Celebrating its 20th year, the OzTek Advanced Diving Conference held its 11th biannual event March 16-17 in the heart of Sydney’s Darling Harbour. The conference, geared toward dedicated scuba and free divers and industry workers, goes, well, far below the surface. OzTek is “designed to inspire and encourage divers to do more, travel more, train more, upgrade equipment more, and learn about new and exciting projects and equipment,” said Sue Crowe, owner of the event. While the conference is created by serious divers for serious divers, Crowe said, “of course, any interested divers and newbies are very welcome.”
An internationally acclaimed speaker-focused program that presents more than 100 TED-style talks, the two-day event “has inspired shows around the world using the same template,” Crowe said. Similar shows now include BalticTek in Poland, Tekdive in Belguim, EuroTek, and TekDiveUSA.
The conference, which attracted 2,176 attendees and 81 exhibitors, covered 10 different learning tracks in its sessions, including cave diving, wreck diving, physiology, technology, and conservation.
According to Crowe, one of the most talked-about sessions at this year’s event centered on the Tham Luang cave rescue that took place in Thailand last year, in which a group of junior soccer team members and their assistant coach were saved by divers after being trapped in a flooded cave for three weeks. Two members of the core dive team, Australians Richard Harris and Craig Challen — who were named the 2019 Australians of the Year — gave a personal account of the rescue.
Another hit session was research scientist Dawn Kernagis’ talk about her experience living and working underseas with astronauts during a mission of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations. “It was said this was the best show to date,” Crowe said, “for the wide range of presentations.”
The event concludes with a gala dinner honoring individuals who have helped push the boundaries of knowledge and exploration in the field, as well as those leading the way in the development and use of new diving technology. “It’s the perfect opportunity,” Crowe said, “to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of Australia’s leading divers and dive-industry personnel.” In other words, those who plumb the depths to reach new heights.
Illustration by Carmen Segovia
Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.