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Speakers


This is the fantastic group of speakers that will bring to the table exciting and new content to share and discuss with the international diving community. This list will be updated periodically.

Christine West

Christine is a polar expedition diver, naturalist, conservation photographer and videographer. She is an Explorer’s Club Fellow who has worked as a professional diver for 18 years dedicated to ocean education, exploration and safety. Christine now spends over six months per year in the field documenting stories about places that are rarely seen and yet are rapidly changing due to the warming of the Earth such as the High Canadian Arctic and Antarctica. Christine uses a variety of tools such as underwater cameras, drones and ROVs to create imagery that serve as voices for ecosystems that need immediate protection. It is important to her to not only document species presence and abundance, but to share their stories and behaviors in a memorable way that drives wider audiences, including inland communities, to care about places that may not be in their backyard but to which they influence and are connected. Christine’s passion to share the lesser-known stories continually pushes her to dive the coldest, sometimes murkiest, most remote areas on the planet.

Darcy Kieran

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~Will Rogers
Darcy has been a Course Director and scuba diving Instructor Trainer with numerous dive training agencies. He owned/managed dive shops, dive resorts, and charter boats in Canada and the USA. He’s been on the Board of Directors of DEMA. He brings with him valuable experience from other industries, including sporting goods manufacturing, radio & TV broadcasting, railroads & transportation, digital marketing agencies, and education. Darcy is an engineer, radio announcer, and author.
The Business of Diving Institute (BODI) is the brainchild of Darcy Kieran. It started in September 2000, shortly after Darcy purchased his first dive shop. At the time, he was in charge of sales for the largest division of a multi-billion dollar international transport company, and he could not understand the lack of training available to his dive store staff. And even less, the lack of dive industry market data. There were numerous dive training agencies ready to support teaching scuba divers and dive instructors, but nobody was providing sales and management training — or any other form of staff training — tailored to the dive industry. It’s to address these issues that The Business of Diving Institute was born.

Frédéric Swierczynski

Frédéric has been a French explorer and cave diver for 30 years.
He travels around the world in numerous video productions and documentaries, as well as exploring caves, wrecks, scientific research and mapping.
The highest peaks in the world or the lowest sumps underground are the answer to his curiosity.
Frédéric also likes small, “difficult” dives since he has just broken the Guinness world record for “the deepest cave dive in the world” by diving in an incredible cave dive to a depth of 308 m in November 2024.
We’ll hear about this dive, his ideation and preparations for the fair from him during this upcoming festival.

Gareth Lock

Gareth Lock is the owner & founder of The Human Diver, an organisation formed to bring human factors knowledge, experience and practice from high-risk domains and academia into the sport of diving. Since January 2016 when he formed the company, he has taught hundreds of people in face-to-face classes around the world and thousands via online and webinar-based programmes. He has published Under Pressure: Diving Deeper with Human Factors, the only textbook that looks at this topic and in May 2019, released ‘If Only…’ which looks at a tragic diving accident through the lenses of human factors and a Just Culture. Over the last 3 years he has also led two reviews of fatal military diving accidents on behalf of Defence departments, applying systems thinking and human factors.
Recognising that the need for human factors is greater than one person can deliver, he has also trained ten instructors to deliver Human Diver materials around the globe and is working with two agencies to incorporate human factors concepts and tools into instructor development and diver training materials.

Jarrod Jablonski

Jarrod Jablonski is an avid explorer, researcher, author, and instructor teaching, and diving in oceans and caves around the world. Trained as a geologist, Jarrod is the founder and president of Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). GUE is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and discovery of the aquatic realm. Jarrod is also the CEO of Halcyon Manufacturing and Extreme Exposure Adventure Center while remaining active in conservation, exploration, and filming projects worldwide. His explorations regularly place him in the most remote locations in the world, including several world record excursions at 90m/300feet during cave penetrations of nearly 10km/29,000feet. These dives include bottom times of more than 12 hours at 90m/300feet with total immersions of 30 hours. Jarrod is also an author with dozens of publications, including several books and numerous articles.

Jill Heinerth

From technical dives deep inside underwater caves to swimming inside Antarctic icebergs, Heinerth collaborates with climatologists, archaeologists, biologists, and engineers worldwide.
Jill has made TV programs for the CBC, BBC, National Geographic, consulted on movies for directors including James Cameron and produced independent films. Over 2.5 million people have learned about climate change, water advocacy, and exploration by viewing Jill’s TED Talks.
Jill was awarded Fellowships from numerous institutions including the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences, Women Diver’s Hall of Fame, National Speleological Society, WINGS WorldQuest, and Explorers Club, which honored her with the William Beebe Award. The Wall Street Journal, Oprah, and New York Times lauded Jill’s best-selling books Into the Planet and The Aquanaut. In 2024, Running Cloud Productions of Australia is releasing a feature documentary, Diving Into The Darkness, about Jill’s remarkable life.
Jill serves as a tireless advocate for conservation, climate change, and water resource protection. She works toward creating awareness and inspiring action through her writing, photography, films, social media, podcasts, and speaking engagements.

Joanna Wyrebek (JoJo)

Born in Poland and currently living in the UK. Joanna is a passionate diver who started her diving journey in 2014.
Specialising as a CCR Cave and Full Trimix Diver, Joanna primarily explores the chilly depths of the UK waters, with a particular focus for wreck and overhead diving, especially the old, flooded mines scattered across the UK.
She is one of the co – founders of ‘The Cavettes’, a women’s diving group dedicated to encouraging more women to experience the thrill and beauty of cold water and overhead diving.
JoJo deeply cares for the oceans and the marine life that lives within it. She actively participates in projects geared towards preserving our oceans, such as the Ghost Nets Malta project in September 2023.
Joanna’s also a passionate and enthusiastic storyteller, often sharing her diving experiences and showing that technical diving can be fun through various mediums.
Brand Ambassador for Seacraft, Santi, DAN Europe and Ammonite.

Joao Rodrigues

João Rodrigues [1989] is a filmmaker, photojournalist and marine biologist specialized in natural history and conservation.
During his professional career, which has taken him to dive from the icy waters of the Nordic seas to the coral reefs of the tropics, collaborated on documentaries such as “Europe ́s Wild Islands” by National Geographic Channel, “Blue Planet 2” by BBC, “Oasis – Azores Islands-North Atlantic Ocean” by NHK, “+ or – 5 mètres” by the Arte channel and “Life at the Extreme-Deep / Azores” from the iTV channel.
João Rodrigues is a contributor to magazines such as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife and Oceanographic and the director of the production company Chimera Visuals, through which he directed and produced the film “Cavalos de Guerra”, distinguished in environmental film festivals in the United States, Argentina, Mexico, England, among others. He also works as Director of Photography on nature and wildlife films from international producers, such as BBC, NHK and Bonne Pioche.
Awarded in internationally renowned photography competitions such as the European Photographer of the Year, the Underwater Photographer of the Year and the SIENA International Photo Awards in 2021, João was the first Portuguese to win first place in the prestigious competition of the London Natural History Museum, The Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
João Rodrigues’s mission is to tell stories of the oceans through what he believes to be one of the most important tools for community awareness, the visual storytelling.

Jose Ventura

Jose is the Rebreather OEM support specialist at Shearwater.
He started diving in the early 90s and has since accumulated thousands of dives around the world. He has been a dive professional for almost 25 years and is an open-circuit, closed-circuit, semi-closed-circuit, trimix, cave and wreck diving Instructor Trainer. He has/had ratings with many agencies including IANTD, SDI/TDI, NSS-CDS and PADI, and also with DAN where he is an Examiner.
His main interest is the dissemination of scuba safety and awareness through better access to information and has translated many dive manuals into the Portuguese language. He is also a passionate dry and submerged caves and mines explorer.

Kirk Krack

Kirk is multidisciplined diving professional instrumental in many innovations relating to breath-hold and freedive training. While a life-long freediver, he stated technical diving in 1992 evolving to mixed gas instructor trainer in the mid 90’s in the Cayman Islands playing in the 170m range with what was one of the world’s first recognized multi-disciplined dive business training recreational and technical scuba along with freediving. In January of 2000, Kirk founded Performance Freediving International, the world’s first fully integrated freediving educational system with professional liability insurance. Kirk has trained and coached seven athletes to 23 world records including training nine different special operations groups from three different countries and has been an innovator in developing Technical Freediving. In 2016 Kirk was awarded the DAN Rolex Diver of the Year for his dedication to forwarding freedive safety. Kirk has been the trainer and consultant for the cast and crew of the Avatar Sequels by James Cameron since 2017. In this time Avatar completed over a quarter-millions freedives with their largest scene involving 26 people underwater on breath-hold with breath-hold times as long at 4.5min and no hypoxic events or blackouts due to ‘technical freediving’ procedures being used. A Performance Advisor with the Liminal Collective focused on human performance in the diving environment, he advocates for the advantages of human performance training and multi-disciplined diving. With this specialty outlook and ability, Kirk was involved in a 2019 re-examination of a ‘liquid breathing’ at a closed symposium on the subject where a 66-page while paper was produced. Kirk is now the Human Diver Performance Lead at DEEP, the UK based company developing underwater habitats, submersibles, and the training necessary to change the 21st century of marine exploration. With a 200m designed habitat called ‘Sentinel’ and a workhorse submersible named ‘Odin’, these DNV classed engineered designs will start splashing in the first quarter of 2025.

Leigh Bishop

Leigh Bishop is a British shipwreck explorer and pioneer of deep wreck mixed gas diving. He is a well-known deep wreck photographer, and his research has led to the discovery and identification of hundreds of shipwrecks. He has been a member of the most significant deep shipwreck expeditions and scientific projects that have carried the explorer’s club flag.
Leigh has been featured on many television shipwreck documentaries and worked as a deep-water cameraman for National Geographic, History Channel, ITV, Channel 4 and other global networks. He is a prolific writer, speaker and lecturer of shipwreck exploration globally. Over the last two decades, his photographs and articles have appeared in countless magazines, books and major newspapers. He was the man behind the original concept of Eurotek, The Advanced Diving Conference. In recent times his focus of attention is directed towards forthcoming personal book projects.

Nathalie Lasselin

Nathalie Lasselin, a award winning underwater cinematographer, explorer, and environmental advocate, is renowned for her expertise in capturing breathtaking underwater visuals in some of the most demanding and harsh environments. Her portfolio includes a diverse array of underwater projects, spanning documentaries, expeditions, and collaboration on scientific research.
Fueled by an unwavering passion for the underwater realm, Lasselin has undertaken exploration and documentation endeavors across a spectrum of ecosystems, from the Arctic to underwater caves and dark deep waters. Her collaborative efforts with scientists, researchers, and filmmakers serve as a powerful means to spotlight environmental concerns and advance the cause of ocean conservation.
Kids 8 years old study her in their school book in Quebec.
She was the first to dive and film several places including deep wreck in the St Lawrence river in Canada, caves in China, the 4th biggest crater lake and dove 70kms in the river in Montreal to raise awareness towards out drinking water source.
She is an inductee of the WDHOF ( Women Divers hall of Fame) the Explorers club, the RCGS (Royal Canadian Geographical Society).

Nuno Gomes

Nuno Gomes is a diving instructor with the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS), this includes Instructor Trainer, Cave III instructor, Wreck II instructor, Advanced Trimix Instructor and Trimix Gas Blender Instructor. He is also a Professional Civil Engineer and a Commercial Diver. Nuno currently lives in the city of New York in the United States of America. He was born in Lisbon, Portugal but his family relocated to South Africa when he was 14 years old. Nuno has done well over 5,000 dives, in all parts of the world and in all types of environments. He is best known because of his two world records in deep diving (independently verified and approved by Guinness World Records). He did the deepest cave dive in 1996 at the Boesmansgat cave (South Africa) to a depth of 283 m (927 ft), because the cave is located at an altitude of approximately 1,550 m (5,086 ft) above sea level the resulting decompression schedule was for an equivalent sea level dive to a depth of 339 m (1,112 ft), the total dive time was 12 hours and 15 minutes. He also did the deepest sea dive in 2005, in Dahab, the Red Sea (Egypt) to a depth of 318.25 m (1,044 ft), this depth excluded the rope stretch, the actual depth was somewhere between 321.81 m and 323.28 m (1056 ft and 1061 ft) the total dive time for this dive was 12 hours and 20 minutes. Besides diving Nuno also plays Underwater Hockey and Underwater Rugby having participated at National and International level in both sports. He does gym and cycling to keep fit.

Phil Short

Phil from a background of dry caving has followed a life long passion with all things underwater. Working professionally for over 33 years in the Recreational, Technical, Media, Scientific and Commercial Diving communities with a specific specialisation in Rebreather, Cave, Mine and Test diving. He has logged over 8000 hours underwater with half of those on CCR. A Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, Phil is currently working in Research and Development for the merging of diving disciplines to assist and improve scientific diving project capabilities.

Richard Cullen

Richard is 74 years old. He lives in England, close to Heathrow, but he and his wife also own an apartment on the Red Sea in Egypt.
He served for 30 years in the Metropolitan Police retiring as the Director of Training and Development, for what, at the time was the world’s largest police training and development agency.
He then worked within the Home Office for 9 years as Strategic Head of HR for the National Probation Service.
Since 2009 he has been involved in adaptive teaching, which has become a passion for him. In 2014 he founded Deptherapy, a UK charity that sought to rehabilitate UK armed forces’ veterans through scuba diving. Deptherapy specialised in those who had experienced life changing mental and/physical injuries or illnesses.
He believes that much of the adaptive scuba diving world is locked into the past and that a section of the dive industry misquotes research to overstate the benefits of adaptive diving. He believes that parts of the industry are flippant its approach to adaptive teaching.
He is keen that common standards should be created for adaptive teaching through both ISO and WRSTC.

Rico Besserdich

Rico Besserdich, born 1968 in Germany,  is a professional photographer, aquatic imaging artist, visual philosopher, book author, journalist, and a professional scuba-diver (CMAS Course Director).

He has been involved in the art of photography since 1978.

His mission to raise awareness for the importance of water by utilizing water as the key element of his artistic expression earned him recognition by the Nobel Organisation, the Swedish Parliament, the United Nations, among others.

Rico Besserdich is a member of the OCEAN ARTISTS SOCIETY.

Simon Mitchell

Simon works as an anaesthesiologist at Auckland City Hospital, a diving physician at North Shore Hospital (Auckland), and is Professor of Anaesthesiology at the University of Auckland. He is widely published with two books and over 170 scientific journal papers or book chapters. He co-authored the hyperbaric and diving medicine chapter for the last four editions of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine and has been Editor-in-Chief of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine Journal since 2019.
Simon has a long career in sport, scientific, commercial, and military diving. He has participated in cutting edge wreck and cave diving expeditions spanning many years. In 2002 he performed the deepest dive to a shipwreck at that time. In February 2023 he was a member of the Wet Mules expedition to the Pearse Resurgence cave in New Zealand where a 230 m dive was conducted using hydrogen as a breathing gas on a deep dive for the first time in over 30 years. He was conferred Fellowship of the Explorers’ Club of New York in 2006, and was the Rolex Diver of the Year in 2015.
The only thing Simon enjoys more than diving is sharing knowledge and experiences with fellow divers and explorers at events like Diving Talks!

Stefan Panis

Stefan started diving at the age of 6 through his father. In 1992 he did his first “official” course. Since then he moved on to doing courses like nitrox and trimix, and he started diving an Inspiration rebreather in 2009 and Started photographing in 2013.
Meanwhile, he developed a great interest in wrecks and researching the history of the wrecks in the archives.
He spent many dives on wrecks in the North Sea (this year he was there when a virgin VOC ship from 1661 was found, and they are pushing to get a TV documentary done in 2022), the English Channel, where he is part of the expedition-team which has located and identified many shipwrecks, and abroad in Sardinia, Portugal, and Cuba just to name a few. He was involved in different successful expeditions searching for new wrecks, like the identification of the 1852 “Josephine Willis”.
In 2014 he also obtained his full cave CCR certificate.
Since then, Stefan has participated in many cave dives in Sardinia, France, and Spain, and he has become a “specialist” in looking for new Belgian mine sites, and he is photo-documenting them often with breathtaking pictures!
He is the leader of the “Mine Exploration Team”, a dedicated team who does official mine research and documentation.
In 2020, Stefan became a member of The Explorers Club – New York.
The season 2024 kicked off really well, with an exploration of an unknown level in the Morépire mine, the search for an underground tunnel under a Monastry, and geological research in what can be called the largest and the deepest mine in Belgium! Stay tuned!
Stefan has written more than 50 articles for international magazines as well as several books.

Xavier Meniscus

Xavier Méniscus a French cave explorer, stands among the elite few who consistently venture into the abyss, pushing the boundaries of subterranean exploration. His remarkable feat? Descending to unfathomable depths, he holds the record for the deepest cave dive—a staggering 312 meters below the Earth’s surface at Font Estramar in 2023.
Trained at the Institut National de la Plongée Professionnelle (INPP) in Marseille, Xavier’s journey began as a military combat diver and later as a commercial saturation (SAT) diver with COMEX. His fascination with cave diving ignited in 2000, while still a SAT diver. Since then, he has explored numerous caves worldwide, including the Goul de la Tannerie in France, Pozo Azul in Spain, and Boesmansgat in South Africa.
Xavier’s unique approach to deep cave exploration transcends mere records. For him, it’s not about chasing depths; it’s about the relentless pursuit of the unknown. His motivation lies in exploration, not accolades. He shuns the Guinness record, emphasizing that exploration matters more than any numerical achievement. Xavier’s physiological resilience and extensive knowledge, gained from military, commercial, and research diving, equip him to navigate the challenges of sub-200 meter dives with precision and purpose.
Recently, he authored a book titled “Les mystères de l’eau en pays Gervanne entre l’émergence de Bourne et les Fontaigneux” (The Mysteries of Water in Gervanne Country: Between the Emergence of Bourne and the Fontaigneux), providing insights into his captivating underwater adventures. Xavier Méniscus exemplifies the spirit of exploration—one that transcends depths and embraces the enigma of hidden realms beneath our feet.

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Have you achieved something remarkable underwater? Do you hold a dive under your belt, worth sharing with the diving community? Would you like to share it in the Talks?

Reach out to the DIVING talks 2022 Organizing Committee and explain why there should be a slot in the Talks, with your name in it.

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You are a technical diver or a recreational diver, maybe you are into the scientific approach or you thrill with the discovery of a new wreck.

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