Joe Liburdi started diving in 1952, when divers wore twin-hose regulators and scuba lessons consisted of the words, "Blow and go!" In 1966, while stationed with the Air Force in the Philippines, he founded the first scuba training school and AF Dive Club for service men at Mactan Air Force Base in the Philippines. That was also the year he took his first underwater photograph with a Calypso camera. Expressing his impressions of inner space has been his challenge and reward ever since. He has explored the waters of Japan, Micronesia, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Africa. He has dived the Caribbean, the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea. He has enjoyed the tepid waters of the Fijian archipelago and explored the cold, green depths of British Columbia. He has dived all the coasts of Mexico and its interior. His photographs document the moods, moments and fascination of five decades beneath the seas.
Joe's encounters have appeared in numerous publications, including the most popular American diving magazines, Skin Diver, Scuba Diving, Dive Training, and Sport Diver. He has been published in Undersea Journal, Alaskan Air Magazine, the Digital Photographer, to name a few. He has coauthored seven books: A Guide to Our Underwater World, The Underwater Photo Logbook, How to Use Sea & Sea, How to Use the Motor Marine II, The Complete Guide to Sea & Sea, The New Guide to Sea & Sea, and The Complete Guide to the Motor Marine III.
Joe has received the NAUI Man in the Sea award and PADI's prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award for his contributions to the sport of diving. He has been applauded for his 16mm film of Mt. St. Helens' ravaged Spirit Lake in a BBC documentary called "Legacy of a Volcano". In 1995 Joe was elected to Scuba Schools International's Platinum Pro 5000 society for having pulled 5000 dives. But if we're counting, it's closer to double. In 2004 Joe was selected as contributing still photographer for National Geographic Diver Almanac and National Geographic Passport to Adventure DVD-ROM.
In 1972 Joe opened his first of three dive shops in the Pacific Northwest. In 1985 Joe and his wife Cara came to California and launched Underwater Exposures, Inc. and Orca Publications, a publishing and marketing firm. In 1991 Joe and his sons founded Liburdi's Scuba Center in California, now one of the industry's foremost training and retail facilities and the largest dealer of underwater imaging equipment in Southern California. Though retired from the retail sector, he continues to teach underwater photography, focusing more now on digital and video rather than still imaging, conducts seminars and workshops, leads photo adventures, and everywhere expounds the joys of diving and taking pictures.
Joe is an industry pioneer. The white hair is testament to a career spanning 55 years. But his enthusiasm for diving and photography keep him young. He is now working on completing his next 1000 dives.
It is rumored the man has gills.