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The 2009 NOGI Awards at DEMA

Presented by The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences and sponsored by Ball Watches, this year was the 50th Anniversary of the NOGI Awards.

The New Orleans Grand Isle or NOGI was originally a statuette trophy designed for the annual New Orleans – Grand Isle Scuba Divers (Spear Fishing) International Tournament. A few days after the second tournament finished, identical statues were given on 20^th August 1960 to ‘outstanding contributors to Scuba Diving’. Whilst the spear fishing tournament ceased to exist many years ago, the much prized and respected NOGI’s have prevailed, and are today considered diving’s “Nobel Awards”.

All told there are 184 NOGI recipients; 168 men and 16 women who have made significant contributions to the dive industry in four different fields;

– Arts

Filmmakers, painters, photographers, sculptors, and other artists who bring the majesty of the underwater world to people everywhere

– Sciences

Explorers, inventors, doctors and scientists whose work helps us understand, enjoy and protect our precious underwater realm

– Sport and Education

Outstanding athletes and teachers who make diving a safe, enjoyable and accessible activity to all who love the ocean

– Distinguished Service

World-renowned as well as quiet achievers whose contributions keep the wheels of the diving industry and the global diving community turning

This year’s Arts recipient was Bonnie J. Cardone. During her 22 year career with Skin Diver Magazine, Bonnie wrote more than 900 articles and published thousands of photos. In addition she wrote articles about women pioneers for the Historical Diving Society’s magazine and authored two books. “Shipwrecks of Southern California” and “Fireside Diver”. She was principal photographer for Diving and Snorkelling in Southern California and the Channel Islands. Currently she is a freelance photographer/journalist and has been published in California Diving News, Diver Magazine, Alert Diver, Sport Diver and several e-zines.

The Science NOGI was awarded to Hannes Keller. He is a world renowned philosopher, mathematician and visionary, whose work includes the development of decompression algorithms for use in dive computers. In
1961 he set the deep diving record of 216 metres/710 feet.

Walt “Butch” Hendrick Jnr was awarded the Sports and Education NOGI. Walt has devoted his life to training diving, rescue, recovery and diver safety to thousands of fire, police, EMS, military and sport divers through his company “Lifeguard Systems”. Lifeguard Systems now train in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Caribbean, and America.

The 2009 NOGI Distinguished Service recipient was Mike Gower. Mike started diving in 1959 and was of the original founding members of The Underwater Society of America. Over a career of 46 years, Mike has dealt
with legislation, environmental issues, ecology, aquatic sports, education and safety. Mike has made a second career promoting underwater activities and diving related issues, such as free diving records, spear
fishing, and other aquatic sports. He is currently the representative to the US Olympic Committee and CMAS International Fin Swimming and Free Diving – Spear Fishing Competition.

(filed by Rosemary E Lunn)

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