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Paddy Ryan



Paddy did his first dive in December 1977 and has been diving pretty much ever since. He has now logged close to 1000 dives in a variety of habitats ranging from the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands to the equatorial tropics. He's written three books with a strong diving component. The first, Fiji's Natural Heritage includes the marine environment in a general over view of Fiji nature. The Snorkeller's Guide to the Coral Reef followed and then he wrote Fiordland Underwater: New Zealand's Hidden Wilderness with friend and colleague Chris Paulin. He is currently working on Fiji Underwater: A Guide to Fijian Marine Life.

Paddy is a full professor at the Denver campus of Johnson & Wales University and an Associate Adjunct Professor at the Colorado School of Mines. It goes without saying that he is a keen nature photographer. He has also been known to enjoy the occasional microbrew and the occasional glass of wine.

He is married to the long suffering Kathy (see below). He has two children, Sarah (21) and Lucy (19) who live with their Mom in New Zealand.


Photo courtesy of Dave Herrick

Kathy Ryan




Kat snorkeled in New Zealand's Fiordland while on a dive trip organized by Chris Paulin and Paddy. This trip had the unfortunate result (for Kathy) of her eventually marrying Paddy and the fortunate result of stimulating her to learn to dive. Since that time Kat has recorded over 100 dives in Fiji, Belize, Cozumel and Florida. Kathy currently teaches math at Front range Community College and at several institutions that teach online. She is also the owner of Pacific Island Books (www.pacificislandbooks.com) another result of meeting Paddy ...

Kathy is a book-lover but laments that she doesn't get enough time to read. She is also an inveterate traveler having been on such exotic trips as a cruise on the Nile and a visit to the Seychelles ('cos it sounded interesting). She has two daughters, Becca and Sarah, both of whom are accomplished divers. Kat hates diving with Paddy and wants a dive buddy.




Robin Ekholm



I am an Osteopathic Family Physician in practice for 24 years in both Family Practice and Urgent Care. I presently work in a community clinic and teach part time at the Osteopathic Medical School in Northern California. I have been diving since, as they said in Hawaii, "diving was dangerous and sex was safe". I got certified in a stone quarry in South Dakota and then got my experience diving every weekend for 3 years out of Miami Florida. I maintained my own 100 gallon salt water aquarium while going to nursing school. Those dive sites included Bimini, the Keys, and the Virgin Islands. I then went to Medical School and dived the Turk & Caicos Islands, Grand Cayman, Cancun and Hawaii. In 2006 I joined Paddy's group for 17 dives in Belize and again this year (2007) in Fiji where I was trip physician. I will be trip physician again for West Papua and expect to not have to work very hard as you will all be safe and well! Right?






Shannon Mayes




I’m Shannon Mayes and I have been diving since 1998.  I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 dives, probably more, but I have not logged all of my dives.  I met Paddy and Kathy in 1999.  I am a former student of Paddy (Metropolitan State College of Denver) and went on my first dive trip to Fiji with Paddy and Kathy in 1999.  I went to Fiji this year (2007) on my 8th dive trip with Paddy.  Paddy, Kathy and I have become good friends over the years, to the point that Kathy’s departing words for me are usually, “don’t let him do anything too stupid.” 

I am currently unemployed and am working on my master’s degree at the University of Denver, which I will finish in May, 2008 … just in time for New Guinea! If anyone knows of a good job for someone with great office skills please let me know.





Dave Herrick

Dave is what we call a "slack bastard" down under. He has only just responded to my email requesting a bio. Dave has tied with Shannon for coming on nine of Paddy's ten annual dive trips. Dave can always be relied on to have a beer with me (so I don't drink alone) and has never ever turned down a dive when requested. He is good to dive with as his bald pate can be seen from some distance away. On occasion high flying aircraft have mistaken it for an airport landing light.

Dave is an excellent underwater photographer (still using his trusty Nik 5 as far as I know) and a very experienced diver (he's been diving since 1975). He's been to Sulawesi, Fiji and Belize with me and has dived extensively down the east coast. In real life Dave works as Assistant Principal in a special education program for emotionally disturbed secondary students yet still manages to remain more or less sane.

In addition to diving, Dave's interests include drinking, photography, playing guitar, boating and travel.



Ken Brand



I met Ken in 2004 when he was working at Bamboo Reef Resort in Fiji. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. So far Ken has been on the 2005 Fiji trip, the 2006 Belize trip and Fiji in 2007. Ken is going to write his own bio (so he says) but his presence on this trip is so important I wanted to get this up asap. Ken is a PADI Dive Instructor and will be happy to take folk for their open water certification if they choose to do it in New Guinea instead of the US.

Ken is an ex Vietnam veteran ( a radio operator I think), an ex-Highway patrolman, he sails yachts and has his private pilot's license and he can fix anything on the planet. He also has infinite patience and loves to help learners. The only thing wrong with him is that he doesn't like Fiji Bitter (but he does like single malts so he isn't all bad).








Mike Agnew



Mike Agnew, his email address is slightlymadmike@yahoo.com, I doubt the "slightly" monniker. Mike is a crazy Scotsman currently living in Fiji where he owns Viti Water Sports. He was a Captain in the British Army (who had just won the war) and is also a yacht Captain thingy as well as being a PADI dive instructor. He's also got a mail order pastor certification so his full title is Cap'n Cap'n Rev Mike Agnew. I've only known Mike around three years but he has rapidly become one of my best friends (poor bugger). He was our dive master for the 2004 dive trip, joined us for the first half of the 2005 Fiji trip and came with us to Belize in 2006. In 2007 we spent the first half of our dive vacation at Mike's dive  outfit at Waisalima on the Fijian island of Kadavu. He's married to the long-suffering and inestimably patient Molly and is partial to a single malt (usually several).

He's really sad that Scotland play such crap rugby.





Don Taylor and Erin Greene

Don (the ugly one on the left) is the owner and proprietor and in general, the Big Wig of an IT Consulting company (he is a major nerd).  His nickname is BUG (Big Ugly Guy) and he loves baseball and a good laugh. He'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed it (unless he has a sunburn or sensitive about his Man-Boobs
that day). Hard pressed to find time for vacationing, this trip will be a welcome bit of R&R from the business. He took his open water in Hawaii about 10 years ago. He'll try almost anything once, including squid ink rice in Spain. He is a real wimp when it comes to small planes and high places.

Erin (the gorgoues one on the right) is currently contracting at the State of Colorado's Human Services Department.  Don found the job so she'd be too busy to get into trouble. Her favorite activities are travel, travel, and travel. She'd go to Topeka if given the chance. She and Don took an African safari earlier this year for her 50th. It was wonderful! Currently, she is learning how to shoot skeet and is taking photography classes so she can graduate from the rather complicated 'point and shoot ' method. She also enjoys snowshoeing and reading non-fiction.  She learned to dive in college Phys. Ed. a million years ago and gets a kick out of night dives.  Her last dive trip was to Akumal (wherever the hell that is) with Don.

Welcome aboard guys (Paddy).


Dave and Helen Hassall

I've known Dave and Helen longer than anyone else on this page. I first met Dave in 1978 when we both taught at the University of the South Pacific. Despite Dave being an arrogant Aussie bastard we became friends. After three years Dave went back to Australia on sabbatical, met up with friend Helen and ended up marrying her in what both described as "A triumph of optimism over experience". He also moved back to Brisbane, went back to school to study landscape architecture and started successful landscaping and nursery businesses. Quite a move for guy with a doctorate in plant taxonomy.

Helen, once a school teacher, nurtured son Christopher and daughter Leah into independence. Both are finishing their university degrees. Dave must have attributes I can't see, because this stunning woman is still with him. Helen is a great cook (chef) and can knock back wine with the best of us. She introduced me to Etta James which is what good friends do. I will always cherish that Dave and Helen didn't pick sides during my divorce. I wish more people were that mature.

Dave is cutting back on his work commitments to spend more time with Helen and to gallivant around the world (he just came back from a trip to Madagascar). He also does international environmental consultancy, most recently in the Pacific Island nation of Nauru.

Neither Dave nor Hellion has a current dive qualification. Dave has been diving for many years but has finally decided to become legal. Helen is totally at home in the water and has been snorkelling for years so I don't anticipate any problems. I am really excited they are joining us. Welcome aboard old buddies.


Courtney Mitros

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Great Raja Ampat Dive Adventure




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