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We Can Be Heroes: Inside the Rebreather Forum 4 imagery

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How the CCR conference reimaged depictions of divers

by Cristian Pelligrini

Rebreather Forum 4 (RF4) is the largest and most significant closed-circuit rebreather (CCR) event internationally, convening the top minds in the industry from around the world every decade to advance rebreather technology and improve safety.

This year, technical, government, and scientific divers and researchers have reunited in the old city of Valletta, Malta, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, to participate in this landmark event and discuss diving safety, physiology, technology, training and operations

RF4 organizers wanted to illustrate and celebrate rebreather divers, so they enlisted an artist behind iconic Marvel comics to depict divers in superhero-style.

Ian Churchill is a West Sussex-based artist who illustrated Marvel Comics and DC Comics titles including THE AVENGERS, X-MEN, SUPERMAN, and THE HULK. Churchill created a number of rebreather diver cartoon characters to represent the real superheroes of the CCR community, from explorers to scientific and military divers, dive instructors and professionals, underwater photographer and videographers. Each one of them is a hero in their own way, pushing the limits of exploration, and advancing the knowledge and curiosity of the human race.

The idea behind the imagery is to inspire the diving community. Just as the Marvel Comics superhero images represent the hope for justice and the potential to amaze, the RF4 diving heroes are there to inspire us all to share knowledge and celebrate the potential. We can all share a sense of marvel.

The characters also celebrate the diversity of the diving community people with various racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. They also represent the different configurations in rebreather diving: backmount, sidemount, ventral. 

The Marvel-like imagery used to represent this community was a stroke of genius that not only celebrates diversity, but also inspires us all to be heroes in our own way. We can all make a difference, and rebreather diving is just one way to do it.


Cristian Pellegrini is a digital marketing and communications specialist at DAN (Divers Alert Network) Europe, and editor of AlertDiver.eu, the international online diving magazine promoting DAN’s mission. A scuba diving instructor and full cave diver, he loves when his inner kid takes command, unleashing his creative spirit, and finds passion playing with words, visual stuff, and marine life.


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Best Fishes

New Zealand-based ocean artist Mon illustrates the beauty and wonder of the undersea world.

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All images and text by Mon.

My most recent dreamscape was inspired by an unforgettable dive near Seal Rocks in NSW, Australia. During that dive, I was surrounded by a breathtaking array of fish, sharks, and rays. The sheer diversity and abundance of marine life left a profound impression on me, and I knew I had to capture that experience in my art. 

I’ve always been fascinated by the incredible diversity of marine life, and this fascination led me to want to share my knowledge and love for these creatures with others. 

I’m primarily self-taught. I’ve been doing illustrations for as long as I can remember, but I started taking it more seriously around three years ago. 

I draw my inspiration primarily from the ocean itself. The underwater world is an endless source of wonder and beauty, and I find inspiration in the mesmerizing colors, intricate patterns, and fascinating creatures that inhabit it

While I don’t have formal training as a naturalist, spending countless hours exploring the ocean and observing its fascinating ecosystems has allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for the intricate beauty and complexity of marine life. 

The vibrancy of the colors in my illustrations is largely a reflection of the real-life underwater world I’ve had the privilege to explore. I often base my colors on actual images I’ve captured with my underwater camera. 

Every dive is a fresh source of creative ideas.

Creating these collections allows me to not only showcase the beauty and uniqueness of each species but also contribute to a resource that can help others learn more about the underwater world. 

One crucial aspect of my process is using photos I’ve taken as references. These images serve as a valuable resource for capturing the intricate details and features of the subject accurately and ensure that my artwork remains true to the beauty of the natural world. 

I seek to evoke emotions of tranquility, wonder, and responsibility, inviting viewers to not only admire the creatures I depict but also take action to protect them and engage in sustainable activities that ensure the health of our marine ecosystems. 

I’d like viewers to leave my illustrations with a heightened appreciation for the ocean’s beauty, a stronger connection to nature, and a greater sense of responsibility towards marine conservation. 

Ultimately, I aspire to play a meaningful role in the intersection of art, ocean advocacy, and conservation, contributing to a sustainable future for our oceans through my work.

Art is not just a passion for me; it’s my full-time job, and I feel truly fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love.

Hailing from the picturesque shores of New Zealand, Mon’s connection with the sea is at the core of her creative journey. She’s not just an artist; she’s a free diver, a scuba dive instructor, and an adept spearfisherwoman. Over the past 8 years, Mon has explored the world’s oceans, diving into their mysteries and capturing their beauty. Mon specialises in marine illustrations, crafting captivating artworks that transport viewers beneath the waves. Guided by the visual references she captures with her underwater camera and enriched by her personal encounters with marine life, Mon’s art comes to life with authenticity and depth. She is also an advocate for sustainable spearfishing practices. She utilizes her art as a potent medium to raise awareness about the importance of responsible fishing. 

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