Bob Halstead

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Bob Halstead
Bob Halstead.JPG
Bob Halstead
Born (1944-10-24)24 October 1944
London, England
Residence Cairns, Australia
Nationality British, now Australian
Known for Underwater photography, diving publications, dive industry entrepreneurship, diving commentary
Awards International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, 2008

Bob Halstead (born 24 October 1944) has made significant contributions to the sport of scuba diving in a multitude of capacities: photographer, author of eight diving books, early innovator in the development of dive tourism, pioneer in the dive liveaboard industry, diving instructor and educator, marine-life explorer and influential diving industry commentator. An ardent diver since 1968, Halstead has over 10,000 logged dives.


Halstead was born and raised in London, England. As a young boy he grew to love water sports, especially swimming and canoeing. By chance his chosen career in science and teaching placed him where that passion for water sports could fully blossom into a lifetime pursuit. By getting a post teaching in the Bahamas, Halstead was introduced to scuba diving.[1] Progressing through a range of certifications with NAUI, he became a diving instructor there. Fortune again led him to a job in what is acknowledged as one of the greatest dive locations in the world - Papua New Guinea (PNG). There he continued his diving avocation as a diving instructor. He met his future wife Dinah (also a teacher), as his student on a diving course he was teaching. They were married in 1976. Dinah went on to become the first New Guinean to become a full dive instructor and a noted underwater photographer in her own right. The couple left the teaching profession together to make a full-time career in scuba diving.[2]


Bob Halstead has a scientific background, having studied both Physics and Mathematics at university level. He earned his degree in Physics from the King's College London, and then went on to take a post-graduate degree in Education at Bristol University. He continued his academic path by taking the position of Head of the Physics Department at Queens College, Nassau in 1968. It was in the Bahamas that Halstead fell in love with the undersea world. By 1970 he had advanced his diving qualifications to the level of Instructor with NAUI. In 1973 he moved on to take an educational post with the Australian Government, taking a post as Head of the Science Department at the Sogen National High School Papua New Guinea (PNG) .


Teaching - Science and Scuba[edit]

Halstead's career made a steady transition from full-time Science Teacher and Educator and part-time scuba instructor, to one of a totally dedicated dive journalist, author, and underwater photographer after his original career of Science Educator took him to Papua New Guinea in the early 1970s. Halstead had arrived in a divers paradise, but at this time hardly anything was known of the dive sites of the region, and certainly no real diving infrastructure existed to allow other divers to enjoy what the region had to offer. Halstead set out to change all this.

Pioneer in the Dive Travel Industry[edit]

With his wife he began a major program to explore and categorise the many uncharted and untouched dive sites of the region, all the time with camera in hand to capture images of these stunning locations. In 1977 Halstead harnessed this knowledge as he established the very first diving and training center for the area in Port Moresby. Halstead and his wife also purchased and fitted out the regions first dive boat - the Solatai. The Halsteads were at the forefront of defining the formula for what would become organized dive tourism - the diver service industry that opens up access to a world of diving locations for the population of scuba divers today. Halsteads approach was a "diving camp" and "Diver adventure safaris" through his company Tropical Diving Adventures. As dive tourism developed into the first "live-aboard" operations in the Aggressor Fleet (1984) and in Mike Ball Expeditions (1981), Halstead went on to commission and build the first live-aboard vessel for PNG - the dive cruiser Telita. He then sold his business interests ashore to concentrate in this expanding new live-aboard business area and spent the next ten years helping to make New Guinea one of the world premier dive locations. Bob and his wife actually made the Telita their home in this period.[3]

Photography and marine research[edit]

Bob Halstead has won a number of gold medals for his photography, both above and below the surface of the sea. His published photographs are some of the most striking images of the underwater world. Through his interest in both underwater photography and marine life Halstead began a lifetime focus on the study and photography of marine creatures that resided in the sediment on the ocean floor - and he defined and propagated the practise of what he himself named "muck diving", which has become a significant sub-practise in the general field of underwater photography.[4][5] Halstead was involved in a number of scientific expeditions in PNG, including ones carried out for the Cousteau Society and National Geographic. In the explorations carried out in the general area of marine biology he identified several new and unknown species of marine life, which later were named after him; Trichonotus halstead and Xyrichtys halsteadi. In 1996 Halstead sold his business interests in PNG and focussed more on his marine exploration and photography pursuits and to take up residence in Cairns Australia.[6]


Although noted for serious and insightful analysis of diving practises, much of Halstead's writing is also noted for some of its sidesplitting humor. A few quotes:' "Never Dive Deeper Than Your IQ (Imperial units)"[7] "If I do not log my sex life, why should I log my dive life?"[8] "Safe diving, from my personal experience, involves avoiding other divers underwater as much as possible"[9] "As soon as you step near a full scuba cylinder you are at risk... every step that you take getting to, on and into the water increases that risk"[10] "If you can’t take a joke, do not take up underwater photography"[11] '

Halstead is one of the dive industries most prolific journalists. He has published hundreds of articles in numerous dive magazines and is a steady contributor to Undercurrent, one of the dive industries most noted and fiercely independent scuba journals. His writing style is highly readable and good humoured, but still, he also never shies away from controversial subjects.[12] Halstead is particularly noted for his very well thought out and insightful views on diving practices, particularly as they relate to diving risk and diver safety. His contributions in these areas has done much to change the face of present-day diving practise, particularly with respect to altering attitudes[13] about questionable buddy diving practises,[14] and in the destigmatizing the practise of solo diving. He was an early proponent and spokesperson on the subject of diver self-sufficiency, a concept that has moved into mainstream thinking in scuba diving practise.


Diving instructor[edit]


  • Australasian Underwater Photographer of the year award, 1983
  • "Telita" voted "Best Live-aboard Dive Boat in the World" 1992, In Depth Magazine
  • Inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, 2008

Select publications[edit]


  • Coral Sea Reef Guide Hardcover,. Sea Challengers Natural History,. 2000. ISBN 0-9700574-0-7. 
  • Diving & Snorkeling Papua New Guinea. Lonely Planet Publications,. 1999. ISBN 0-86442-776-X. 
  • Diving Papua New Guinea Hardcover,. Air Niugini, Port Moresby,. 1994. 
  • M/V TELITA & MINISUB (in Paradise) Hardcover,. Air Niugini,. 1987. 
  • Asian Diver Scuba Guide to Papua New Guinea –. Asian Diver,. 1996. 
  • Great Barrier Reef ,. Souvenir Books,. 1999. ISBN 97806 4628 2480. 
  • Tropical Diving Adventures –. Robert Brown,. 1977. ISBN 0-909093-18-0. 
  • The Coral Reefs of Papua New Guinea –. Adventures S.r.l.,. 1998. 

Article Publications

  • Skin Diver Magazine
  • Paradise Magazine (PNG)
  • Sportdiving
  • Undercurrent
  • Journal of the South Pacific Underwater
  • Medicine Society and Scuba Diver (Australia)
  • Ocean Realm Magazine
  • Scuba Times
  • Tauchen Magazine (Germany)
  • Asian Diver
  • The Australasian Dive Log


  1. ^ staff (Bottom Time). "At the Back of the Boat - Bob Halstead". Scuba Diving Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  2. ^ Coleman, Neville. "Bob & Dinah Halstead - Pioneer Underwater Explorers/Underwater Photographers". Neville Coleman's World of Water. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  3. ^ International Scuba Diver Hall of Fame. "Induction Biography - Bob Halstead". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  4. ^ Rock, Tim (2010). Lonely Planet Diving & Snorkeling Philippines. Lonely Planet Publications. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  5. ^ Jackson, Jack (2005). Complete Diving Manual. New Holland (Publishers) Ltd. Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  6. ^ staff. "Background Biography". Bob Halstead Diving. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  7. ^ Halstead, Bob. "PAPARASEA". Halstead Diving. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  8. ^ Halstead, Bob (1998). "Asking the right questions.". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 28 (3). Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  9. ^ Halstead, Bob (1997). "Assume the risk and take the blame.". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 27 (3). Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  10. ^ Halstead, Bob (1990). "Philosophy section (Skip if sober)". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 20 (1). Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  11. ^ Halstead, Bob (October 1999). "If you can't take a joke". DIVE Log Australasia: 52. 
  12. ^ Halstead, Bob. "Views and Blogs - Halstead". Undercurrent Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  13. ^ "Editorial Review: On Your Own - Revisited". X-ray Mag (Diving Lifestyle). October 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  14. ^ Verdier, Cedric (2006-06-13). "How to Make Solo Rebreather Diving Safer?". Retrieved 2012-01-05.