||Martha Watkins Gilkes
|Press Release: Wylan
The WYLAND ICON AWARD has been
presented to Martha Watkins Gilkes for achievements in marine conservation efforts.
Martha Watkins Gilkes was presented with the prestigious WYLAND ICON AWARD during the
annual DIVING EQUIPMENT MANUGRECTURS SHOW (DEMA) in Las Vegas Nevada, November 18th,
2010., during a a black tie gala hosted by the Academy of Underwater Science and Arts.
The WYLAND ICON AWARD, presented annually to luminaries and pioneers of ocean conservation
recognizes the achievements of those who have made a positive difference for the
underwater world. Internationally acclaimed marine artist, WYLAND founded the award in
2002 to acknowledge individuals who exemplify the adventurous spirit of the ocean and
inspire others to do the same. Gilkes is the 6th woman to receive the icon award and joins
such notables as Jacques Cousteau, Lloyd Bridges, Zale Parry of SEA HUNT, and Robert
Ballard of Titanic fame.
For over 30 years Gilkes has been a leader in dive retail operation, training, education,
photojournalism, historic shipwreck documentation and marine conservation. From her
Antigua, West Indies home base she owns and operates two diving businesses FANTA-SEA
ISLAND DIVERS, a retail scuba diving shop providing training and certification and
FANTA-SEA ISLAND EXCURSIONS, a travel company specializing in exclusive travel to remote
dive locations throughout the Eastern Caribbean and world wide.
She is a leading diver/explorer of the Eastern Caribbean, having explored and documented
shipwrecks on 14 Caribbean Islands and worldwide and is the author of DIVING GUIDE TO THE
EASTERN CARIBBEAN and SHIPWRECKS OF THE CARIBBEAN. She has published numerous articles and
photographs and is featured in DIVING WITH LEGENDS, a unique book sponsored by the Swiss
Company, DOXA WATCHES featuring some of the worlds top professional divers and
legends of the diving world. (http://www.divingwithlegends.com/)
Martha has logged over 12,000 dives in a wide variety of marine environments and has
numerous instructor and specialty ratings in scuba diving. She is considered one of the
premier underwater guides in the Caribbean and has led underwater expeditions for such
notables as diving legend Stan Waterman, Teddy Tucker, and the late great Peter Benchley.
Since 1981, Martha has worked as an underwater model and photo and dive assistant to Stan
Waterman on locations around the world as well as with several noted British
For 10 years she served as President of the Barbados based Eastern Caribbean Safe Diving
Association and played a key role in obtaining the first recompression chamber in the
Southern Caribbean. She serves as the Diving Liaison Officer for the Historical and
Archeological Society of Antigua and Barbuda and holds membership in The Historical Diving
Society, American Society of Media Photographers, the Explorers Club, and is a Platinum
Pro 5000 Diver. She served as President of the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) for 4
years and is presently Fund Raising Chair for WDHOF.
One of Marthas most important contributions to diving is marine conservation, for
which she has been an outspoken force throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Martha serves as
Public Relations Officer (since 2001) of Antigua Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion
Corporation (ABITPC), an environmental organization, and led 3 national clean ups of
Antigua and legal action which resulted in the Government of Antigua rescinding a license
to capture 12 wild dolphins annually and the eventual closure of an inferior captive
dolphin facility on the island of Antigua.
She is a major player in local, regional, international conferences against dolphin and
whale exploitation. Her advocacy speeches to protect ocean inhabitants can be heard on
radio and television newscasts. In 2006, Martha was listed in the United Nations
Environmental Programmes Who's Who of Women and the Environment, (http://www.unep.org/women_env/w_details.asp?w_id=404) and she co-produced, with HAMA Productions,
the Caribbean documentary, "Whaling in Our Waters. The anti-whaling cause has
been one Martha has been very actively involved in which has included the production of 3
Public service announcements aired throughout the Caribbean
In May, 2009, Martha was presented the Wyland Ambassador Award for her environmental work.
It was awarded by Wyland after she implemented and organized the painting of a life size
marine mural in Antigua by Wyland. The event included 150 school children on the island of
Antigua painting with Wyland, with the events main focus on marine conservation.
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