To honour those who have supported, influenced, and spearheaded Asia’s Dive and conservation industry, UW360 has put together a list of significant individuals. This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it a ranking. We recognise that there are many other deserving individuals who have contributed to the industry, and we would like to thank every diver, scientist, conservationist, educator, photographer, and volunteer for their commitment to the ocean.
1. Andy Cornish
Marine Ecologist, WWF
Dr Cornish is a marine ecologist who co-authored the field-guide Reef Fishes of Hong Kong while studying for his doctorate at the University of Hong Kong. Currently, he leads WWF’s global programme, Sharks: Restoring the Balance, a major initiative in more than twelve countries to improve the management of shark and ray fisheries and tourism operations. Andy is a keen underwater photographer, and co-author of Responsible Shark & Ray Tourism: A Guide to Best Practice
2. Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Jacques-Yves Cousteau is considered the pioneer of ocean exploration and conservation, whose passion for the ocean continues today through his family. He was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, activist, innovator, inventor, author, scientific collaborator, and member of the French Academy. He co-invented the Aqualung, started a marine conservation movement and created a legacy of passion for the ocean that continues today through his family and the millions of people influenced by his work.
Fascinated by outdoor sports since young, Doudou has traveled to over a hundred countries to capture the diverse beauty of wildlife. She is experienced at underwater and wildlife photography, and has devoted herself to promoting conservation and exploration. She has also documented an ocean wildlife migration documentary with China’s CCTV. At present, she is pursuing environmental and conservation projects on social media platforms.
4-5. Ron & Valerie Taylor
Ron began diving in 1952, thereafter becoming interested in spearfishing and underwater photography. In 1965, he won the World Spearfishing Championship in Tahiti after winning the Australian Open Spearfishing Championships for four years in succession. Valerie was born in Sydney, and started diving in 1956 before being introduced to spearfishing. She eventually won several Australian championships for ladies in both spearfishing and scuba. The couple met while both were members of the St George Spearfishing Club in Sydney. They became champion spearfishers, but switched from killing sharks to filming them after becoming fascinated with marine life. They were the first people to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage – a huge milestone in ocean exploration. They were also the first to film sharks by night and were involved in the filming of the movie Jaws.
6. Richard Owen
Director, Scuba Junkie SEAS
Richard co-founded Scuba Junkie, the multi award-winning dive operator based in Sabah, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with Tino Herrmann. As a marine biologist, Richard’s passion was for Scuba Junkie to have conservation of the marine environment at the heart of its operations, and be at the forefront of sustainable and responsible dive tourism. Tino’s illustrious background as an engineer made this happen. In addition to the successful business operation, they formed the dedicated conservation arm – Scuba Junkie SEAS – which has gone from strength to strength each year. One of their proudest aspects of Scuba Junkie’s work is the success of the local DMT internship, which trains members of the local community up to Divemaster level, paid for entirely by Scuba Junkie – showcasing their commitment to engage the local community in dive careers and conservation.
7. Paul Watson
Founder, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Captain Paul Watson is a marine wildlife conservation and environmental activist. Watson was one of the founding members and directors of Greenpeace. In 1977, he left Greenpeace and founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. A renowned speaker, accomplished author, master mariner, and lifelong environmentalist, Captain Watson has been awarded many honours for his dedication to the oceans and to the planet. Among many commendations for his work, he received the Genesis Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998, was named as one of the Top 20 Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century by TimeMagazine in 2000, and was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in Washington D.C. in 2002. He was also awarded the Amazon Peace Prize by the president of Ecuador in 2007. In 2012, Captain Watson became only the second person after Captain Jacques Cousteau to be awarded the Jules Verne Award, dedicated to environmentalists and adventurers.
8. James Harvey
Operations Manager, Reef-World Foundation
As Operations Manager at Reef-World, James Harvey (JJ) has led the development of Green Fins across Asian countries since 2008, training national governments and NGO’s to manage the initiative. He is also a marine biologist and passionate diver with over 10 years of experience working in tropical marine environments across the globe. JJ has worked closely with the UN, governments, the private sector and international agencies working towards achieving a sustainable marine tourism industry with successful outcomes that are meaningful to all stakeholders.
9. Dr Larry McKenna
Founder, Save our Leatherbacks Operation
Dr Larry McKenna is a dedicated environmentalist to save the Leatherback sea turtle from its rapid spiral into extinction. Save Our Leatherbacks Operation (S.O.L.O.) had its beginnings in the spring of 2002, when Dr McKenna went in search of film file footage and photos of the Leatherback sea turtle after hearing of its rapid extinction. After three attempts to get to the remote nesting location in Indonesia, he finally succeeded in July and August. He is currently involved with conservation efforts to reverse the extinction spiral of the Pacific leatherback sea turtles over the next three years.
10. A.G Saño
AG is a conservationist and widely-published professional photographer who began his career as an assistant to art mentor Fernando Sena. He established Dolphins Love Freedom, which aims to protect dolphins and whales. AG has also undertaken assignments and environmental work with reputable NGOs and institutions and co-founded www.balyena.org, a non-profit marine mammal conservation group.
11. Chai Apale
Project Coordinator, iSeahorse – Philippines
In her role as iSeahorse Philippines coordinator, Chai manages outreach and communications for iSeahorse in the Philippines. She received a BSc in marine biology from Mindanao State University-Illigan Institute of Technology, where she studied the community structures of reef fishes. Before joining Project Seahorse, she was a coastal resource management trainer for the United States Peace Corps in the Philippines.
12-13. Rodney & Andrew Fox
Founders, Fox Shark Research Foundation
In 1963, Rodney Fox was attacked by a Great White Shark of Aldinga Beach, 50 kilometres south of Adelaide. To this day, the attack is regarded as one of the most severe ever to be survived. In total, Rodney had 462 stitches in his chest, and 92 in his right hand and arm. In an attempt to overcome his fear of sharks, Rodney came up with the idea to build a cage for humans to safely view great white sharks in their natural environment. Andrew Fox, Rodney’s eldest son, inherited his father’s affinity for sharks. In 2001, Andrew and Rodney with Dr. Rachel Robbins established the Fox Shark Research Foundation. Andrew began taking over the helm from his father, and making shark tours more of a full-time, tourist experience. Today, the cage diving is a popular tourist activity worldwide.
14. Sally Snow
Executive Director, LAMAVE
Sally Snow is a zoologist and filmmaker. She is one of four Executive Directors for the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines. A passionate science communicator, she has worked with the BBC, most recently on Blue Planet II, National Geographic and PTS. Her latest project follows the team as they travel to a sunken volcano off the Philippine mainland, to study some of the last remaining sharks in the Coral Triangle.
15. Sharon Kwok
Managing Director, WildAid Hong Kong
Born in Hong Kong, Sharon has supported numerous charities and is a member of the Society of Women Geographers, ambassador for SPCA H.K., Hong Kong Cetacean Project, and Bloom. She is also the Managing Director of WildAid HK, on the board of Mission Blue, and the Executive Director of AquaMeridian and AquaSilva, which are companies that aim to raise awareness of conservation issues globally.
16. Sir David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough studied the natural sciences at the University of Cambridge. He began his career as a producer at BBC, where he launched the successful Zoo Quest series. In 1965, Attenborough was made controller of BBC Two and later its director of programming. During his tenure, the station crossed over to colour television, and Attenborough was instrumental in expanding its natural history content. Attenborough left the BBC to begin writing and producing various series, including the smash hit Life on Earth, which set the standards for the modern nature documentary. Since then, Attenborough has written, produced, hosted and narrated countless award-winning nature-focused programmes, devoting his life to celebrating and preserving wildlife.
17. Dr Sylvia Earle
Dr Sylvia Earle is one of the most influential figures in the industry. Referred to as a “living legend” by the United States Library of Congress, and a first “hero for the planet” by Time Magazine, Sylvia is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with extensive experience as a field research scientist and government official.
18. Jose Ramos-Horta
Former President of East Timor
Jose Ramos-Horta is the former special representative to the Secretary General in Guinea Bissau, and has chaired a high-level UN panel assessing global peacekeeping missions. A former prime minister, he was the President of Timor-Leste from 2007 to 2012 – the second since its independence from Indonesia. Jose was also a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.