Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Dive Pirates Seeing Possibilities for Adaptive Divers


The Dive Pirates Foundation is a non-profit organization working with people with mobility disabilities to teach them to dive. Their slogan is “We no longer see disabilities; we see possibilities.”

They help persons with a range of injuries get into the water through adaptive diving. The foundation covers the recipient’s training and equipment while offering support every step of the way. After proper training, the recipients go on a trip of a lifetime. For 2023, they are heading to Cayman Brac in June and Bonaire in September.

Entering their 19th year, Dive Pirates have 45 chapters across the United States. They have helped 145 recipients (71 former military, 74 civilians) plus their adaptive buddies celebrate life after injury with 10 new Dive Pirates currently scheduled for next year.

Foundation President Tyler Brandes says:

“It gives them a sense of purpose of life after an injury.”

The Dive Pirates annual ball, hosted in February in Houston, is the largest fundraiser of the year. The foundation relies on the generosity of sponsorship and donations year-round to make these life-changing experiences. Dive Pirate memberships directly fund the recipients’ dive equipment.

The goal is to keep the recipients diving as a lifelong adventure.

Tyler says:

“We want them to continue diving with their dive buddy, with their chapter, going on trips, to make this a lifestyle change for them.”

Staff Sargent Scott Dunckel suffers from injuries after clearing supply lines of IEDs as a combat engineer. He started diving with Dive Pirates in 2019.

Dunckel says:

“It’s allowed us the opportunity to learn that I can still do things that I always wanted to, and I have the opportunity to get the rest of the family involved.”

To find out how to support an adaptive diver or to apply to be a Dive Pirate, visit

Nola Schoder
Nola Schoder
Nola is a journalist, visual storyteller and award-winning underwater photographer specializing in marine life, conservation and dive travel. A dive pro for 10+ years and an avid freediver, she started diving in San Diego, CA, and traversed the globe until landing in Miami. She holds a master's in Marine Conservation and works extensively documenting research, mostly with sharks and rays, and even has an individual manta ray named after her. Above water, she is generally on a gastronomic adventure or hiking for a view of our blue planet.