The National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS) is an organization of African American divers interested in promoting awareness and providing education about scuba diving and aquatic environments in the black community. This national organization brings together individuals and local diving clubs to address interests and concerns of black divers as well as to promote fellowship and exchange of skills and experiences.
The NABS was established in January of 1991 by Dr. José Jones and Ric Powell. Members of Jones' Underwater Adventure Seekers-a club with over thirty years of diving experiences and a distinguished history, founded by Jones in Washington D.C.-provided the initial support and core charter membership for the NABS. Jones is an avid diver and spearfisher as well as a distinguished marine biologist. He constantly competes and places in scuba events. As a marine scholar, he has published in his field and has produced various slide and video series. He is also a widely respected diving instructor with certifications from the Atlantic Skin Diving Council (ASDC), Confédération Mondiale des Activités Sub-aquatiques (CMAS), and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). He has trained over two thousand divers worldwide and is often referred to as the “black Jacques Costeau.” NABS co-founder Ric Powell is also an active and dedicated scuba diving instructor with certifications from the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and PADI. He has been an instructor at various academic institutions including the California State University and the University of South Florida in Tampa. His efforts have provided many students who might not have had the opportunity otherwise with scuba diving instruction and experiences. Powell has been especially recognized for his work with inner-city youth.
In 1991 Jones, Powell, and the Underwater Adventure Seekers organized a conference in Washington, D.C., on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to charter the NABS. The conference attracted divers and interested individuals from California, Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The PADI headquarters and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) provided financial support to the NABS.
Since its inception, the NABS has organized over fifty diving clubs nationwide. The organization is dedicated to providing networking opportunities for divers and clubs. For instance, the NABS sponsors an annual Dive Summit to foster interaction and cooperation between clubs. The Summit is an opportunity for NABS members to participate in a variety of diving trips and learning experiences. Past summits have been held in Ft. Lauderdale, Nassau, and Cozumel.
The NABS is a strong promoter of scuba diving awareness in the African American community. To this end, the NABS sponsors various activities. It develops and implements educational programs and provides a clearinghouse for safety and technical information. The NABS, through its annual Dive Summit and other events, sponsors trips and overseas excursions that individual clubs very often would not be able to undertake on their own. The NABS also provides scholarships for students interested in marine and environmental sciences. Overall, NABS members find in the organization a national network of fellow divers with whom they can
National Association of Black Scuba Divers