programs blog

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  • January 27, 2020 3:42 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Gear Safety & How does the scuba biz really work?
    By Geoffrey May

    Geoffrey May has been scuba diving since the age of 11 years old when he was certified by Norine Rouse in West Palm Beach in 1982. An experienced cave and technical diver, Geoffrey is a dynamic, top-performing, ethical and disciplined professional. He is a Gainesville, Florida native that graduated from the University of Florida. His work and adventure has led him to over 40 countries on 6 continents. Geoffrey has created tremendous success in the global watersports industry over the past 20 years designing, sourcing and selling products. From 2011 until 2019 he spearheaded and managed an industry leading online retail fulfillment center based in Pompano Beach. This high volume activity allowed him to acquire an extensive network of manufacturers in Asia, Europe and the USA and establish himself as a premier international buyer. Combining his decades of knowledge with his multi-national team, Geoffrey founded May Lion Group (a specialty product procurement and consulting company) in January 2020. (mayliongroup.com)

    His presentation will give us a brief review of annual gear safety and service as the dive season kicks in gear soon. But he will also give a "Behind the scenes" look into the world of scuba gear and manufacturers. Come ready to ask the questions you always wanted to know about the scuba business but could never get the answer.

    • Why is one regulator 3 times the cost of the other?
    • Why does my BC not sell replacement parts?
    • What does lifetime warranty REALLY mean?
    • Do I need the expensive dive computer to be safe?

    Geoffrey Tells it like it is and holds no punches.

  • December 18, 2019 5:50 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Upcoming Overseas Dive Trips
    by Nils Jacobsen

    Please come to the meeting to get details about the trips being advertised for signups in 2020. You will be able to signup at this meeting.

    • Little Cayman Beach Resort, June 27 - July 4, 2020
    • Belize Aggressor, August 15 - 22, 2020

    At the time of this writing, there is still a single male spot available for Fiji on the Nai'a liveaboard, March 14 - 21, 2020.

    Keep these future trips in your mind and your calendar for planning purposes. Nils expects the Solomons trip to be opened for signups in March of 2020. He expects the Cayman Aggressor trip to be opened for signups in August of 2020.

    • Solomons: Bilikiki liveaboard, May 22 - June 1
    • Cayman Aggressor, July 10 - 17
    • Raja Ampat/Triton Bay: Damai liveaboard, approx. March 13 - 24, 2023 (exact date to be determined later)


  • October 30, 2019 11:34 AM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    My Most Memorable Dives Around the World

    By Bill Watts

    Long time USA Dive Club member Bill Watts will be presenting a program talking about his most memorable dives around the world. Bill has been diving for 60 years. He came to Pompano Beach Florida in 1959 at age 12 and purchased his first set of dive equipment by age 13. Bill estimates he has made over 3000 dives around the world. From the shores of Florida to places like Cocos Island off Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador or the Lembeh Straights of Indonesia, Bill has seen it all. He will be talking about some of his most memorable dives and why they were so memorable. Should be an action packed fun adventure with photos and memories.


  • September 15, 2019 4:10 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Our speaker is Susana Ramirez, Founder of Save The Sharks

    Susana Ramirez (Navajas) grew up around the water, and always had a deep passion for the ocean and its' inhabitants. While doing her undergraduate studies, Susana helped graduate students with shark research in the everglades. It was during that time that she fell in love with sharks, and she vowed to do all that she could to help the animals out. She has since volunteered for many non-profit organizations and has gained valuable knowledge about grassroots campaigning. In 2014, she officially ran Save The Sharks full time, and has had a great deal of success. Susana has been a part of CITES implementations, she has led local and international rallies, school presentations, she has written for magazines and much more. Her hope is that Save The Sharks can inspire anyone to do something; because together, we can make a difference. [http://www.savethesharksorg.com/]


  • August 23, 2019 11:02 AM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Importance of Coral-Algal Symbiosis to the Reef Community

    By Rivah Winter, PhD

    Dr. Rivah Winter runs the Inventors in Residence Coral Reef Restoration Rivah WinterResearch Laboratory at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami, FL, where she is also a Curator of Marine Science. In partnership with Dr. Andrew Baker at the University of Miami, she works to improve the heat resistance of threatened corals used for reef restoration. She earned her PhD from UM in 2017 and her B.S. from UCSD in 2010, where she studied Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution. Rivah fell in love with the sea when she first visited an aquarium at seven years old, and she is excited to be able to work with the stellar team at Frost Science to advance the Museum's conservation program.

  • July 25, 2019 6:31 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Bylaws and Pictures

    A two-part program

    1. Bylaws Changes - We have Bylaws changes to discuss and, hopefully, approve by a vote of the members present. The reasons for making the changes are outlined briefly in the President's Waves. Members can help speed up discussions by reading the proposed changes here.
    2. Pictures - Nils Jacobsen is putting together a presentation of photos from past trips. He is working on the presentation while I write this, so I am not sure what the final result will be. It will probably include his pictures from our recent Little Cayman trip. It may include pictures from Fiji, especially if we can get another Fiji trip scheduled for 2020. If we are lucky and he can find the time, we may get to see pictures from Cuba. And he has pictures from his African safari that may also make it into the presentation.
  • May 29, 2019 1:10 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Making Friends With Sharks Without Feeding Them
    By Jim Abernethy

    Jim Abernethy, an award-winning underwater photographer, author, filmmaker and conservationist. He is a pioneer in large predatory cageless shark encounters with some of the world's most notorious sharks. Scuba diving since his youth inspired his life's mission to spread the word about the importance of worldwide ocean conservation.

    For decades, Abernethy has been running photography/video expeditions to guide encounters with the world's largest predatory sharks. He pioneered shark encounters without a cage (day and night) with tiger sharks, great hammerheads, oceanic white tips, bulls, and lemon sharks. Jim’s tireless efforts to help save sharks around the world were part of the reason why the Bahamian waters were recognized as a shark sanctuary, in July 2011. This was a huge victory for sharks around the world.

    His award-winning marine life images are represented in galleries, nature & photography magazines, as well as his stock agent, National Geographic. Raising awareness about the need for conservation remains Abernethy’s primary focus when aiming his camera at wildlife subjects. Additionally, he has launched two separate series of books, in collaboration with award-winning author Jennifer R. Nolan, that seek to educate and empower others to join in key conservation efforts.

    Abernethy has hosted and been featured in many of the world's top nature filmmakers shows, such as Imax, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel. His images are available at National Geographic Image Library. He owns the "Marine Life Art Gallery" in West Palm Beach, FL, where his captivating images and unique and educational books are available as well. When he's not below sea level, Jim is often seen piloting his flying inflatable boat (ultra-light), "Oversear," in order to capture nature at sea with his lens from an aerial perspective.

    While Abernethy is well known as a world-class photographer and passionate conservationist, it's his unique ability to bring divers up close to some of the largest predatory sharks safely, in turn inspiring them to become vocal and passionate ambassadors to save the sharks, that separates him from the rest.

    Abernethy is best known for the relentless pursuit of his life's mission: to save the planet's ocean creatures, starting with sharks, through his photography, books, films, and presentations. His colleagues have recognized Abernethy with four lifetime achievement awards for his relentless dedication to ocean conservation and the protection of sharks. He was the recipient of the Eleanor Fletcher Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award at the Go Blue Event in 2011, the Crest Award from Gumbo Limbo in 2013 and was honored with The Wyland Icon award in 2011. Last year he received the Shark-Con 2018 Conservation award for his relentless efforts saving sharks!

    Jim is the founder of three ocean conservation-based non-profits Operation Blue Pride, WildlifeVOICE and Project Seahorse for Kids. Operation Blue Pride helps veterans learn to scuba dive, while forming an army of advocates to take on ocean issues. WildlifeVOICE works with many entities, giving a voice for those who cannot speak. Presently, WildlifeVOICE is working to protect wildlife in the state of Florida from the Red Tide issues. WildlifeVOICE was the driving force in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWCC) April 2018 decision to continue protecting the critically endangered goliath grouper.

    Believing that science is critical to saving our wildlife, Jim works with a number of scientists by providing them with the resources necessary for the collection of marine science data. To date, the fields of research to which Jim’s company has been able to assist include formal and informal studies of: sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, cephalopods, reef ecosystems and coral reefs just to name a few.

    Jim lives primarily at sea, in the Bahamas, running shark expeditions and wild dolphin encounters year-round on his boat, "Shear Water." He can also be found in Mexico running eco-tourism expeditions for whale sharks and manta rays. His dive business, Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures Inc., is based in West Palm Beach, FL. For more information you are invited to visit: www.scuba-adventures.com.

  • April 26, 2019 5:34 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Dive into History with Lisa Mongelia, Executive Director at the History of Diving Museum, as she presents on the strong south Florida connection to recreational diving, marine biology, underwater photography and salvage diving long before scuba was invented!

    Lisa has been an active diver and instructor for over 40 years, enjoying all that Florida and the Caribbean has to offer, as well as exploring Lake Superior and Bonne Terre Mines. She became an instructor in 1978 and moved to Miami to work for Underwater Unlimited as their first female dive instructor. Over the course of the next several decades she taught part time while raising two sons and working as a Billing Coordinator and Records Supervisor in the law firm industry. In her spare time, Lisa wrote for DiveNewswire which later introduced her to the History of Diving Museum to cover an event. After years of volunteering, Lisa left the corporate world to come on board as the History of Diving Museum director. She leads a fantastic team that has developed new exciting community outreach events, specialized presentations, fun scavenger hunts and guided tours. The Museum also offers Museum in Motion educational outreach programs to locals schools and universities.

    Find out more about the History of Diving Museum on the website or when you dive in on your next visit to the Florida Keys, its a great way to spend a surface interval. Check the calendar and join other participants for special events. (become a member to get special discounts and help support the 501 (c)(3) non-profit)

  • March 26, 2019 6:12 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    We are very pleased to announce that Craig Jenni will be speaking to us again at our April meeting. He received formal scuba training at age 12, he started working at a dive shop at 14, became a scuba instructor at 18 and ever since has been a career dive professional. During his 30 years as a dive instructor he has certified thousands of divers and hundreds of instructors. He trained as a Navy SEAL and taught commercial diving at The Ocean Corporation. He has vast experience in recreational, technical, military, commercial, scientific and public safety diving.

    Craig is currently an instructor or instructor trainer with every major scuba certification agency in the U.S. He was formally the Executive Director of the YMCA Scuba Program, responsible for thousands of scuba instructors along with the administration of this diver training agency. He was a representative of the Recreational Scuba Training Counsel (RSTC) and authored training standards for diver education program ranging from recreational, technical, scientific, public safety and commercial diving. He has specialized qualifications including; dive medical technician, life support technician, equipment repair instructor, and forensic medical investigator. He is actively involved in teaching dive specialties such as cave, decompression, mixed gasses, semi-closed and closed-circuit rebreathers and public safety diving.

    Craig is the owner and President of Dive & Marine Consultants International (DMCI), Inc., which specializes in conducting forensic investigations of dive accidents. Since starting DMCI Craig has investigated over 600 diver fatalities and over 3600 diving and boating accidents. He conducts training seminars for PSD, law enforcement, medical examiners and emergency response personnel as to how to conduct proper dive accident investigations and autopsies. He is often called to consult domestic and foreign governments regarding diving and frequently serves as an expert witness for dive accident litigation. Craig is commonly hired to consult diver training agencies and insurance Underwriters to assess and advise them on matters pertaining to risk management.

    As a lawyer, he is of counsel with the law firm of Donna E. Albert & Associates which practices exclusively in defending dive accident lawsuits. As a diver he can be found pursuing underwater interests that most divers only read about. As a dive leader Craig is a strong proponent of maintaining fitness, currency of dive skills and utilizing proper equipment to make diving as safe as possible.

  • February 22, 2019 6:11 PM | Anonymous

    Dr. Stephen Kajiura is returning to give us more information about “Snowbird Sharks: Seasonal Abundance and Spatial Distribution of Blacktip Sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) in Southeast Florida”

    He is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University. His area of expertise is the sensory biology of sharks and rays with an emphasis on the electrosensory system. In addition to his sensory physiology research, Dr Kajiura studies the massive seasonal aggregation of blacktip sharks in southeast Florida. He incorporates aerial surveys with tagging and acoustic telemetry to document the migration of these sharks along the US eastern seaboard.

    Dr Kajiura has conducted research for various agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. He has published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has presented numerous talks at scientific conferences. He has supervised a dozen graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, and has served on numerous thesis committees for students from around the world. Dr Kajiura maintains a strong public outreach service, primarily through television documentary appearances, and has served as an elected member of the American Elasmobranch Society Board of Directors.

    Dr Kajiura received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Hawaii, a MS in Marine Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology from the University of Guelph (Canada).

    Southeast Florida experiences an enormous seasonal influx of upper trophic level marine predators each year as blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) migrate south to overwinter in nearshore waters. These sharks form aggregations ranging from a few individuals to thousands. The sharks are often found in very shallow water, only a few meters from popular swimming beaches which raises concerns about potential negative interactions. To quantify shark abundance and distribution, an aerial survey was conducted during peak season (December - April) from 2011-2017. A low altitude (150m) survey flight was flown from Government Cut (South Beach, Miami) to Jupiter Inlet at approximately biweekly (2011-2014) or weekly (2015-2017) intervals. A high definition video camera recorded a transect from the beach to approximately 200m offshore. Segments of the survey transect were demarcated by inlets, and the number of sharks found within each segment was counted to calculate shark density. During the seven year study, the greatest shark density was consistently found in February and March. Although sharks were seen throughout the entire 132km length of the survey transect, significantly greater numbers of sharks were found at the northernmost third of the transect in Palm Beach County (Boynton Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet) where densities exceeded 1,000 sharks km-2. The habitat throughout the transect is largely consistent, so it remains unclear why the sharks are not distributed farther south. Southward migrating sharks might simply stop once they reach appropriate conditions and warming oceans might eventually restrict their migration to increasingly higher latitudes.

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