.

Gary Hild

Scuba diving for 43 years, Los Angeles County Lake Lifeguard for 30 years, with 20 years as a full time Senior Lake Lifeguard. On the lifeguard dive team for 19 years and diving officer for 3 years. Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Underwater Instructor Certification Course (UICC 43) graduate in 1999 and received the outstanding teaching award. Currently the County’s Underwater Unit Director for the past 4 years.

Karl Huggins

Karl HugginsKarl Huggins has been the Director of the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber Facility at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center since 1992. He is noted for his work in decompression theory and models, which resulted in the Michigan Sea Grant (HUGI) tables and his participation in the development of the EDGE dive computer.

Karl is the 1990 recipient of the Leonard Greenstone Diving Safety Award, the DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year for 1993, the 2004 Conrad Limbaugh Memorial Award for Scientific Diving Leadership and the 2008 California Scuba Service Award

Tom Ingram

Tom Ingram
Tom Ingram has been the Executive Director of the diving industry’s trade group, the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association, since 2002. He is a long-time diving instructor and instructor trainer, and the former marketing director for a major diving equipment manufacturer.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Ingram was employed through Barry University in Miami, Florida. As a faculty and department head, Ingram started and oversaw the first four-year degree program directly connected to the business aspects of the recreational diving industry, combining a business minor and liberal arts education with a diving education program leading to a certification as a diving instructor and baccalaureate degree. Ingram also served as a faculty and department head for the Sport Diving Operations degree program at Florida Institute of Technology.

In 2008 Tom was recognized by Scuba Schools International (SSI) as a Platinum Pro 5000 Diver. In 2011 he was a recipient of the Wyland Icon Award. He was Diver of the Year for Education for Beneath the Sea in 2015.

Captain John Kades

Lieutenant John KadesCaptain John Kades has been an investigator/deputy coroner for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office since October 2000. He has been a member of the department’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and has specialized in disaster operations, aircraft fatalities, drowning/SCUBA cases, and skeletal/buried body cases. He is currently one of the managers of the operations division that includes 6 lieutenants, 38 investigators, and approximately 30 forensic support staff. He also directly oversees the department’s Notifications Section, searching for and notifying the legal next of kin of the deceased.
As a member of the California State Coroner’s Association (CSCA) Captain Kades serves on the Association’s coroner curriculum development committee that recommends training standards for death investigations. He has a BA in criminal justice from UC Santa Barbara. He has been an active scuba diver since 1981. Kades spent 14 years as a public safety diver for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Underwater Search and Recovery team.

Ken Knezick

Ken KnezickKen Knezick is owner of Island Dreams Travel in Houston, Texas. He has logged more than 3,500 scuba dives and many thousands of hours underwater, quite literally around the world. From the Caribbean to the Pacific, his travels include most of the world’s great diving destinations. Ken served as Executive Director of Houston’s SEASPACE Exposition for 22 years. He is past President of Houston International Diver’s Club, and is a founding member of both the Houston Underwater Photographic Society (HUPS), and G.R.E.A.T., the Gulf Reef Environmental Action Team. Ken is recipient of the PADI Project Aware/SEASPACE Environmental Awareness Award, and at DEMA he was honored with induction into the SSI Platinum Pro 5000 Society. An accomplished underwater photographer, when not actually diving Ken enjoys writing short stories, travelogues, and presenting seminars and workshops at dive shows and dive clubs around the U.S.A.

Ken Kurtis

Ken KurtisKen Kurtis was kicked out of swim class twice by the time he was six (he didn’t like putting his face in the water). Hardly an auspicious start to a diving career. But Ken always loved being around the water, loved looking at fish, and in 1978 while running a radio station in Richmond, VA, was offered a chance to get certified and took advantage of it. Ken then became a NAUI Instructor (Top Candidate at his 1980 ITC) and has logged over 5,000 dives all over the world in such varied places as the Maldives, Indonesia, Yap, Tahiti, Bonaire, Easter Island, Alaska, and, of course, his beloved waters of Southern California. Ken is the owner of Reef Seekers Dive Co., speaks frequently to dive clubs about diving techniques and safety issues, has been chairman of Chamber Day/Eve since the early 90s, served for 10 years as a member of the Statewide Interests Group for the MLPA, and is a volunteer dive team leader at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Ken is an accomplished photographer whose photos & stories can be found in the pages of the California Diving News, Undercurrent, and other scuba publications, along with the monthly Reef Seekers newsletter. Since 2003, Ken has been a Forensic Consultant to the L.A. County Department of Medical-Examiner/Coroner. With all that, he still finds time to maintain an acting career (he was the voice of most of the hockey announcers in the 2015 documentary “Red Army”) and leads most of the local and foreign trips for Reef Seekers. He’s a very good cook, avid Scrabble & Boggle player, chases total solar eclipses, ran five L.A. Marathons, and is kind to animals and small children. Be sure to ask him his mantra about divers.

Michael A. Lang, Ph.D

Michael LangMichael Lang is a marine biologist, environmental physiologist, author, and international lecturer. He holds appointments as UCSD Emergency Medicine Adjunct Faculty, Senior Research Fellow at The Ocean Foundation, served as director for nonprofit organizations, including AAUS, DAN, UHMS and AUAS and as expert consultant to the National Science Foundation, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International.

Former Marine Collector/Curator at San Diego State University, Director of the Smithsonian Marine Science Network, Smithsonian Scientific Diving Officer, and National Science Foundation Polar Diving Safety Officer, Lang holds a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from San Diego State University, and a PhD in Environmental Physiology from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

He is fluent in five languages, has published over 50 scientific papers and popular articles and presented over 350 seminars/papers on current marine science and diving topics. Honors include DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year, U.S. Antarctica Service Medal, NAUI Outstanding Instructor Award, Smithsonian Special Act Award, UHMS Craig Hoffmann Diving Award, AAUS Conrad Limbaugh Scientific Diving Leadership Award, DEMA Reaching Out Award, and the AUAS NOGI Award for Science.

Rick Lesser

Rick Lesser
Eight time Super Lawyer Rick Lesser brings over three decades of dive litigation experience to the seminar, based on his representation of some of the industry’s leading manufacturers and training agencies. Rick has lectured repeatedly at both the annual recreational dive industry trade show and the annual Commercial diving conference. A lifetime diver, he is also the author of multiple articles relating to dive safety, risk management and maritime law.

Sid Macken

SidMacken President, Historical Diving Society, USA

Sid Macken joined the Historical Diving Society, USA, in 1994 and quickly became deeply involved in the Societyʼs activities. Now the Societyʼs President, Sid also contributes a regular column on the history of underwater photography to the Societyʼs Journal of Diving History, and frequently speaks on diving history at public events. Sid has been diving since 1957, is a graduate of Santa Barbara City Collegeʼs Marine Diving Technology Program, professional underwater videographer, and former public safety diving instructor.

Marty McCafferty

Marty McCaffertyDAN Medical Information Specialist Marty McCafferty, EMT-P, DMT-A has been both a dive instructor and a paramedic since 1995. He has worked as a paramedic in the field, in an ER and as an EMS supervisor at an Ohio theme park. He also has experience training students with disabilities to dive. Additionally he was certified as an AHA BLS and First Aid instructor as well as an EMT instructor. He has been with DAN since 2004.

Leo Morales

Leo MoralesLeo Morales, as a cancer survivor and physically challenged, has found in the ocean the perfect way to send a powerful inspirational messages and improvement. A holder of two world records for Adapted Diving, Leo is a TEDx speaker and motivator. Leo is author of the book “Dive abled, The Leo Morales Story”, protagonist of the documentary “The Story of a warrior ” and “The Current ” with diving legend, Jean Michel Cousteau. He is a diving instructor for PADI , SDI , TDI, CMAS, the Handicapped Scuba Association and Disabled Divers International. He promotes integration through his foundation: ” Open Sea AC”.

Amos Nachoum

Amos-HighArctic-Amos is a wildlife photographer and expedition leader for over 35 years. In the underwater discipline, Amos developed a unique specialty, filming Ocean Giants across all oceans from the High Arctic to Antarctica.

Amos’ underwater camera has safely captured the behavior of Polar bears, Crocs, Orcas, Great White shark, Blue whale, Leopard seal, Anaconda and much more.

Amos’s photos and essays have appeared in publications including National Geographic, Time, Life, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Le Figaro, Terra Sauvage, Airone, Der Spiegel, Unterwasser, Explorer Journal and Fifty Fathoms. He won first place twice in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the Animal Behavior category, and first place in the USA national competition 2013.


Betty Orr

Betty OrrBetty Orr is Vice-President of Dan Orr Consulting, providing a variety of services to the diving community. She recently retired from Divers Alert Network after 23 years where she was in charge of their insurance programs. Prior to coming to DAN, she worked with the Florida Department of Regulation as an agent and Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio as an Associate Professor of Biology. Betty has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology and has authored and contributed to many books and magazine articles in scuba diving, biology and general interest. She is an inaugural year member of The Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Dan Orr

Dan Orr

Dan Orr is President of Dan Orr Consulting, LLC, which provides expertise to the global diving community. He retired as President of Divers Alert Network (DAN), the world’s largest diving safety organization and Chairman of the Board of DAN’s international organization. In his 23 years at DAN, he guided the development and implementation of a wide array of training and education programs and helped DAN focus on its worldwide diving safety mission. He currently serves on the Boards of non-profit and for-profit organizations including the Historical Diving Society, the WCH Media Group, the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences, and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association.

He has published and co-authored over 100 articles and a dozen books and manuals including:  Scuba Diving Safety, Pocket Guide to First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries; Pocket Guide for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries; and the DAN Oxygen First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries Training Manual.

He has been honored by his peers by being the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors including the NOGI Award in Sports/Education, the Leonard Greenstone Award for Diving Safety, the Our World-Underwater Award, Beneath the Sea’s Diver of the Year, the Wyland Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement and the 2012 DEMA Reaching Out Award.

Jess Rosas

Jess RosasJess Rosas is a Los Angeles County Instructor who been involved with the 3Rs program for the past 15 years and is the Lead Instructor for the 3Rs for the Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation Underwater Unit, a role he has had for the past 8 years. His work with the 3Rs has been profiled in California Diver and NAUI Sources magazines. Jess has also served as a Board Member of the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Association and is an active staff volunteer for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks & Recreation Underwater Unit assisting with the Advanced Diver Program (ADP), the Underwater Instructor Certification Course (UICC), and Skin Diver programs.
Jess has been recognized for his service to L.A. County Programs as a recipient of the “Outstanding Instructor” award, given by the Los Angeles County Instructor Association. Jess is also an active instructor with NAUI & PADI.

Andy Sallmon and Allison Vitsky Sallmon

Andy Sallmon and Allison VitskyAndy Sallmon and Allison Vitsky Sallmon are a photojournalism/photography team that has been working together since 2010. Individually, their work has been recognized in international underwater and nature photography competitions, featured on the walls of aquariums and museums, and published in books and magazines on diving, nature, and photography. Their images and articles are among the most published in North American diving media today. The two combined have over 50 years of recreational and technical diving experience with more than 10,000 dives all over the world, however, their favorite place to dive is the rich, temperate water of their home state: California. Andy and Allison live in San Diego.

See more of Andy’s work at www.seait.com and Allison’s work at www.avitsky.com

Dale and Kim Sheckler

Dale and Kim ShecklerDale Sheckler has been actively diving California since 1973, Kim since 1982. The couple founded California Diving News in 1984 and published and edited the magazine until December of 2011. They are now contributing writers for the publication. They have also authored many books including Southern California’s Best Beach Dives and Diving and Snorkeling Guide to the Channel Islands. In 2012 they were presented with the California Scuba Service Award for their many years contributing to the California diving community.

Captain Patrick Smith

Patrick SmithCaptain Patrick Smith is a maritime historian and researcher who has been working in underwater archaeology for over a quarter century author of many articles in such publications as California Diving News, California Diver, Skin Diver Magazine, Pacific Diver, Underwater USA, Los Angeles Times Magazine and Sub Aqua Journal. Co-author of the standard guide to local shipwrecks Shipwrecks of Southern California, he also works closely with The National Park Service and NOAA supporting shipwreck management with in Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. A NAUI instructor from 1979, he spends as much time underwater as he possibly can but he gives surface interval time to research and presentations to both general and academic audiences.

Marty Snyderman

Marty SnydermanMarty Snyderman is one of 63 people inducted into the Dive Equipment and Marketing’s (DEMA) SCUBA diving Hall of Fame, and a proud recipient of the DEMA Reaching Out Award. Marty is an EMMY Award winning cinematographer, still photographer, author and speaker specializing in the marine environment. He is the Marine Life Editor of Dive Training magazine, authoring at least three columns a month in every issue, including the Marine Life column entitled What’s That? Marty serves as the Senior Editor for California Diving News and writes extensively about California Diving. He teaches underwater photography seminars in dive centers in North America and at destinations around the globe.

Dr. Tabby Stone

Dr. Stone is a retired pediatrician in the Los Angeles area. He has been an avid diver since his initial certification in 1979. Shortly after that, he developed an interest in diving medicine. He is a past president of the Pacific Chapter of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and wrote the Medical Facts column for Discover Diving magazine from 1988 to 1999.

Karen Straus

Karen StrausKaren Straus was born in Southern California and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa.

She was certified as a SCUBA diver in 1968. In 1970 she became an L.A. County Underwater Instructor (19 U.I.C.C.), and cross-certified as an instructor with NAUI and PADI. For 10 years she taught swimming, life-saving, and skin and scuba diving in Orange County, California. During these years she traveled extensively in Baja California seeking out dive sites. She also began writing about and photographing marine life for diving publications.

Karen worked with several independent filmmakers as a producer, writer, and photographer on network nature documentaries. Her credits include “Forbidden Depths,” about assessing marine life stocks in post-Cold War Cuba; “Secrets of the Humpback Whale,” filmed in Hawaii and Alaska, and “First Dogs,” about presidential pets in the White House, all for Discovery Channel; “Moose on the Loose,” about man and moose interactions in urban Alaska; “WildLife Adventures: Truk Lagoon: Underwater Odyessey”; “Search for the Shinohara”, about the World War II Japanese submarine I-169, which the film team discovered in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia; and “Sea of Eden”, A short documentary about the first divers exploring Palau, Micronesia.

Karen is a free-lance editor, writer and photographer, specializing in birds and marine life. She was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2011 and is a long-time board member and officer with the San Diego Undersea Film Exhibition. She and her husband, the writer and photographer Eric Hanauer, travel the world looking for marine life and birds to photograph in digital stills and 4K video.


Mark Strickland

MarkStricklandMark Strickland’s connection with the sea includes 10,000+ dives and careers as lifeguard, captain, dive instructor and cruise director. An accomplished underwater photographer and passionate conservationist, his editorial credits include several books, periodicals like BBC Wildlife, Geo, National Geographic World, Nature’s Best, Natural History, Outside and major dive magazines. His images have also been featured at the Smithsonian Institute, United Nations Visitor Center, and galleries including G2 in Venice, CA. Mark serves in various roles at Bluewater Photo, and leads international trips each year. Current projects include collaborations with photographer Chris Huss on several traveling photo exhibits including one entitled Ocean Visions.

Devon Tompkins

Devon Tompkins is the owner/operator of Pacific Housing Repair and began shooting underwater photos in 1979. His diving experience encompasses recreational, commercial, and scientific diving. The preeminent underwater housing service and repair technician for the past 17 years, his company is the warranty repair facility for Aquatica and the Sea & Sea Service Center for North America. Devon’s u/w photographic interest concentrates on the realm of extreme light spectrum imaging, untraviolet and infrared.

Bonnie Toth

Bonnie Toth
Bonnie Toth is creative director and owner of Bonnie Toth Advertising & Design in San Clemente, CA. For more than 30 years, she has shared her passion and creativity, elevating the marketing world through outstanding visual communications and advancing exploration of the undersea world through her deep commitment to diving and leadership in the industry. Over the last decade, Bonnie has volunteered countless hours behind the scenes to promote, grow, and raise awareness for the Women Divers Hall of Fame, twice chairing its board of trustees and currently serving as president.

Karen Van Hoesen, M.D.

Karen Van HoesenKaren Van Hoesen, M.D. is one of the leading authorities on diving medicine and physiology.  Dr. Van Hoesen is a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego and is board certified in both Emergency Medicine and Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine.  She received her BS degree in Zoology from UC Davis and her MD degree from Duke University Medical School in 1988. She has been on faculty at UCSD in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Division of Hyperbaric Medicine since 1993 and as Director of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship at UCSD since 1998. She is Director of the UCSD Diving Medicine Clinic working to improve diver health and fitness and keeping divers safe.  Dr. Van Hoesen has served on the board of directors of DAN and UHMS. Dr. Van Hoesen has published over 30 original research papers, book chapters, and abstracts and is a frequent speaker on diving medicine.  She has been a NAUI diving instructor since 1983, 2014 DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year, 1988 Our World Underwater Scholarship Recipient, and inaugural member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.


Bruce Watkins

Bruce Watkins

Bruce Watkins is a photojournalist specializing in marine topics. Over five hundred of his articles and thousands of his photographs have appeared in national and international periodicals. He is a regular contributor to California Diving News and the author of “A Diver’s Guide to Monterey County,” “A Diver’s Guide to Northern California,” and “California Abalone Diving,” published by Saint Brendan Corp.


Richard Woulfe

Richard Woulfe
Richard has over 33 years of dive travel experience. He was certified as an Open Water Scuba Instructor when he was 20 and has logged more than 5000 dives in over 50 destinations around the world. These destinations include the Maldives, Cuba, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Cocos Island, Galapagos, most areas of Indonesia, the Philippines, Sipadan/Mabul, Palau, Japan, Colombia, Cozumel, Bonaire, and Belize. Richard is an expert on marketing and selling adventure trips to remote dive and snorkel locations. He travels an average of 200 days a year. In 2012, he started full time travel around the World and has dived extensively in Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Oman and Cuba. Rich is and avid water sports and fitness/wellness enthusiast. He spends extended periods of time in Thailand, Texas, California and Chicago.


Todd Winner and Michael Zeigler

Todd WinnerMichael ZeiglerBased in Southern California, Todd Winner and Michael Zeigler have over 30 years of combined diving and under image-making experience. They specialize in producing stunning video and still imagery for their clients, as well as leading both domestic and international expeditions. Todd and Michael are proud members of the Ocean Artists Society, and their award-winning visual content has been seen around the globe. Locally, they are available for individual or group lessons to help you take your imagery to the next level.