The Diving Talks International Diving Show is an event that brings together diving enthusiasts, professionals, and industry experts from all around the world. It is a celebration of the underwater world, a platform for knowledge sharing, and a gathering of like-minded individuals with a deep passion for diving. As participants enter the venue, they are immediately engulfed in an atmosphere of excitement, curiosity, and good vibes.
The show is designed to inspire and educate, with various activities catering to divers’ diverse interests. There are captivating keynote speeches by renowned experts who share their deep knowledge and insights into multiple aspects of diving, marine conservation, and exploration. These talks inspire and motivate the audience to further explore the underwater realm and contribute to its preservation.
In addition to the informative sessions, the show also features interactive workshops and demonstrations. Divers can get hands-on experience with the latest diving gear, test out new techniques, and learn from the best in the industry. These activities enhance their skills and create a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
One of the most cherished aspects of the Diving Talks International Diving Show is the opportunity for divers to connect. The event serves as a hub for networking, fostering new friendships, and rekindling old ones. Divers from around the globe share stories, swap tips and tricks, and exchange contact information to stay in touch for future diving adventures. The conversations flow effortlessly, and the community has an unwavering sense of warmth and acceptance.
The positive energy at the show is palpable. Whether it’s the laughter from a group of friends reminiscing about their recent dive trip or the animated discussions about conservation initiatives, the atmosphere is brimming with enthusiasm and a deep appreciation for the beauty and fragility of the underwater world.
The Diving Talks International Diving Show serves as a reminder of the profound impact that the diving community can have in preserving and exploring the wonders of the underwater world. It ignites a fire within divers, encouraging them to continue exploring, advocate for conservation, and spread the joy and good vibes the show embodies.
Founder and General Manager
M: +351 964643858
Remembering Bret Gilliam
by John Bantin. Photos courtesy of Bret Gilliam unless noted.
Bret Gilliam (1951-2023) was one of the true pioneers of scuba diving. He worked for the U.S. Navy before moving to St. Croix and becoming a dive shop owner. In the Caribbean, he later ran liveaboard dive boats, including the 550-foot Ocean Quest, the largest such vessel ever dedicated to diving. He started Fathoms magazine with Fred Garth, to which he brought both his writing and underwater photography skills. He ran Uwatec in the USA before it was bought by Scubapro. In 1972, he created a consulting company, Ocean Tech and, over the years, he appeared as a diving and maritime litigation consultant and expert witness, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in almost equal numbers. He set the record for the deepest dive on air (475 feet in 1993) and founded the technical diving training agency TDI. A frequent contributor to Undercurrent, he will be sorely missed. If you ever met Bret, well, you know he was larger than life.
When I first met Bret, I disliked him intensely. My British friend Rob Palmer, a self-effacing gentleman, had invited me to the Bahamas for the launch of the Draeger semi-closed circuit rebreather, and I found myself in the company of a group of American loud-mouthed technical diving pioneers, each competing with the other to hold the floor, with Bret’s booming voice dominating. Bret could be a bit of a bully, and I noticed he would pick away at any perceived weakness of character or physique.
It was later, at the TDI (Middle East) conference, when Rob Palmer, my roommate, went missing, having been last seen at 400 feet in the Red Sea and still descending, that Bret and I bonded in our mutual grief and a shared total lack of understanding as to why it had happened.
When we boarded the charter flight back to the UK, Bret dryly observed that he usually traveled in business class. I opined that I’d be happy if I didn’t have to sit next to a fat bastard. It was at that point Bret realized he’d met a soulmate.
Before I visited him at his home in Maine for the first time, he sent me over eighty photographs of his properties. I retorted I was coming to see him, and I didn’t really need the realty sales pitch. To his dismay, I turned up with my wife and two young children. He discovered, to his delight, that none of my family would take any shit either, and they hit it off quite well. My view is that if you can give it, you’ve gotta be able to take it, too. Bret had a similar philosophy.
Meeting him by chance, diving in PNG, for example, bystanders were amazed at the way we insulted each other by way of greeting. In spite of that, Bret was a stalwart and loyal friend who was quick to insert himself into any confrontation his friends found themselves in. His technical witness work in litigation cases and extensive knowledge of diving meant that opposing lawyers competed to get him into their camp. As one judge was heard to say, “I know Mr Gilliam. He’s never started a fight but I’ve seen him win a few.”
Bret was generous to a fault. Never one to shy away from picking up the tab, he once invited me to join him on an all expenses paid (by him) musical pub crawl in Ireland. We found ourselves on a tour bus with a number of ready victims from America. We laughed all the way. More recently, he invited me to do the same thing again and to join him and friends on a trip to the Grand Tetons. Alas, I was not able to make it. As always, all expenses were covered. He used to regularly invite a great gathering of notables (and me) to dinner while at the DEMA show, all on him.
Because I was tall, thin, and English, and in those earlier days wore my hair in a ponytail, he likened me to Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. He even had a framed photo on his wall of the drummer and some people questioned why he displayed a photo of me. I always signed my emails to him, ‘Mick’.
If you stayed in his home, you were careful not to over-do the cookies and you made sure to replace the drip cup under the coffee machine.
John Bantin was an advertising photographer and television commercials director during the ’70s and ’80s. He learned to dive in 1979, and in 1992 made it his career. He was technical editor for Diver Magazine, Britain’s most popular diving magazine for 25 years until he retired but then became senior editor at Undercurrent.org.