2020 Honoree

Introducing the 2020 California Scuba Service Award Recipient: Marty Snyderman


The California Scuba Service Award honors an individual that has had a profound influence on the California diving scene. It is awarded each year at the Scuba Show’s Saturday evening fundraiser. Sadly, with the show’s COVID-19 cancellation we couldn’t present it to him in person, so it will be awarded to Marty at Scuba Show 2022 as a heartfelt thanks from the community.


Born in 1949 in landlocked Little Rock, Arkansas, Marty grew up in the generation of kids that fell in love with the idea of scuba diving and becoming an ocean explorer because of the television series Sea Hunt and numerous Jacques Cousteau television specials. Marty’s uncle, Herbert Storthz, a skilled fisherman and hunter who served as the Arkansas Sportsman for Sears and Roebuck, introduced Marty to the outdoors. For his 10th birthday, Marty asked his parents for an overnight trip on a charter fishing boat in Panama City, Florida, and that present changed Marty’s life when he watched the fishermen shoot a hooked shark because it might steal the fish they were reeling in.

The night before those same beer drinking, cigar smoking, poker players had become Marty’s overnight heroes while they greatly increased his vocabulary, but as soon as they started calling on the crew to kill the shark, a stunningly gorgeous animal that Marty could see was fighting for its life, Marty could only smell the stale beer and body odor of his previous heroes as he ran to the head to cry his eyes out when the shark was shot. Marty had already fallen in love with all things ocean, and that day he knew he was destined to become an ocean explorer of some kind.

After graduating Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1971, Marty headed to Ft. Lauderdale, FL so he could become a certified scuba diver. Soon after, he flew to Puerto Rico with $17 in his pocket to go to work on a sailing ship as a crew member, where he was paid $3.33 a day. He soon became the ship’s diver and took guests snorkeling and scuba diving.

Marty decided to become a diving instructor and in January of 1975 he enrolled in the NASDS Diving Instructors College in San Diego. He graduated first in his class, despite having made only 27 scuba dives in his life. The diving world was a very different place in those days. Upon graduating, Marty caught a major break in his life when he landed a job as an instructor at Chuck Nicklin’s San Diego Diving Locker. In its heyday, the Diving Locker was a virtual university of diving and underwater image making, evidenced by the fact that six people who worked there during Marty’s employment were later honored with a prestigious NOGI award. That is also where Marty met and became close friends with Howard and Michele Hall. Marty placed Michele in Howard’s scuba class, they soon began to date, got married, and became preeminent underwater filmmakers.

Howard and Marty learned underwater photography and chased their shared dream of becoming professional underwater photographers, filmmakers, and authors. In 1978 they worked together on their first major film, a one-hour long, major network television special directed by legendary filmmaker Stan Waterman. The film was about sharks. After having their own 16 mm underwater camera housings built, Howard and Marty shot, directed, and produced numerous films. Marty’s film credits include 17 episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and numerous films produced by and for National Geographic, the BBC, Discovery Channel, ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, Audubon, Smithsonian, Hardy Jones and Julia Whitty, Barbara Leibovitz, Jack McKenney Productions, Thomas Horton and Associates, Solid Entertainment, Howard Hall Productions, and behind the scenes for an IMAX film.

During the early 1980s he partnered with his close friend Bob Cranston on a business taking caged divers offshore to see and photograph blue and shortfin mako sharks. After having worked as a cameraman filming great white sharks at Mexico’s Guadalupe Island, Marty and Bob led the first commercial trip for sport divers to the island in search of great white sharks.

In the late 1990s Marty co-produced ‘View from the Cage’, a film about his work with sharks for the Discovery Channel. The film became the second most widely watched film in the network’s Shark Week series. He also co-produced The Secret World of Sharks and Rays for the PBS series Nature, which aired in 1998.

Marty has been honored with an EMMY award for his cinematography.

Marty has authored hundreds of articles for a wide variety of publications, a partial list that includes National Geographic, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Skin Diver magazine (where he wrote a monthly photography column), Ocean Realm, Sport Diver, Discover Diving, SCUBA Times, Underwater USA, and many major publications, natural history museums, and aquaria, including the Monterrey Bay, Shedd, National, Seattle, Shedd, Miami aquaria, and more.

Marty is the author of ten books that deal with a variety of marine life-oriented topics. He also worked for Nikon Inc. teaching courses at destinations around the world and authored a course for Sea&Sea USA.

Marty has been a contributor to Dive Training magazine for years and as their Marine Life Editor has authored at least three columns, one focusing on still photography underwater, a second on the natural history of marine creatures, and a third in which he shares things he has learned in life because of his involvement in diving. The magazine’s publisher calls this column the heart of the magazine.

In the late 1990s, Marty produced Depth Perception, the first online course on underwater photography. He has served as an Advisor for the Shark Research Institute and is on the Board of Trustees for the REEF Education Environmental Foundation. He has also been an active member of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society since 1975, and the Senior Editor of California Diving News since 2011. Marty is one of two on staff Photography Ambassadors at the Philippines based Atlantis Liveaboard and Resorts, an Aqua Lung Ambassador, and NAUI’s designated Photography Professional.

In 2008, Marty was honored with DEMA’s Reaching Out Award, and was the recipient of the Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences NOGI award in the Arts in 2018.


As for the rest of his life, Marty has a deep love for baseball, is a sports fan, loves Arkansas BBQ, and enjoys birding, hiking, science, and getting together with his friends. He lives in San Diego with his longtime partner Lyn Temple.

And anything else Marty? As a kid he made his Little League All-Star Traveling Team as a shortstop when he was only 11, had a cocker spaniel named Birch, and my favorite color is blue. Didn’t want to leave anything out!

For Marty’s history, service, outreach, influence and inspiration to the national and California diving community, we proudly and humbly present him with the California Scuba Service Award.

Previous Honorees


Leslie Leaney

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2022-honoree/


Marty Snyderman

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2020-honoree/


Glen Fritzler

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2019-honoree/


Lloyd Bridges

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2018-honoree/


Howard and Michelle Hall | Torrance R. Parker

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2017-honoree/


Zale Parry

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2016-honoree/


Chuck Nicklin

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2015-honoree/


Dottie Frazier

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2014-honoree/


Dr. Samuel Miller III

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2013-honoree/


Dale and Kim Sheckler

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2012-honoree/


Dr. Bill Bushing

Link: https://scubashow.com/california-scuba-service-award/2011-honoree/




Sal Zammitti


Karl Huggins


Steve Benavides


Dave Bunch


Dick Anderson


Bob Given


Bill Wilson


Ken Kurtis & Billy Wright


Lorraine Sadler


Jim Hall


Bonnie Cardone


Steve Madaras


Dick Long


Roy Hauser


Nick Icorn


Bobby Meistrell


Roger Hess


Al Bruton


Bill Johnson


Andy Pilmanis


Captain Eddie Tsukamura
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