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Watersports Industry Pioneer Jack O’Neill Has Passed Away

In case you hadn’t heard, wetsuit pioneer Jack O’Neill passed away earlier this month at the age of 94.

O’Neill, founder of the worldwide surf company that bears his name, died on June 2nd of natural causes at his home in Santa Cruz, California.

A company Instagram post says:

“Surrounded by family, Jack was as soulful and encouraging as always, reiterating his love for his family, appreciation for a life well lived, his hopes for his friends and the oceans he loved, all within the familiarity of his oceanfront home of over 50 years, with the famous waves of his beloved Pleasure Point beach lapping at his deck.”

A lifelong ocean advocate, he established in 1996 the O’Neill Sea Odyssey (OSO), a marine and environmental education program. More than 30 children at a time would be taken into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary aboard his personal Team O’Neill catamaran. He also helped build a seaside classroom and laboratory facility in the Santa Cruz Harbor.

Since its inception, the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program has hosted nearly 100,000 school-aged children.

On the OSO, O’Neill has been quoted as saying:

“The ocean is alive and we’ve got to take care of it. There’s no doubt in my mind that the O’Neill Sea Odyssey is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

To learn more about Jack O’Neill, check out the company website at

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.