Meet the Season 2 Judges

Michael Steidley

Location: Winter Garden, FL
Country: United States
Years Diving: 51 years

My Bio

Michael Steidley was born in Washington D.C. and moved to Southern California at the age of six. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1981 with a Master of Science Degree in Physical Organic Chemistry. Steidley was a member of the University of Oregon Varsity Swim team for the four years while he completed his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He served as the University Head Lifeguard during that period as well. He did a year of post-graduate work in exercise physiology.

Steidley was first introduced to scuba diving in 1968 while he was participating in the Los Angeles County Junior Frogman program. He became certified in 1974 and has been an active diver ever since. Michael became a PADI Instructor in 1980 and has continued to actively teach diving since then. Steidley is a current active PADI Course Director (#12146) celebrating his 28th year as a diving instructor. Additionally, he is an active NAUI Instructor (#8046) and D.A.N. Instructor Examiner (#4260). In the mid 1980’s Michael served as an SSI Instructor Trainer (IT#95) and SSI Instructor Evaluator (IE# 95) while he worked at the Diving Locker in San Diego. He is also a Visual Cylinder Inspector Instructor Trainer (#12) for the Professional Scuba Inspectors Organization and a TDI Instructor Trainer for Semi-Closed Re-breathers, Decompression Procedures, and Extended Range. Michael has issued more than 6000 diver certifications ranging from new openwater divers to diving instructors during the past 30 years as a diving educator.

Steidley started his professional diving career at the University of Oregon in 1980 when he became a PADI Instructor and was designated as the University Scuba Program Coordinator and Diving Safety Officer. Steidley developed and conducted scuba diving instruction at the University of Oregon from 1980 to 1983 where he certified more than 250 University student openwater divers. These training dives were all conducted at Hoods Canal in the state of Washington. Additionally, more that 200 advanced level certifications were taught during this time period to University students where the open water training was conducted in the local lakes in Oregon as well as in Monterey, California.

Steidley served as a member of Kelco’s dive team in 1983 – 1984 where he surveyed the kelp forests off San Diego and helped to protect and manage this renewable resource. He later moved into the laboratory where he helped to perform research on the commercial applications for alginates that were derived from the harvested kelp. During these years, Michael was an active diving instructor teaching courses for local dive stores, the Naval Amphibious Base, and local law enforcement agencies. He was certifying as many as 400 divers and diving instructors per year even though he was working full time as a chemist for Kelco. It was obvious that his passion was for diving and sharing the wonders of the underwater world.

Steidley served as the Treasurer for the San Diego Diving Instructors Association in the early 1980’s. Steidley and the San Diego Diving Instructors Association played an active role in sinking the first two wrecks as an Artificial Reef program in what has become known as San Diego’s Wreck Alley. The two ships that were sunk as artificial reefs were the El Rey and the Rube E. These ships are still being enjoyed by divers and serve as early examples of ships being used for artificial reefs on the west coast of the United States.

Steidley began his full time career in the diving industry in 1987 when he went to work for the National Association of Underwater Instructors as a regional manager covering twelve western states. During that time, he pioneered courses on diving computers and dive computer safety. He left NAUI to go to work for Sea Quest in 1991. Steidley has been a regional sales manager for Aqua Lung America and Sea Quest for the past nineteen years. Steidley has also served as a member of the Diving Safety Board at Sea World of California since 1998 - 2009.

Michael has appeared in several diving instructional videos. He was in both the NAUI Rescue Diver and the NAUI Diving Skills videos. He helped to develop the rescue segments in these first NAUI videos. He also developed and served as the commentator for the first Sea Quest instructional video for selecting a Buoyancy Compensator based upon features and benefits as well as for meeting a divers specific diving requirements.

Michael co-authored the first book ever written on dive computers entitled Diving with Dive Computers. He has co-authored four other diving texts. In addition, Michael has published more than 100 articles about diving and diving equipment in such magazines as Skin Diver Magazine, The Undersea Journal, NAUI News, and Discover Diving Magazine. He is also an accomplished underwater photographer with hundreds of published photos and six cover shots on magazines.

Michael became the fourth DAN Instructor Examiner in the United States in March 2006. Steidley has a burning passion to increase diving safety at any opportunity that he can. He has certified more than 1100 DAN providers, DAN Instructors, and DAN Instructor Trainers in the past five years. In 2007, Steidley was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Training from DAN. He was awarded this recognition for issuing more than 450 DAN certifications at all levels in the year 2006. This was the highest number of certifications ever issued by a DAN instructor in a single year.

Steidley has actively promoted diving safety to law enforcement agencies for more than 25 years. In the early 1980’s, Steidley started working with law enforcement dive teams. He started with the San Diego Police Department’s SWAT Special Response Team’s underwater diving training. For several years he continued an on going training program with respect to diving techniques and diving safety. He continues to work with dive teams in Law Enforcement. During the years 2007 through 2009, he conducted enriched air and rebreather training for the Los Angeles Port Police. Steidley is continued the LA Port Police Dive Team training with dive rescue and divemaster training leading to certifications in these areas. Additionally, the Los Angeles Port Police have adopted all of the DAN Diving Emergency courses as part of their dive team training. Steidley also conducted their OSHA Hazmat training with respect to fill station operations, compressed air handling, and scuba cylinder inspection and safety training.

Recently, Steidley has promoted the new DAN course entitled Diving First Aid for Dive Professionals and encouraged more DAN courses to be taught at Aquariums and Sea World in an effort to increase the awareness and safety of professional and volunteer aquarium divers. Sea World California now requires DAN Oxygen First Aid for Diving Accidents training for all of their divers.

Michael currently lives in Winter Garden, Florida with his wife Rachael. Michael is the Corporate Safety Manager for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. He is responsible for diving operations, aquatic areas, laser safety, and zoological safety.

Michael has four children. Michael’s son Brandon is a certified diver and is featured in the 2008 Aqua Lung Lifestyle brochure diving with turtles. Their youngest daughter Madison just celebrated her sixth birthday and is already becoming an avid swimmer. Their youngest son, Reef, was born in August 2008 and loves being on a dive boat and goggling with his dad. In their spare time, Michael and Rachael study martial arts. Michael tested and was promoted to the rank of Fourth Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor in the art of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan in January of 2005.

Michael still has a passion for diving and teaching diving. He is an avid underwater photographer and a staunch supporter of education in diver safety. He still loves the bubbles.

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