Compiled by InDEPTH with the help of the GUE community. Special thanks to Richie Denmark, Dorota Czerny, John Kendall, Todd Kincaid, Kady Smith, and Meredith Tanguay. Lead image and layout by SJ Alice Bennett.
Lamar English, Bill Gavin, Bill Main and Parker Turner (who later went on to form the Woodville Karst Plains Project), successfully conducted the Sullivan-Cheryl Sink Traverse (65 mfw/220 ffw) using trimix in the Panhandle of Florida, USA.
Bill Gavin and Bill Main formed a cave diving research and exploration foundation in 1985. They were later joined by Parker Turner, Lamar English and Bill McFadden and incorporated as a 501c3 organization, Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) in 1990.
Jarrod Jablonski and Todd Kincaid, Ph.D. made history when they discovered the largest cave in Turkey, as part of Project KarstDive cave exploration in the Taurus Mountains in the summer of 1995. The goal was to explore, map, and document several underwater cave systems along the southern flank of the Taurus Mountains. Originally a WKPP project in partnership with many other organizations, Project KarstDive laid the foundation for what would become GUE.
DIVE DEEPER: Under the Taurus Mountains: The Karstdive Discovery
Mario Arena, his student Andrea Marassich and North East Divers became the Italian distributors for aquaCORPS: The Journal for Technical Diving, and translated each issue of aquaCORPS into Italian and distributed the transcribed copies.
George Irvine, Jarrod Jablonski and Casey McKinlay connected Big Dismal Sink with the Leon Sinks Cave System when they reached the line in the Bitter End Tunnel leading from Cheryl Sink . This connection confirmed the system as the most extensive submerged cave in North America north of Mexico, and placed it among the 30 longest caves, wet or dry, in the United States.
July & August
Todd Kincaid, Jarrod Jablonski and Barry Miller return to Turkey to conduct further exploration, survey, and scientific work for Project KarstDive, this time in collaboration with Hacettepe University, Ankara Turkey.
Robert Carmichael, CEO of Brownie’s Third Lung displayed its pre-production Halcyon PVR-BASC (passive, variable-ratio, biased addition, semi-closed) rebreather designed by engineer Jack Kellan, at DEMA. WKPP’s George Irvine and others began incorporating the rebreather in their dives. The WKPP called it the “Fridge” as it looked like a small hotel refrigerator. The PVR-BASC was later replaced in 1999 with the RB80, a non-depth compensated, passive addition, semi-closed rebreather designed by Reinhard Buchaly, from the European Karst Plains Project (EKPP).
Jarrod Jablonski formed the not-for-profit organization, Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), which launched on July 1, 1998. GUE initially offered seven courses: Cave 1, 2, & 3; Tech 1, 2, & 3; and a rebreather (PVR-BASC) course.
Later in July
George Irvine, Jarrod Jablonski and Brent Scarabin blistered their ‘old’ world’s cave penetration record by traveling 18,000 feet/ 5,500 meters in the O tunnel of Wakulla Springs. The massive conduit that they explored appeared to be headed toward Spring Creek Springs on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. They again used Halcyon rebreathers, and spent about 15 hours of in-water decompression on this monumental dive. (July 24, 1998)
GUE memberships are launched.
GUE adds the instructor database to the website.
WKPP divers Ted Cole, George Irvine and Jarrod Jablonski, using conventional open circuit scuba, set a new world’s record underwater cave traverse of 14,000 feet/4,628 meters, traveling from Big Dismal Sink in Leon County to Cheryl Sink in Wakulla County, Florida. The WKPP trio also broke the previous North American traverse record set by earlier WKPP divers Parker Turner, Lamar English, Bill Gavin and Bill Main, when they cruised 8,700 feet/2,652 meters from Sullivan Sink to Cheryl Sink in 1988. (May 29, 1999)
The first dirQuest magazine is published.
dirQuest Online, including the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list, goes live for GUE members.
GUE’s Britannic Expedition. DIVE DEEPER: 20 Years: The Secrets of the Britannic
DecoPlanner, GUE’s decompression software, is released.
GUE expands its instructor base to 25 instructors
Halcyon releases the RB80, a semi-closed rebreather with a patented water removal system.
DIR Fundamentals is released as a non-certification workshop to help Level 1 students find greater success in their classes. Fundamentals started as a 2-day workshop, then it became a pass/no pass workshop, then it became a 3-day class, then 4-days and now 4-5 days, with many students believing they need to take additional other training before taking Fundamentals. Without exception, other agencies overtly chided GUE for its foolishness creating a class that provided a card that afforded no new dive activities—”what a waste” was the common mantra. It has become GUE’s most popular class by far.
GUE is officially approved by the United States IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
GUE publishes the book “Doing It Right: The Fundamentals of Better Diving,” in printed format.
Getting Clear on the Basics: The Fundamentals of Technical Diving and Beyond the Daylight Zone: The Fundamentals of Cave Diving are released in PDF format.
GUE’s TriOx course (a trimix with <20% Helium) is released, defined as “a recreational program geared towards divers wanting to use TriOx in their everyday diving.”
DIR Fundamentals is changed to a certification course and becomes a prerequisite for the TriOx, cave, and technical courses.
Crossing the pond
GUE held its first courses in the UK.
Six GUE cave instructors were actively teaching in High Springs.
Director of Quality Control
Dr. Panos Alexakos is appointed as GUE’s first Director of Quality Control.
DIR 2004 DVD set released: When Jarrod Jablonski and George Irvine set out to develop a replacement for the very-popular (but somewhat dated) DIR video series, their goal was to provide a complete head-to-toe presentation of how they configure their own dive gear to conform to the DIR standard.
dirQuest becomes Quest
GUE Headquarters moves into its own building in High Springs, FL
The first GUE training committee is formed. Members are Jarrod Jablonski, David Rhea, Richard Lundgren, Mario Arena, and Chris Le Maillot.
GUE’s first independent Quality Control Board is appointed.
GUE’s first international ITC held in Hurghada, Egypt at Marlin Inn Dive Center.
Mario Arena launches the Pantelleria Project. Mario Arena brought a team of GUE divers to this remote location; the group was working to conduct a careful survey of ancient amphora that litter the ocean bottom. Sitting in approximately 76m/250 ft, artifacts were to be located, tagged and filmed, and a thorough survey conducted of their location and orientation, which would aid local archaeologists. During the expedition, objects up to 2500 years old were recovered from depths of up to 80 meters/262 ft.
Dress for Success by Dan MacKay, which discusses the DIR philosophy is released for purchase.
GUE reaches 50 instructors
Norway Wreck Diving Project in Narvik. DIVE DEEPER: Gue Project Diary: Narvik, Norway 2005Report
GUE holds its first conference in Florida.
A new version of GUE.com is launched that allows instructors to add and manage courses online, as well as allows students to complete forms and apply directly for classes.
The training committee transitions into the first Training Council and adds Bob Sherwood as a member.
DIR Fundamentals changed to GUE Fundamentals and Recreational/Technical pass ratings, as well as Nitrox ratings, are introduced. Recreational Diver 1 or Rec 1 is added to the standards as GUE’s entry-level diver course.
The GUE EDGE is introduced as GUE’s dive planning procedure and replaces SADDDDD.
Jarrod Jablonski and Casey McKinlay make the Wakulla-Turner connection and traverse in the Panhandle of Florida USA.
GUE’s third conference is held in Budapest, Hungary, the first time it’s held internationally. Dr. Simon Mitchell reveals the existence of the DIR Diver Proximity Alarm (DDPA) in one of the panel sessions.
GUE members form the Alviela Team to explore and survey the Alviela cave system in Portugal with the support of the Sociedade Portuguesa de Espeleologia (www.SPE.pt). Their explorations continue.
Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games
Zero Gravity/GUE Gemini project living in the jungle.
Become a GUE Dive Center
GUE releases its Facilities/Dive Center Program.
Jarrod Jablonski and Casey McKinlay set a world record for the longest penetration on a cave dive at 7,900m/26,000 ft at Wakulla Springs in the Panhandle of Florida, USA. The dive lasted 27-hours to a max depth of 79 m/260 ft. Their record was not broken until 2016 by Jon Bernot and Charlie Roberson at Cathedral Canyon.
GUE conducted two scouting missions to Chinese caves to provide an opportunity to organize equipment, scout diving locations and develop community relationships. The diving continued the following year. The GUE team included: Jarrod Jablonski, Casey McKinlay, David Rhea, Mark Garland, Gideon Liew and Andrew Cronan. The team was joined by David Deng from China.
Rec 1 is released as a 10-day program.
DPV Diver 1 is added as a course; foundational training is expanded to include Doubles and Drysuit Primers as well as the GUE Primer.
WKPP received a resolution from Governor Charlie Christ in recognition of 20 years of exceptional volunteer service to the State of Florida.
Project Baseline, GUE’s conservation initiative that provides a platform for divers to document changing aquatic conditions, is launched.
The Women of GUE
Dorota Czerny becomes GUE’s first “home-grown” female Tech 1 instructor.
GUE expands its instructor base to 100 instructors.
GUE conducts the Balkans Cave Exploration Project. DIVE DEEPER: Balkans Cave Exploration Project July 2010 Trip Report
GUE hosts its first large-format event, the Global Diving Conference, in Kiel, Germany. DIVE DEEPER: 2011 Global Diving Conference Report
A GUE team of six RB80 rebreather divers consisting of Jarrod Jablonski, Casey McKinlay, Liam Allen, Richard Lundgren, Kirill Egorov & JP Bresser was able to execute six successful days of diving and documentation the USS Atlanta with bottom times up to 35 minutes at a depth of 120 m/394 ft. DIVE DEEPER: USS Atlanta Project
The Women of GUE
Dorota Czerny becomes GUE’s first “home grown” female Tech 2 instructor.
GUE launches its Documentation Diver program.
Pascal van Erp started the organization Ghost Diving (then Ghost Fishing) in November 2012 with the aim of internationalizing their local activities for removing ghost fishing gear and in this way drawing more attention to the problem. Their work gained immediate fame and they were contacted by GUE diving communities around the world interested in the concept. The Ghost Diving chapters were born, and ocean conservation and technical diving were now mentioned in the same breath. To date, Ghost Diving is organized in no fewer than 18 countries with about 450 GUE divers involved.
GUE forms a relationship with JJ-CCR to provide GUE configured JJ-CCRs. The first beta class is held in June in Florida.
GUE successfully completes course audits and is granted EUF certification for the recreational and GUE Fundamentals courses.
Rec 2 is released.
GUE launches its CCR 1 course.
Auxiliary educational programs are expanded to include DPV Cave, Underwater Cave Survey, and Gas Blender
The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute hosts GUE and their expedition ship, Pacific Provider for a public presentation and tour. GUE and Brownies collaborated with Dr. Brian Lapointe and his team from the Harbor Branch to revisit some of Florida’s reefs with a Triton Sub where Dr. Lapointe has previously documented harmful impacts from waste-water nutrients, tracing those impacts down the side of the continental shelf.
Project Baseline, GlobalSubDive, Global Underwater Explorers, and the Bahamas Cave Research Foundation collaborated to plan and execute a series of cave dives into five Blue Holes on Andros, Bahamas: Stargate, Eldorado, Benjamin’s Blue Hole, Kemps Bay-1 and Andros Cracks to depths of 100 m/328 ft. The team conducted video surveys of the cave basins and cave passages, recorded vertical and lateral water quality distributions, and documented archeological/anthropological remains at various depths and locations within the largest caves.
GUE divers conducted Project Sardinia to study the ecological aspect of cave environment, specifically the Bel Torrente and Bue Marino caves, characterizing the sediment on the bottom by a physical and chemical point of view and studying the association of benthic foraminifera, which live in the sediment and that are considered important environmental indicators.
Mars the Magnificent
GUE’s MARS Project headed by Richard Lundgren is featured as National Geographic cover story: “MARS THE MAGNIFICENT”
GUE’s Hoyo Negro project led by Alberto Nava is featured as National Geographic cover story: Naia, The First American
GUE Fundamentals is now available in a split format, GUE Fundamentals Part 1 and Part 2
GUE holds a documentation contest in Croatia as a means of community engagement.
GUE’s Rec 1 program is relaunched and is now available as either a full certification course or as Recreational Supervised Diver. Discover Diving is also added.
GUE holds a documentation contest in France as a means of community engagement.
July & August
GUE and Project Baseline partner with the Nekton Foundation and Oxford University to conduct a month-long expedition to Bermuda to survey deep and mesophotic reefs at depths of between 309 m/1000 ft and the surface.
GUE and Project Baseline partner with NOAA to document the newly discovered wrecks of the German U-boat U576 and its last victim the Bluefields that sank during the Battle of the Atlantic – WWII. The project involved submersible operations to ~244 meters/800 feet operating off of the Baseline Explorer and technical diving operations to ~107 meters/350 feet operating off of Baseline Explorer’s diving tender Fountain.
National Marine Sanctuaries
In 2016, a group of GUE divers representing Project Baseline were asked to visit Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan for a collaboration with NOAA focused on legitimizing the use of GUE divers in National Marine Sanctuaries documentation projects. With a bit of direction from the NOAA staff we were able to successfully capture photomosaics and photogrammetry of shipwrecks that had no previous successful documentation. This success has opened the door for GUE divers to gain support for projects in regional marine sanctuaries across the United States.
The Women of GUE
Meredith “Mer” Tanguay and Irene Homberger (who is also a dry cave instructor) become GUE’s first “home-grown” female Cave 1 Instructors
On December 16, 1990, Sheck Exley set a world record at Cathedral Canyon at 3335 m/10,939 ft. Fourteen years later, on July 24, 2004, a team of GUE/WKPP divers, Todd Leonard, Bjarne Knudsen and their team pushed Cathedral out to 5219 m/17,119 ft, not a world record but an impressive dive nonetheless. Twelve years later, on November 4, 2016, Jon Bernot and Charlie Roberson set a new world record at Cathedral at 8210 m/26,930 ft, surpassing Jablonski and McKinley’s 2008 penetration record.
GUE partners with the Italian Government Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity in the documentation and recovery of 2000-year-old shipwreck artifacts off the coast of the Egadi Islands.
GUE expands its instructor base to 150 instructors.
Rec 2 is re-released, now comprised of Rescue, Navigation, and Triox Primers.
Project Baseline Mission to Fiji in collaboration with the University of the South Pacific and Nova Southeastern University.
GUE’s 20th Anniversary! (Infographic)
CCR Diver is split into CCR Diver 1 and 2, and program offerings are expanded to include Cave Sidemount, Photogrammetry Diver, Scientific Diver, and CCR Cave.
GUE launches its new website that supports multiple languages.
GUE launches its global tech community magazine InDEPTH with aquaCORPS founder and journalist Michael Menduno.
DiveGUE.tv is rebranded to GUE.tv and the app is launched.
The Next Generation
GUE launches its NextGen Scholarship.
The Hidden River Project team extends the line in Reseau De L’Ouysse to the third sump.
The GUE team ArcheoX conducted operations on the archeological site of the Battle of Egadi Islands in collaboration with RPM Nautical Foundation under the direction of Soprintendenza del Mare of Regione Sicilia. They also conducted dives on the site of The Battle of The Convoys.
Todd Kincaid spins off Project Baseline from GUE and establishes it as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization at the 2019 OZTek conference in Australia.
GUE expands its instructor base to 200 instructors.
GUE partners with Divers Alert Network Europe to offer Basic Life Support (BLS) and other diving-related first aid courses.
GUE appoints Dorota Czerny as Vice President.
The Women of GUE
Mer Tanguay becomes GUE’s first “home grown” female Cave 2 Instructor.
GUE publishes a new version of the book The Fundamentals of Better Diving.
Jesper Kjoller takes over as Quest’s editor and the magazine is transitioned to digital with the August issue.
GUE launches its International Community Day during COVID19.
GUE releases the book, Deep into Cave Diving and the latest DecoPlanner 4 release with native OSX and Windows support, plus Android and iOS apps.
GUE launches its Project Diver Program.
GUE launches its Tech 3, and Cave 3 courses.
GUE launches its European online store. www.gue-store.eu
Ox Bel Ha
Concurrently, it’s the 25th anniversary of GUE’s exploration efforts in Ox Bel Ha, the largest underwater cave system in Mexico.
GUE Launched the NexGen Legacy Project.
GUE celebrates its 25th Anniversary! 🎂
See accompanying story, Twenty-five Years in the Pursuit of Excellence: The Evolution and Future of GUE by Jarrod Jablonski
Readers, if you know of items that should be included on the GUE anniversary timeline or found errors please contact us at: InDEPTH@GUE.com
GUE 25 Anniversary Conference Round Up
Global Underwater Explorers held a conference to commemorate the organization’s 25th anniversary. Held at GUE headquarters in High Springs, Florida, where it was founded by a group of cave divers founded in 1998, the organization convened instructors and divers from all over the world to recall the people and diving technologies that shaped GUE, how they’ve changed over time, and how they’ll evolve in the future.
In addition to celebrating the occasion, GUE convened speakers to present on topics related to its three biggest priorities: Exploration, Education, Conservation.
Shipwreck explorer Mario Arena, for example, gave a presentation on the “Battle of Convoys in the Mediterranean,” his 16-year project discovering and documenting dozens of shipwrecks left behind by the three-year-long battle during World War II and how his team is bringing the wrecks back to life using new technologies.
Cave explorers Fred Devos, Julien Fortin, and Sam Meacham gave a presentation on their efforts to document Ox Bel Ha, the largest underwater cave system in Mexico, a project which is concurrently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The project started out with, as Meacham called it, “two chainsaws, a compressor, and a horse,” and has begun to resurvey 144 square miles of caves with advances in diving equipment. Advances as simple as upgrades to lightbulbs and batteries, for example, enable the explorers to see through new passages.
Bill Stone, a cave explorer and head of Stone Aerospace, discussed “Recent Advances in Machine Exploration,” chronically how he’s used machines to explore underwater caves farther than any human. Stone’s autonomous drone, called Sunfish, uses sonar mapping to produce 3D maps and models deeper than photogrammetry divers can dive.
Ulrik Juul Christensen, a founder and chairman of Bonaire’s Area9 Mastery Diving Research Center, is developing an adaptive learning education platform for GUE and has spent about as much time as the organization has been in existence building education technologies. Christensen’s talk, “Learning That Matters,” focused on how to create new systems to help educate learners at their own pace so that knowledge, and not speed, is the priority.
In a complementary presentation, Sean Talamas, a managing partner and executive coach at leadership development consulting firm, discussed “The Depth of Character: Cultivating Grit, and a Growth Mindset.” The presentation focused on research by Angela Duckworth suggesting success is not achieved through talent, but a combination of passion and persistence she called “grit.”
GUE Instructor Trainer Andrea Marassich gave a presentation on “Building Capacity for Extreme Explorations” about the Sa Conca e Locoli Cave Project in Sardinia, Italy. Learning, he suggested, happens when you go out of your comfort zone, but not all the way to what he called the “panic zone,” where you are overwhelmed to the point that you don’t learn but instead shut down and it becomes extremely dangerous.” “You need a mentor,” Marassich said. “Someone who knows you enough to push you when you need to be pushed and pull back when you need to pull back.”
These were just a few of the education- and exploration-focused presentations. Speakers also included Blue Green Expeditions Managing Partner Faith Ortins on how divers can support environmentally conscious destinations, Peter Gaertner on citizen science conducted in the Caves of Gulf of Orosei project, Daniel Ortego on the Marine Genome Project, and Neal W. Pollock on the physiological limitations of technology in diving.
Max Deco & Bubble Trouble entertained conference attendees at the Friday night social with a pre-dive playlist of classic rock. Band members: John Kendall vocals, Gary Franklin vocals, Bill Stone lead guitar, Andrew Dow guitar, Francesco Cameli bass, Michael Menduno bass, Jason Cook drums.
You can find the full conference photo album here.