Dinah and Bob Halstead pioneered the dive scene in Papua New Guinea and educated the world as to just how good "Diving in Papua New Guinea" really is.
Dinah was born and educated in PNG and received her Diploma in
Teaching from Goroka Teacher's College (University of PNG) in 1974.
She met Bob the next year and he taught her to dive. They were
married in 1976. From 1975 until 1980 she worked as a research
officer on the personal staff of the then Prime Minister of Papua New
Guinea, Sir Michael Somare.
Dinah became the first Papua New Guinean to become an internationally certified Diving Instructor (NAUI) in 1982, and has been taking underwater photographs since 1980.
Bob was educated in England and has a BSc Honours degree in physics/
mathematics from King's College London University and a post graduate
Certificate in Education from Bristol University.
He learned to dive in the Bahamas in 1968 where he was employed as Head of the Physics Department at Queen's College, Nassau. He bought his first underwater
camera the same year and qualified as a NAUI Diving Instructor in
Bob and Dinah's first Papua New Guinea purpose – built day dive boat "Solatai" was state of the art for Papua New Guinea at the time.
Hardly a liveaboard BUT it certainly worked great for diving Bootless Bay, around Loloata Island and Horseshoe Reef and pioneering the Milne Bay camping trips.
It is still operating out of Bootless Bay, run by the now owners of the Port Moresby Dive shop.
He came to PNG as an Education Officer for the Australian
Government in 1973 and taught mathematics and science for five years,
ending his teaching career as Head of the Science Department at
Sogeri National High School where responsibilities included writing
science curriculum for Provincial High Schools.
( photo: Neville Coleman – Tube Tube Island, Milne Bay, PNG 1981 )
Tropical Diving Adventures
Dinah and Bob formed PNG's first full time sport diving business,
Tropical Diving Adventures in 1977 based in Port Moresby, worked
together from 1980, and, in 1986, started the first live-aboard dive
boat operation, the highly successful Telita Cruises, with the 20
metre dive charter vessel, the MV Telita, a boat built in PNG to
their specifications and under their personal supervision.
In 1992 Telita was voted "Best Liveaboard Dive Boat in the World" by readers of "In Depth" Magazine USA.
Besides being an enthusiastic adventurer, Bob Halstead is a great exponent of underwater photography and as such discovered and photographed many new species.
Unfortunately he was never credited for some of his discoveries because of his conservation based nature that didn't allow him to collect the specimen at the time. Today, many of his discoveries are only just now being described, 30 years after he found and photographed them.
First discovered and photographed by Bob in the early 1980's, his images of the newly described Severns's Pygmy Sea Horse Hippocampus severnsi are still the most representative of the species. Certainly beats the pants off mine.
( photo: Neville Coleman)
Bob and Dinah have cruised Telita throughout all the coastal regions
of PNG and have jointly made over 15,000 dives in the process. They
have discovered several marine species new to science.
A Sand diver fish, Trichonotus halstead, was named after them in 1996, a Goby
Lubricogobius dinah named after Dinah in 2002, and Bob has a new
species of Razor fish named after him, Xyrichtys halsteadi.
Bob has won several gold medals in international underwater photographic competitions including Australasian Underwater Photographer of the year 1983.
My very first experience with Hump – back Cowries Mauritia mauritiana was courtesy of Bob who had learn't where to find them from Dinah's people who had been collecting cowries ( especially money cowries) for thousands of years.
( photo: Bob Halstead Milne Bay, PNG 1981)
Dinah has also won prizes for her underwater photographs in international
competitions. They have published numerous popular and technical
articles on diving in PNG for various magazines including:- Paradise
Magazine (PNG), Sportdiving, Journal of the South Pacific Underwater
Medicine Society and Scuba Diver (Australia), Skin Diver Magazine,
Ocean Realm and Scuba Times (USA), Tauchen Magazine (Germany), and
Asian Diver (Singapore). Bob writes a monthly column "The Adult
Section" for Australasian Dive Log.
In 2008 Bob was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of
Fame. Bob and Dinah have a photographic library of over 60,000 images
representing a unique catalogue of Papua New Guinea Marine Life.