Cultural Research Divers has been bringing our
Research Diving programs to schools and other educational venues since 1987. We've been instrumental in many of the positive changes in our community--environmental, economic, and developmental. We've brought our discoveries to thousands of children throughout all of New York, in an effort to share our knowledge of the ocean and our love for our historic shorelines.
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Gene Ritter has been diving and studying marine life, environmental conditions, and changes for 31 years—while discovering historical artifacts of our country’s past. As
a Commercial Diver and a proud member of his union, Local 1456 (Divers, Piledrivers, and Dockbuilders), he
contributes to the building and rebuilding of the infrastructures and foundations of New York’s shorelines. While Gene is passionate about his work, he’s also passionate about history,
and has been featured in prime time newscasts such as ABC, CBS, NBC, NY1, for his historical dives and underwater findings. He has been the subject of featured articles in the
New York Times, and other newspapers and trade magazines. Among his underwater
discoveries are the remnants of Fort Lafayette, a Civil War confederate prison. Gene found
the sunken island along with the fort, built by Robert E. Lee, Exploring a different area,
he found a lost submarine, originally built to dive the ill-fated Andrea Doria. He also found the remains of the 150-year-old Dreamland Pier Piles in Coney Island. He has provided many fascinating links to our country's past.
Gene has brought many artifacts into schools, in an effort to impart his passion for history.
In 1998, former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden awarded him with a citation for his
"Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Brooklyn’s History."
Certified Basic level at the age of 16, became an instructor at the age of 22.
In 1979 attended Commercial Diving School in New York. Lenny has worked
in the recreational and commercial diving field ever since. His list of clients
includes the Diving Equipment Marketing Association, several local dive
retailers, and several diving engineering houses in Connecticut. He is
currently certified to work on nearly every brand of diving equipment
currently on the market. He has over 17,000 repairs to date as of 2003. He is
also a member of the Historical Diving Society and the Northeast Equipment
Diving Group. Lenny Speregen has also performed on television shows and
in the movies as a stunt actor. His list of credits include Miami Vice, Bette
Middler's Artyfacts, Nickelodeon’s Pete-n-Pete, as well as numerous
When he is not diving, you can find him at the local dive shop talking diving,
breathing diving, and wherever possible playing with some new dive toy.
Beth J.P. Ritter is a published artist and writer, and Resident Artist of
Cultural Research Divers. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, she's illustrated many children's educational publications and greeting cards over the years. Her articles, written
mostly about personal experiences, convey her unique viewpoints of life. Beth has taught
in both elementary and junior high schools, and enjoyed many opportunities to impart her
love of all living things-- often expressed through art. "My Dad taught me early on
that all animals are beautiful; none of them are ugly." These days, she's found a passion for drawing underwater artifacts and vintage diving equipment. She loves drawing the historic artifacts, with all their details and imperfections". While drawing them, she feels more
connected to their histories. "It's fascinating to consider that I'm holding and drawing
this artifact that someone held well over a hundred years ago. My contact and documentation
of it makes me part of its new history." As for drawing the vintage diving equipment?
"That's just fun."
e- mail pozyaquaGTR@aol.com
Retired police officer Louis Scarcella was born in Coney Island on October 9th, 1951. "My dad was a cop in Coney Island in 1954," he says, which naturally inspired him to join law enforcement. Louie enlisted in the United States Navy in 1968. He entered the Navy's Special Warfare School, spending two years in Swiftboats, patrolling the Coronado, California waters. Lou entered the Police Academy in 1972. He spent 22 years in various Homicide Squads in Brooklyn. His last command was at the Brooklyn North Squad. Louie, a husband and father of three daughters, was elected President of the famous Coney Island Polar Bear Club in April 2003. When people ask him why the Polar Bears swim in the wintry cold water, he says, "It's a celebration of life." He continues, "When you are in the water you know you are alive. It is also great for the mind and body. We also believe it strengthens the immune system. We have some of the greatest and most interesting people in the club."
Louie is currently a proud member of our elite research diving team.
Lou Siegel is currently an adjunct professor at both Dowling College
in the Department of Earth and Marine Sciences and at S.U.N.Y.
Farmingdale in the Biology Department. His teaching load includes
such courses as Biology, Physical and Environmental Sciences and Marine Biology. In June of 2003 he retired from 36 years as a teacher
and Science Chairperson on the high school level. During this time he was: an
early author and teacher of the New York City Marine Biology curriculum
which was offered at the experimental John Dewey High School in Brooklyn; Chairperson of the Department of Science and Oceanography at
Beach Channel High School in Queens; and Chairperson of the Science and Technology Department at Oceanside High School on Long Island. At
each site Lou not only met students during the school year but also more
often than not, organized and taught summer ecology and marine science courses. Lou was a founder, past president and active board member in the 30 year old New York State Marine Education Association. He has chaired several of their annual student and teacher conferences and is currently web master of the http://nysmea.orgweb page. Lou edited "Learning in the Estuary," a compilation of lesson plans, in 2002. Lou has long been involved in pre- and in-service teacher education. Most recently, his course Shipboard Marine Science has been taken by a large cross-section of teachers and environmental educators. Research projects have included studies of marsh grass, (Spartina alterniflora) and the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus.)
Lou's interests include photography, sailing, and kayaking and he has reportedly been seen fishing for striped bass.
B.S. Biology, Hunter College, C.U.N.Y.
M.S. Marine Science, C.W. Post, L.I.U.
P.D. Educational Administration, C.W. Post, L.I.U.
Bernie Chowdhury wears many hats in the diving world.
He is internationally known as the author of the award winning,
non-fiction book, The Last Dive (Harper Collins), which has been translated into ten foreign languages. He is the founder and
publisher of “immersed: the international diving magazine”
which is now in its ninth year of publishing. Bernie is an active
scuba instructor, a cave and wreck diver who has specialized in cold water diving over the past twenty years. He has led recreational
and expedition diving in local (NE USA) waters, as well as overseas. His underwater explorations have taken him around the world.
He has explored such diverse sites as caves in Iceland,
the wreck of the “Andrea Doria,” Mexico’s caves, wrecks in the Norwegian arctic, and to depths of over 300 feet, to name only a few of his underwater accomplishments.
Bernie has been a Fellow of the Explorers Club since 1995, and is on the Board of Directors of the
Historical Diving Society. In 2001, he was named “Diver of the Year for Education” by Beneath the Sea, which holds North America’s largest consumer scuba diving conference and exhibition (in NJ’s Meadowlands).
He is a hyperbaric medical technician, and is regularly featured on ScubaRadio’s “Tech Talk with Bernie” segment. Bernie Chowdhury is also a popular and engaging speaker who presents at diving venues around the world.
Retired Police Officer Captain Michael Carew has been a certified diver since 1973. During his Southampton College years, Mike worked as a salvage diver, doing underwater repairs and working on charter boats. He became a New York City Police Officer in 1982. The following year, he was assigned to the SCUBA Team, Harbor Patrol Unit. While on this team, Mike made many rescues and recoveries. During one rescue, Mike saved a commercial diver, who was trapped under a 60-ton concrete slab/pile.
On another rescue, his heroic efforts gained national attention in 1986, when he saved a three-year-old girl, who was trapped underwater in a car for an hour. Because he saved the child, Mike appeared on TV and newspapers, and was recognized as a national hero. Mike was there to respond to the aircraft disasters at La Guardia Airport in 1989, rescuing passengers out of the churning waters of Hell Gate.
Mike has been a Master Diving Instructor since 1987. In 1988, he was promoted to Detective Specialist. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100 Gross Ton Captain's License. Currently, he is the owner of on City Island, where he has a full dive- training facility, and operates dive boat charters.
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Don and Bob Rusnak
Ida Todd and Joe
Charlie and Lenny
Fire Captain Marty Acardi
Captain Mike Crew
Lou Scarcella and Chuck Reichenthal
Lenny and Dennis Vourderis
Brooklyn Best Coney Island 2004
Lenny an Carole Alpert
Jack and Lenny
Ron Schweiger- Brooklyn Historian
Lenny and Adam Brown