Dive Into The Gulf:  An Exposition 

August 19 - 20, 2022

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Dive into the Gulf: An Exposition provides an opportunity for the SCUBA, science, conservation, art, and education communities to come together for one weekend, in addition to a community dinner. Events range from trying SCUBA, speaker presentations from community experts ranging from the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to Texas A&M Galveston and more, Check out diver community expo booths, SCUBA diving in the Gulf of Mexico and other opportunities. All proceeds from the event will go to the Moody Gardens Conservation Fund to support our first mission into the Gulf of Mexico's mesophotic zone.

Want to be a vendor at the event? Book your space now!

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Dive Charter through Texas Scuba Adventures Excursion - Sunday, 8/21

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Friday, August 19:

2pm-8pm: Welcome Party at Palm Beach

  • $20 ticket

Saturday, August 20:

7am: Breakfast Buffet at Café in the Park (not included)

9am-11am: Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tours for Hotel Package Guests

  • 9am-10am
  • 10am-11am
  • 36 spots each tour; pick up 15 minutes prior in the hotel lobby; guests get choice of one-time slot on either day

10am-5pm: Dive into the Gulf: An Exposition! Located at the Moody Gardens Convention Center Expo A.

  • $15 ticket, includes raffle ticket and Aquarium entry, vendor hall that circles the speaker stage

11am-3pm: Try Scuba sponsored by Texas Scuba Adventures at the Moody Gardens Indoor Pool

Speakers:

  • 10am | Jake Emmert - Mesophotic Diving (MGDP) | Dive Into Twilight with the Moody Gardens Dive Program
  • 11am | Janavi  Mahimtura Folmsbee - Marine Art (JMF) | Our Marine World, Through Art
  • 12pm | G.P. Schmahl -  Flower Garden Banks NMS | 30 Years of Flower Gardens
  • 1pm |  Brooke Shipley - Artifical Reefs (TPWD) | Dive Into Texas' Artificial Reefs
  • 2pm | Kris Sarri, Kelly Martin and Larry McKinney - National Marine Sanctuaries (NMSF) | Blue Beacon Series: Save Spectacular with Marine Sanctuaries & Gulf Restoration 
  • 3pm | Christine Tamburri - Divers Alert Network | Environmental Stewardship for Divers
  • 4pm | Jesse Cancelmo - Underwater photography (JC) | Using Photography to Capture the Essence of the FGBNMS

7pm-10pm: Currents in the Gulf sponsored by Divers Alert Network
Location: Viewfinders Terrace on the 9th Floor of the Hotel 

  • Lionfish Seafood Dinner, Cash Bar, Silent Auction, Speaker
  • Included in hotel package
  • $85 ticket (All proceeds go to conservation efforts)
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Sunday, August 21:

7am-7pm: Dive Charter through Texas Scuba Adventures (external booking) - First come, first serve!

9am-11am: Aquarium Behind the Scenes Tours for Hotel Package Guests

  • 9am-10am
  • 10am-11am
  • 36 spots each tour; pick up 15 minutes prior in the hotel lobby; guests get choice of one time slot on either day

Try Scuba Experience sponsored by Texas Scuba Adventures

Saturday, Aug. 20  | 11am - 3pm

Have you ever wondered what it's like to breathe underwater? If you want to find out but aren't quite ready to take the full plunge into a certification course, Try Scuba Diving with the Texas Scuba Adventures team will let you try scuba to see if you like it.
Try Scuba is a quick and easy introduction to what it takes to explore the underwater world. sense of adventure! This is a non-certification program to allow non-divers to experience scuba diving.
To sign up for a Try Scuba Diving experience, you must be at least 10 years old.
No prior experience with scuba diving is necessary, but you need to be in reasonable physical health. 

What is it?
You learn the basic safety guidelines and skills needed to dive under the direct supervision of a Dive Professional.

What will you do?

  • Go over the scuba equipment you use to dive and how easy it is to move around underwater with your gear.
  • Find out what it’s like to breathe underwater.
  • Have fun swimming around and exploring.
  • Hear about becoming a certified NAUI Open Water SCUBA Diver

What should you bring?

  • A swimsuit
  • A towel
  • A sense of adventure!

Hotel Packages Available

Spend the weekend with us at the Moody Gardens Hotel! 

Two Night Dive Expo Package:

  • A fantastic hotel room for two
  • Dive into the Gulf expo tickets
  • Friday night Welcome Party at Palm Beach
  • Behind the Scenes Tour at the Aquarium Pyramid
  • Currents in the Gulf Community Dinner Tickets
  • Raffle entries and more!
  1.  Book Your  8/19 - 8/20  Hotel Package

One Night Dive Expo Package:

  • A fantastic hotel room for two
  • Dive into the Gulf expo tickets
  • Behind the Scenes Tour at the Aquarium Pyramid
  • Currents in the Gulf Community Dinner Tickets
  • Raffle entries and more!
  1. Book Your 8/20 Hotel Package 

Book Now

Event Speaker Lineup:

10 am - Jake Emmert

Dive Into Twilight with the Moody Gardens Dive Program

Jake Emmert has been the Diving Safety Officer at Moody Gardens since 2015. Prior to that he worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef Program and Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Diving Program while earning bachelor and graduate degrees. He is currently the President of the Association of Dive Program Administrators, and Chair and Conservation Seat of the Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

As diving safety officer for a zoo and aquarium dive program, he oversees animal care operations and scientific field expeditions that engage and inspire annual visitors to advocate for the planet’s marine and terrestrial environments. Jake has been involved in more than a decade of scientific diving operations in the Gulf of Mexico and is a technical diving instructor, instructor trainer, and diving medical technician. His primary interest is the collaboration of zoo and aquarium dive programs with research and conservation institutions, occupational dive program management, and mesophotic diving operations.

11 am - Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee

Our Marine World, Through Art

Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee wants to live in a world where everyone can experience the beauty of our oceans. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India in a home overlooking the Indian Ocean. She is a 2009 graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (S.A.I.C). She currently lives and works in Houston. Folmsbee has shown her work in Mumbai, Beijing, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai, and the United States. Her works have been featured in international fairs, including Kunst Rai, Art Rotterdam, The Indian Contemporary Art Fair, Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Arte Dubai; in print media, including Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia edition), The Times of India, the Houston Chronicle, Houston Modern Luxury, and Verve (India); and in television interviews on ABC News and KRPC Houston.

12 pm - G.P. Schmahl

30 Years of Flower Gardens

G.P. Schmahl has been the superintendent of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary since March 1999. Prior to that he served for eight years as the Lower Keys Regional Manager of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key West, Florida. 

As sanctuary superintendent he is involved with a broad array of Marine Protected Area management issues including research, education and resource protection. Since obtaining a graduate degree in Zoology from the University of Georgia, G.P. has held a variety of positions relating to marine research, coastal management, resource planning and environmental regulation. His primary interest is the ecology and management of coral reefs, mesophotic communities and associated ecosystems.

 

1 pm - Brooke Shipley

Dive Into Texas’ Artificial Reefs

J. Brooke Shipley received her Ph.D. in Marine Sciences from the University of South Alabama.  While in graduate school she was awarded an American Fisheries Society / National Sea Grant Office fellowship pertaining to aquatic protected areas and culminating in the publication of the symposium proceedings where Brooke was the editor.  Additionally, she has been published in the Gulf of Mexico Science Journal, Fisheries, and the Journal of Information & Knowledge Management, to name a few.  She is currently employed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department as the chief scientist for the Artificial Reef Program where she manages the biological monitoring and science grants for the program. 

2 pm Panel - Kris Sarri

Blue Beacon Series: Save Spectacular with Marine Sanctuaries & Gulf Restoration

Kris joined the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation as President and CEO in October 2016. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Kris formed an early, life-long connection to environmental stewardship growing up surrounded by the Great Lakes. Her interest in marine conservation began when, at nine years old, Kris’ family moved to Australia and she spent endless hours exploring the life in tide pools. Kris’ lifelong passion is finding innovative ways to promote environmental stewardship through community engagement in conservation.

Kris’ career spans over 19 years working on ocean, land and climate policy. Kris most recently worked at the Department of the Interior, where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget from 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining the Department of the Interior, Kris was the Associate Director for Legislative Affairs for the Office of Management and Budget. She also served as Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning for the US Department of Commerce, acting as the Secretary’s principal advisor on the ocean, fisheries, climate, and energy issues, and as a policy liaison for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Kris also spent eight years in the US Senate where she was on the Professional Staff of the Senate Commerce Committee with responsibility for the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee; she was Senior Policy Advisor of the Office of Senator Jack Reed; and the Legislative Director of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition.

Kris received a B.A. in Biology from Washington University, St. Louis and an M.S. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. She is an avid SCUBA diver.

Blue Beacon Series: Save Spectacular with Marine Sanctuaries & Gulf Restoration is hosted by The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The Gulf of Mexico is home to an abundance of wildlife and spectacular wonders. Marine protected areas, like our national marine sanctuaries, play a critical role in protecting biodiversity, wildlife, and habitats. As we celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation invites you to join our conversation on the role of sanctuaries and protected areas in Gulf restoration and beyond. This panel is part of the Foundation's Blue Beacon Series which aims to bring to light the ocean and Great Lakes’ biggest challenges to build communities of support for marine protected areas.

2 pm Panel - Dr. Larry McKinney

Blue Beacon Series: Save Spectacular with Marine Sanctuaries & Gulf Restoration

Dr. Larry McKinney received his PhD in Zoology from Texas A&M University in 1976. He retied as the Senior Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2020 and is currently the Chair for Gulf Strategies at HRI. Prior to joining HRI, Dr. McKinney directed environmental and aquatic programs at Texas Parks and Wildlife, retiring after 23 years of service. As Senior Director for Aquatic Resources, he was responsible for both inland and coastal fisheries.

Over his 50-year career as a researcher and resource manager, McKinney has secured some $186 million in research and conservation funding and spent nearly seven and a half months underwater, completing over 8,000 dives, many of those in MPA’s around the world. Many of those have been in the Gulf of Mexico but he has worked in the Arctic, Antarctic, Caribbean and even the Aral Sea, as well as, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A primary focus in his last years at TPWD was coastal fisheries where he moved traditionally based fisheries management in Texas to an ecosystem-based approach where he established over thirty marine protected areas of various types.

 

Dr. McKinney significantly expanded HRI’s international reach, establishing two international chairs — one in Cuba and one in Mexico. He launched international research projects in both Cuba and Mexico on fisheries development, biodiversity, and coral reefs. Dr. McKinney served on the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee (former chair), and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s Policy Committee. He has served as a member and chair of the Texas Sea Grant Advisory Committee, NASA’s SSC Applied Sciences Steering Committee, the EPA Science Advisory Committee for the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Alliance’s Ecosystem Assessment and Integration Team, and the Texas Academy of Science, where is also a past President. Dr. McKinney serves on the Florida Institute of Oceanography Board of Visitors and Florida’s RESTORE Center of Excellence; the Texas State Aquarium Board; and, Texas State Audubon Board of Directors.

2 pm Panel - Kelly Martin 

Blue Beacon Series: Save Spectacular with Marine Sanctuaries & Gulf Restoration

Kelly is a Program Analyst at NOAA, serving as the Project Manager for the Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities Active Management and Protection project. This project is a part of the effort to restore Gulf ecosystems that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she first developed her passion for the ocean exploring along the coast of California. Kelly attended the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science where she received a Bachelor's of Marine Affairs, and she received a Master's of Marine Affairs from the University of Washington School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Her career includes working as an environmental educator at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas, coordinating a citizen science monitoring program in Washington state, serving as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate, and establishing a marine debris education, outreach, and research program for American Bird Conservancy in the Houston-Galveston region. 

3 pm - Christine Tamburri

 Environmental Stewardship for Divers

Christine Tamburri is the Risk Mitigation Coordinator at Divers Alert Network (DAN). She began diving in 2016 and after graduating from Penn State University in 2020, she decided that a full-time job in the industry was her calling. Christine was a summer intern at DAN and was later hired into her current role where she develops e-learning courses, assists first aid instructors worldwide, and designs risk assessment tools for dive operators and professionals. She also has a passion for educating others on the importance of environmental stewardship. Christine is an avid cave and technical diver who spends every spare moment of her free time either cave diving or planning to go cave diving.

4 pm - Jesse Cancelmo

Using Photography to Capture the Essence of the FGBNMS

Jesse Cancelmo, is an accomplished diver, underwater photographer and author who made his first scuba dive in 1969 on a coral reef in Bermuda. Since that first dive, Jesse has stoked his passion by diving around the globe. His adventures have taken him to World War II wrecks off the New Jersey coast to the coral reefs of Papua New Guinea. His logbook includes dives on the Andrea Doria, the USS Monitor and the 220-ft deep Brine Seep near the East Flower Garden Bank reef.

Jesse was a contributing Editor/Photographer for Dive Training magazine from 1990 to 2020 and his articles and underwater images have appeared in leading wildlife, diving, and news publications including Scuba Diving magazine, BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, USA Today and Newsweek. In 1998, Jesse was trimix certified. He completed Full Cave certification in 2011 to complete a magazine assignment for Texas Parks and Wildlife “Deep, Dark and Dangerous” – December 2011.

 Jesse is the author of four books: Diving Bermuda, Diving Cayman Islands, Texas Coral Reefs, and Glorious Gulf of Mexico, which features images of the coral reefs and marine life of the three countries having shorelines on the Gulf—Mexico, Cuba, and the U.S.

In 2018, Jesse was honored as a Harte Research Institute Champion for the Gulf, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to the betterment of the Gulf of Mexico.  Jesse served as a member of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council from 2011 to 2021, representing the recreational diving community. In 2015, he was named the sanctuary’s volunteer of the year.

Additionally, Jesse is a degreed mechanical engineer and retired from the heavy industrial engineering construction business in 2010 to further his ocean-related activities.

Currents in the Gulf Dinner, Guest Speaker Mehgan Heaney-Grier

Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a pioneering freediver, ocean explorer, and longtime conservationist. With more than 20 years of experience working both above and below the waterline, Mehgan has built a career as a professional speaker, marine educator, podcast host, and television personality.

In 1996, Mehgan made history by establishing the first U.S. freedive record for both men and women, in the constant weight category. 

She has performed underwater stunts for Hollywood films such as: Pirates of the Caribbean and Into the Blue; and has been featured in numerous television shows and publications worldwide such as Life, People and Outside Magazine. Mehgan was recruited by Discovery Channel to be part of an elite team of explorers and starred in their original series, Treasure Quest: Snake Island

Combining her skillset, Mehgan works for the ocean as an advocate and storyteller across multiple media platforms, raising awareness and empowering all to engage in daily life as “IMPERFECT Conservationists”. This is also the title of her original web-series, in which Mehgan delivers a dose of what she likes to call, “conservation empowerment”.

Mehgan holds her degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology, is an original inductee of the Women Diver Hall of Fame since 2000, and a Fellow in The Explorers Club. 

Currents in the Gulf Dinner Sponsored by Divers Alert Network

Guest Speaker - Mehgan Heaney-Grier

7 pm - 10 pm | Viewfinders Terrace on the 9th Floor of the Hotel 

We are thrilled to announce our Currents in the Gulf - Sponsored by DAN invited speaker Mehgan Heaney-Grier for Texas’ first invasive lionfish dinner menu! Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a pioneering freediver, ocean explorer, and longtime conservationist. With more than 20 years of experience working both above and below the waterline, Mehgan has built a career as a professional speaker, marine educator, podcast host, and television personality.

Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a pioneering freediver, ocean explorer, and longtime conservationist. With more than 20 years of experience working both above and below the waterline, Mehgan has built a career as a professional speaker, marine educator, podcast host, and television personality. 

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