Seminar Speakers

At Scuba Show, scuba experts and industry professionals lead intimate and interactive sessions on all aspects of diving.

Here are the bios of our 2023 speakers. We bring together notable talent from across the industry to give engaging presentations. Each speaker has a unique background and a passion for diving.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Gretchen M. Ashton

Gretchen M. Ashton, CFT, SFT, SFN, SSC, NBFE, is an advanced scuba diver, nitrox diver, paddler, sailor and fitness professional with more than 70,000 one-to-one and group training sessions. She is registered with the National Board of Fitness Examiners, is an International Sports Sciences Association Preferred Education Provider and Elite Trainer which includes credentials as a personal trainer, specialist in fitness therapy, fitness nutrition, strength and conditioning, arthritis and boxing exercise. As a lifetime drug free strength athlete Gretchen set 21 World and 21 American records and is the second woman inducted into the AAU Power Lifting Hall of Fame. Gretchen is founder of ScubaFit LLC, and developed the ScubaFit®, FitDiver®, DiveFit® and SurfWalkingexercise programs for divers, instructors and water sports enthusiasts. She co-authored the PADI ScubaFit® Diver Distinctive Specialty, co-designed FitDiver® mobile fitness apps, and publishes FitDiver®Magazine. She shares her fitness message with the diving clubs, is an Expert Speaker for Los Angeles County Scuba Advanced Diver Program and Underwater Instructor Certification Course, at the Scuba Show, U.S. Dive Shows, and dive medicine conferences. Gretchen is a brand ambassador for Mobby’s and a mentor with Water Women, Inc.  Her writing includes Fitness Editor or contributor for World’s Best Dives, Unified Team Diving Journal, California and Florida Diver Magazine, X-Ray Mag, Scuba Sport Magazine, Alert Diver United States and Asia-Pacific, Divetime.com, ScubaBoard, Scuba Fitness Examiner at Examiner.com and her ScubaFit® blog. She is recognized by the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports for inspiring and innovative accomplishments in fitness and in the Margaritaville Key West website culinary column.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Jeffrey Bozanic

Jeffrey Bozanic is a technical diving instructor and research scientist. As an instructor and marine scientist, Jeff has participated or lead over 70 diving expeditions during the past 40 years, to places like Palau, Canary Islands, Clipperton Island, the Red Sea, and Mexico. From 1989-1992 he oversaw scientific diving operations in Antarctica as part of the U.S. Antarctic Program. He has been associated with the Marine Research Development Foundation since 1985 as an aquanaut and instructor. His contributions to underwater sciences were recognized by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences’ Conrad Limbaugh Award for Scientific Diving Leadership in 2015.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Francois Burman

Francois Burman, Pr. Eng., M.Sc., is the vice president of safety services at DAN. He is responsible for all DAN’s safety and accident-prevention initiatives as well as the DAN Recompression Chamber Network. He has traveled around the world to conduct safety assessments at facilities used to treat injured divers and has written two books: The Risk Assessment Guide for Dive Operators and Professionals and The Risk Assessment Guide for Recompression Facilities.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Brett Eldridge

Brett has lived in California most of his life in both SoCal and NorCal. He spent 20+ years in the Bay Area starting and working at high-tech cybersecurity startup companies and “semi-retired” 5 years ago. He moved back to the OC area and currently lives in Newport Coast. He is a technical rebreather diver and has spent the past three years during Covid exploring the local wrecks and finding and identifying some new wrecks. He joined The Explorers Club in 2021 as a Member National. He writes about his wreck dives and explorations at http://wreckedinmyrevo.com

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Jeff Erway

Jeff Erway is a Senior biologist for QK Inc. He has a Masters degree in marine biology, and wildlife biology and has been an active recreational diver and scientific diver since 1989. Jeff is an authorized biologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Federal Department of Wildlife.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Bob Evans

Most know Bob Evans from Force Fin®, created for his >5,000 logged dives as an underwater photographer. His work from the California Channel Islands and the 7-years he was permitted to dive beneath the Pacific Offshore Platforms is widely published. His designs exhibited in museums, including, LA A&D, MOMA, and the Met. His SCUBA career earned him a NOGI from the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences and Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year in Science. Brooks Institute of Photography granted him an honorary Master of Science for extraordinary contributions to Photography, Art, and Science.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Jami Leslie Feldman

Jami Leslie Feldman is a southern California based photographer, avid scuba diver, and Divemaster. Her photography passion began around age 11 in a black and white darkroom class. That inevitably evolved into underwater photography when she was scuba certified in 2008. She loves the beauty of the underwater world, the challenge of cold water diving, and the creative outlet it brings. Her goal on social media is to help inspire, educate and promote ocean conservation efforts through photography and video. And make you smile with a few goofy posts in between. Follow along on her social media channels to see what’s happening down in southern California! Dive reports, animal sightings, tips & tricks, and behind the scenes!

Instagram: @UnderwaterPaparazzi

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Mel Futrell

Mel Futrell is a PADI-certified open-water diver with additional Nitrox and Buoyancy Control training. As an instrument-rated pilot and aviation instructor who has been flying for 27 years, she also teaches Human Factors at Glendale College in the Pilot Training program. Upon earning her PADI-certification in 2012, Mel began investigating human factors in the diving field, her pursuits eventually leading her thousands of miles away across the pond to the UK and Gareth Lock. Mel also serves as an editor for the academic Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Armando Gonzalez

Armando Gonzalez has been in the commercial diving industry for over 18 years. He is the host of “The Bottom Dwellers Dive Shack” diving podcast and a senior dive supervisor for Moffat and Nichol Engineers in Long Beach, CA.

He has worked primarily as an inland heavy construction and bridge inspection diver. His work underwater has taken him all across the country working on the Nation’s infrastructure. He is experienced and proficient in most tools and skills underwater such as exothermic burning, welding, non-destructive testing. pile driving, etc.

His show, “The Bottom Dwellers Dive Shack”, hosted alongside John Villarreal, (a 14+ year commercial diver for the Port of Long Beach), has gained the reputation of being a great educational outlet with a fun and honest look into the commercial diving industry. Though sometimes crass and unabashed they have quickly become a good source for diving entertainment worldwide. The show can be found on all podcast platforms, such as Spotify, and on their website at TheBottomDwellers.com.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Eric Hanauer

Eric Hanauer is a widely published writer and photographer, author of five books and hundreds of articles in dive publications worldwide. In 2019, he was awarded a NOGI in the field of sport and education. He is a retired professor of kinesiology at Cal State Fullerton ,where he founded the scuba program and certified over 2000 students. As a swimming coach, he developed the grab start, now used by competitive swimmers everywhere. Over the past decade, he has turned his focus on video. His work has been shown in festivals, online, and on broadcast TV.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Karl Huggins

Karl 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.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Capt. John Kades

Captain 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.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Don Kinney

Don Kinney, Owner/Course Developer/Instructor of Cylinder Training Services, started formally working with and filling high pressure cylinders in 1991. With his background in public safety, he continued to gain knowledge in the field of high-pressure cylinders and began to develop training programs. He has developed programs for agencies which include Eddy Current testing (2003), SCBA, Fire Department (2004) and a Fire Safety Seminar program (2004). Don developed a private visual inspection program covering cylinders, valves, cleaning, and compressors in 2011. At this time, he realized that inspectors needed a source for affordable high quality inspection tools. His tools are designed for the high pressure cylinder industry to assist in determining damage and ensuring cylinders remain safe. In 2014 Don developed an inspection program for an International Training organization where he published a manual and helped develop their on-line training program.

Don continues to dedicate himself to safety in the high-pressure cylinder industries. He is continually updating his visual inspection program and has authored books in Fill Station safety and developed training programs focused on facility safety. He prides himself on understanding the client and their requirements which results in providing this training program designed to keep them safe and potentially save them thousands of dollars.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Ken Kurtis

Ken 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.

Dan Orr

Dan Orr

Dan Orr is retired from the position of President of Divers Alert Network (DAN) where he helped DAN focus on its worldwide diving safety mission. Prior to coming to DAN, he worked and taught recreational diving in a retail store, developed and implemented course curricula in the academic environment, collected data and supervised research efforts in the field of science diving, tested diving equipment for military contractors. He has published and co-authored over 200 articles and a dozen books and manuals including:  101 Tips for Recreational Scuba Divers, 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 also been 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 ICON Award for Lifetime Achievement, the NAUI Hall of Honor, the Hall of Fame for Divers with Disabilities, the DEMA Reaching Out Award and Dan is an Inductee into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Faith Ortins

Faith — Educator, Explorer, Thermal Expert, Expedition Leader — has spent her life educating people about diving through her love and enthusiasm for the ocean. Whether as a biology teacher, Dive Master, dive store retailer, charter operator, equipment manufacturer and distributor, or expedition leader, she inspires people and instills in them a passion for diving in all its forms. In early 1990’s, she worked with DUI to develop the first women’s drysuits before becoming DUI’s VP of Sales and Marketing for 20 years. She created the DUI DOG Rally and Demo Tour Program which promoted local diving facilities across the US, teaming dive retailers together while divers test dive DUI products. She now is the co-owner of Blue Green Expeditions which guides expeditions to all the oceans on the planet including multiple polar expeditions. Certified in 1979, she has over 6000 dives including 1000 plus technical and polar dives.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Andrew Pettit

Andrew Pettit is a project scientist and graduate student with the Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory at the UCSB Marine Science Institute. He leads the Spotting Giant Sea Bass Project seeking to answer important questions regarding the population, spatial patterns, and ecology of the giant sea bass. He is an avid diver and has worked as an AAUS certified scientific diver at UC Santa Barbara since 2020 conducting research along the California coast and Northern Channel Islands.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Mark Rausch

Mark is a Native of the State of Michigan a retired Healthcare Engineer, a Professional Engineer, and US Air Force veteran.  He holds a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, is certified as a Project/Program Manager, and lectures at the School of Nursing, University of Michigan.  Mark is also a 4th-year doctoral student studying disability and leadership in the recreational sport of scuba diving.

Founder of Poseidon Handicap Scuba Adventures, Mark is a Handicap Scuba Association (HSA) Course Director Trainer, and PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialties Instructor

After Mark’s son was born with a disability (and subsequent passing) he traveled the world sharing the Handicap Scuba Association program into the lives of other people, so they can enrich the life of another disabled individual through the recreational sport of Scuba Diving.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Jess Rosas

Jess Rosas is an active County of Los Angeles SCUBA &  Skin/Freedive Instructor who been involved with training and educating SCUBA divers, freedivers and dive leaders in local oceanographic patterns and processes for safe exploration of the coastal and offshore island waters of Los Angeles County for the past 26 years through emphasis and practice of critical watermanship skills, repetitive acclimation and exposure to the differing seasonal turbulence patterns of the Los Angeles County nearshore coastal environment.

He has been an active volunteer with the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreation Underwater Unit Programs for the past 26 years as lead instructor trainer for the Underwater Instructor Certification Course (UICC), program director/lead instructor for the Rocks, Rips & Reefs (“3Rs”) program, and a lead instructor for the Advanced Diver Program (ADP). Jess is a regular contributor for user feedback for the Scripps Institute of Oceanography Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP).

His work with the Los Angeles County Underwater Unit programs has been profiled in California Diver and NAUI Sources magazines, and he is also an active speaker to various dive clubs and organizations.

Jess has also served as a Board Member of the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Association.

Jess has been recognized for his service to the County of Los Angeles Underwater Unit programs as a recipient of the prestigious Conrad Limbaugh Award, and the “Outstanding Instructor” award, given by the Los Angeles County Instructor Association.  Jess is also a NAUI instructor & NAUI Instructor Trainer

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Andy Sallmon and Allison Vitsky Sallmon

Andy Sallmon and Allison Vitsky Sallmon are a photography/writing team that has been working together since 2010. Individually and together, their work has been recognized in dozens of international underwater and nature photography competitions, graced the walls of aquariums and museums, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Smithsonian Institute, and extensively published in magazines and books on diving, nature, and photography. Additionally, Allison is the founder and president of Dive into the Pink, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the diving community to join the fight against cancer, and she is a proud member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Andy has been a Master Instructor for over 40 years and has trained and certified over 2000 divers to various levels since 1981. He specializes in teaching underwater photography and has worked with hundreds of students, including the US Navy’s Coronado NAS Fleet Combat Camera Unit.

 The two combined have over 70 years of recreational and technical diving experience with more than 10,000 dives all over the world, though their favorite place to dive is the rich, temperate water of California.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Charlotte Seid, PhD

Charlotte Seid, PhD, is a museum scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. She manages the Benthic Invertebrate Collection, a repository of preserved seafloor specimens used for research and education around the world. Charlotte has been diving since 2003 including AAUS Scientific Diver Certification, although much of her work explores deep-sea habitats far beyond scuba depths. She has spent 136 total days at sea on research ships photographing, documenting, and preserving marine specimens.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Dale and Kim Sheckler

Dale 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 also founded the Scuba Show in 1987 and produced it successfully until 2011. Kim and Dale have 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 of tremendous service to the California diving community.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Marty Snyderman

An inductee into DEMA’s SCUBA diving Hall of Fame, Marty Snyderman is a proud recipient of DEMA’s 2008 Reaching Out Award. He is also an EMMY Award winning cinematographer, still photographer, author and speaker specializing in the marine environment. Marty is being honored by the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences in the field of the Arts as the 2018 NOGI recipient. As he has been for many years, Marty serves as the Marine Life Editor and columnist for Dive Training magazine and as the Senior Editor and columnist for California Diving News.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Jim & Pat Stayer

The Stayers, Explorer Club Fellows and Boston Sea Rovers Associate Members, are well-known underwater filmmakers dedicated to sharing shipwrecks, animal behavior, and remote dive destinations around the world. Jim & Pat have discovered several historic shipwrecks, co-authored 3 books, produced hundreds of multimedia presentations, and their footage has appeared on numerous major networks worldwide.  They have directed several evening film festivals and are popular presenters across North America. The couple has been diving for 47 years and ran a charter boat on the Great Lakes.  Jim is a USCG Captain and Pat is in the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Together they have led an amazing life of adventure.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Karen Straus

Karen Straus started diving in 1968 and completed her Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor Course (19 UICC) in 1970. She taught swimming, life-saving, skin and scuba diving for many years. At the same time she began writing about and photographing marine life. She worked as a newspaper and magazine photojournalist and as a field producer /writer on television nature documentaries. She served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Undersea Exhibition for many years and worked at the San Diego Audubon Society, organizing its annual bird festival and running birding tours. She was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2011.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Mark Strickland

Mark Strickland’s life-long connection with the sea has included 10,000+ dives and careers as ocean lifeguard, captain, scuba instructor, and live-aboard cruise director. An accomplished underwater photographer and passionate conservationist, his editorial credits include several books, periodicals like BBC Wildlife, Conde Nast, Geo, National Geographic World, Nature’s Best, Natural History, Outside and most major dive magazines. Mark is also co-author and primary photographer of Lonely Planet’s award-winning book, “Diving and Snorkeling Thailand”. His images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution, United Nations Visitor Center, and galleries including G2 in Venice, CA. Mark currently serves in various roles at Bluewater Photo, including leading international trips each year to his favorite dive destinations.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Bruce Sudweeks

Bruce Sudweeks lives and dives in the Monterey Bay area and his passion is underwater photography. If the ocean conditions are not suitable for diving, you might find him snorkeling in the creek that flows past his home in the redwood forest. His closest and dearest neighbors are the steelhead trout in the creek. His first dive computer was a NAUI dive table. You can read his monthly Central California diving article in the California Diving News. Bruce has published four ocean-based children’s books complete with original poetry.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Amanda Van Diggelen

Amanda Van Diggelen is a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Scientist. She has worked for CDFW since 2014 when she joined the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Management Program. She received her SCUBA certification in 2010 during her undergraduate degree and is now a scientific diver with CDFW. She has experience conducting dive surveys inside and outside of MPAs, as well as diving for fun. She has seen firsthand the difference more than 10-years of protection has brought to California’s MPAs, and loves to spend time diving at the Northern Channel Islands.

This image portrays Seminar Speakers by Scuba Show | June 1 & 2, 2024.

Gil Zeimer

Gil Zeimer is an award-winning freelance advertising writer, journalist, and blogger with a passion for travel writing. A San Francisco native, he was PADI-certified in 1985, has dived in three oceans, and prefers warm water.

He has published more than 2,600 blogs. Over 1,600 of them have been about travel, food, wine, and shopping, including more than 175 scuba-related websites, newsletters, and articles. His stories have appeared in Scuba Times, DAN Alert Diver, Adventure Journal, Sport Diver Interactive, Dive Pacific and Asian Diver, Dive Travel, S.F. Chronicle, L.A. Times, and Marin Independent Journal.

He lives in Tiburon, California. Read more at https://zeimer.com/what-i-write/travel-copywriter/scuba-articles-copywriting/

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