Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences Announces New NOGI Recipients

10/1/2009 11:02:56 AM

The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences (AUAS) welcomed four new NOGI Award Recipients to join the Academy’s roster of the diving elite: Bill Curtsinger (Arts), Dr. Paul Auerbach (Science), Bob and Bill Meistrell (Sports and Education) and Bill High (Distinguished Service).

The new NOGI Recipients will be officially presented with their NOGI Awards at the 2007 NOGI Awards Gala in Orlando, Fla. in November 2007.


Bill Curtsinger is one of the world’s greatest wildlife photographers and one of the few underwater photographers who has captured extensive images of sea life under the polar ice and in Antarctica.

Curtsinger was a member of the elite Navy Photo Unit, Atlantic Fleet Combat Camera Group based at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va., from 1967 to 1970. He graduated from U.S. Navy Dive School in Key West, Fla., Navy Parachute School in Lakehurst, N.J., and attended various U.S. Navy Flight Crew training units in the Norfolk area. For almost four years Bill traveled the world on special assignments for the Commander In Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, and his CO, the great Gerry Pulley.

He won several awards with his coverage of carrier flight operations and Naval aviation and qualified to fly in the F-4 Phantom and A-6 Intruder to carry out his photo assignments. He was made an honorary member of the world famous Red Rippers, U.S. Navy Fighter Squadron VF-11, for his photography of the squadron including the first color front and back covers in Naval Aviation News.

Curtsinger has been a freelance photographer since leaving the U.S. Navy in November, 1970. Bills enormous body of editorial photographic work has focused on underwater, natural history, marine archeology, people, culture, environments and wildlife for many clients. He has photographed 33 articles, (six cover stories) for the National Geographic Magazine, the latest in the June 2003 issue on Harbor Porpoises. The March 1999 issue of Life Magazine has a story Bill photographed on the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Other photographs and stories have been published by Smithsonian, Outside, Time, Newsweek, Audubon, Natural History, Islands, Terre Sauvage, Aqua, Experiment, Unterwasser, Airone, Stern, Geo, Paris Match, New Look, London Sunday Express, Sinra, Shukan Asahi, BBC Wildlife, Bonniers, to name a few. His work is also included in numerous text books, encyclopedias and aquarium displays. Bill is also a regular contributor to Gulf of Maine Research Institute publications and website.


Dr. Paul Auerbach is one of the world’s leading authorities on hazardous marine animals. He is a physician, writer, teacher and researcher who has advanced the field of dive medicine. He champions dive medicine as an integral body of knowledge for physicians, and is a "go to" doctor whenever anyone in the greater dive community needs assistance for his areas of expertise.

Auerbach attended Duke University medical school (1973-77) and served an externship with the Indian Health Service in Montana. During that time, he conceived the concept of wilderness medicine. He completed his Emergency Medicine residency at UCLA from 1978 to 1980 and published the textbook Wilderness Medicine in 1983; the fifth edition will be published in 2007. In 1987, Auerbach published original medical research on bacteriology of the marine environment, which remains the standard for antibiotic selection for treatment of marine-acquired wounds and infections.

Auerbach has several recognitions from the diving and medical industries, including induction as SSI Platinum Pro 5000; Education Award, Wilderness Medical Society; Apex Award of Excellence for A Medical Guide to Hazardous Marine Life; DAN America Award, Divers Alert Network; Outstanding Contribution in Education Award, American College of Emergency Physicians; and Founders Award, Wilderness Medical Society.

Auerbach is clinical professor in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University. Some of his contributions include referral physician to Divers Alert Network, assisting medical professionals and laypersons; contributor to the DAN First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries training program and The DAN Pocket Guide to First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries.

He has been a contributing author for over two decades of definitive medical textbook chapters and original research and clinical reports; articles in the popular press (including Medical Editor, Dive Training Magazine); chapter author in The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving; clinical trials design to evaluate a novel topical jellyfish sting inhibitor; hundreds of lectures at medical education meetings; consultant to the military, including the Special Operations Command; former member of the Committee of Diving Instructional Standards and Safety for the Recreational Scuba Training Council; consultant to Sea Studios (National Geographic television program "Sea Nasties"); and advisor to aquarium directors.

He has also authored two underwater photography books: Diving the Rainbow Reef and An Ocean of Colors; he co-wrote A Colour Atlas of Dangerous Marine Animals.

BILL AND BOB MEISTRELL (Sports and Education)

Bill and Bob Meistrell, twin brothers, were pioneering watermen and lifeguards whose inventions, talents and exploits helped transform surfing and diving into worldwide phenomena and billion-dollar industries. The Meistrell bothers are two of the three watermen named to both the surfing and diving halls of fames. Bill and Bob were born in Booneville, Missouri; Bill on July 30, 1928, and Bob 20 minutes later on July 31st. Bill and Bob started diving as kids in the farm's pond using an oilcan for a helmet and a bicycle pump and a hose for air. Bill and Bob had big dreams as Missouri farmboys.

Said Bob Meistrell: "We had three goals when we were small boys: own a submarine; go deep-sea diving; and treasure-hunting. Somehow we managed all three."

In the 1940s, the twosome were among first crop of Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguards in the 1940s and were among the first generation of California surfers and divers who blazed a path for future generations.

In 1953, the Meistrells bought into their retail store Dive N' Surf in Redondo Beach; the shop was the first and is the oldest surf and dive shop of its kind in the South Bay of Los Angeles. The Meistrells and partner Bev Morgan are best known for inventing in 1953 the first practical wetsuit. Bill Meistrell came up with the phrase "fits like a glove" and Body Glove was born. Body Glove's boned-hand, which he helped design, is one of the most globally recognized brand logos.

Dive N' Surf's owners provided equipment and custom wetsuits for "Sea Hunt," the TV show that made Lloyd Bridges a star. The custom wetsuit sported by Bridges was integral to his character. They have been involved in dozens of movies since. The duo taught numerous celebrities including the entire Bridges family to dive.

The two were recognized with the SIMA (Surf Industry Manufactuer's Association) Lifetime Achievement Award at the Waterman's Ball in 2003.

Bill Meistrell died in 2006.

WILLIAM (BILL) L. HIGH (Distinguished Service)

Bill High is President of PSI, Inc., a training company for inspectors of high pressure cylinders. Located near Seattle, Washington, he began training cylinder inspectors in 1983 and set the industry standard for technical inspections. High is the senior consultant to more than 70 cylinder inspector trainers in North America and at numerous international locations. He is a consultant to the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

Trained as a marine scientist, Bill worked for more than 37 years in the marine science field using scuba and advanced diving systems as essential research tools. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Bill introduced and promoted diving to numerous marine science agencies that had not yet learned of the merits and value of scuba as a research tool. He served as the national diving officer for both the US Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the National Marine Fisheries Service as well as NOAA's first National Diving Coordinator.

High wrote the first scientific diving regulations for each agency; he led four first mission saturation scientific diving programs (Tektite, Hydrolab, Edalhab, and Helgoland) and directed five major deep submersible research expeditions in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. He served as a diving consultant to the United Nations.

High is a prolific writer with more than 160 articles and five books authored or co-authored. His latest book, BENEATH THE SEA- A Sampling of Diving and Other Adventures, recounts many of his technical diving experiences. His book INSPECTING CYLINDERS is the gas industry standard for cylinder safety inspections. The majority of his more than 160 published articles promoted dive industry safety.

Certified as NAUI Instructor #175 in 1961, High worked for many years as NAUI’s North Pacific Branch manager (10 years), Member of the Board of Directors (8 years), President (4 years), Board of Advisors (10 years), Director of International Affairs (3 years) and other duties. He trained more than 8,000 basic, and advanced divers before focusing his efforts to promote cylinder safety through technical visual inspections.

High has trained more than 3,000 professional cylinder inspectors and federal hydrostatic re-testers. For many years he was a hyperbaric chamber operator, inside medic or supervisor at the Pacific Northwest’s regional chamber facility.

A genuine pioneer in the field international diving, he has contributed immeasurably to diving during 50 years of recreational diving, educational diving, scientific diving and technical diving support.

He continues as an active diving industry consultant, lecturing audiences worldwide.

High’s awards for service to diving have been many including lifetime achievement awards from both NAUI and PADI. He has been honored by inter-state safety agencies, state and community groups. He is the recipient of NOGI awards for Sports Education (1964) and Science (1991).