Staff Report

The Florida Skin Divers Association, a non-profit organization of Florida dive clubs founded in 1952, will celebrate its 50th year hosting the “Southern Open Derby”, Florida’s State Championships for underwater photography and spear fishing. Sunset Grill at Little Harbor has been chosen as the site for the 2013 event state weigh-in and awards. The competition has been expanded recently to include a popular underwater video category and a State Lionfish Derby, an effort by Florida divers to help eradicate the invasive lionfish problem that is threatening many native fish and invertebrate species.

The photography and video portions run through Friday, June 7, followed by the spear fishing competition and Lionfish Derby held Friday-Sunday, June 14-16. Statewide captain’s meetings, held Friday June 14, allow divers to hunt their home waters dawn to dusk Saturday June 15, and then competitors from around the state will come to Sunset Grill at Little Harbor on Sunday, June 16 for weigh-in and awards, with weigh-in closing at noon.

FSDA President Bill Van Deman said, “This is a very exciting event for the Florida Skin Divers Association. Not only is this a chance to raise money for several deserving dive charities and affect the health of the environment through our lionfish hunt, but we are extremely excited to recognize several legends of the diving community- some men and women who have been around since the beginning of our sport. I also think having our fiftieth anniversary event at Little Harbor will really showcase the great opportunities to participate in a boating and diving lifestyle right here in South Shore.”

FSDA will be honoring several diving legends and pioneers of the sport; men and women who witnessed and nurtured the growth of all forms of diving in Florida. Several past state and national diving champions, along with officers and community contributors will be in attendance, including well-known Sport, SCUBA and skin divers.

The tradition of community support is continued by the 2013 event with beneficiaries including an artificial reef-building project off local counties, the regional Ocean Pals “Save our Seas” Poster contest held in grade and middle schools around the state, as well as Diver’s Rights and a local Marine Conservation endowment named after longtime FSDA contributors Ken and Sonia Smith.

To get more details or register for the event, please go to or contact event chairman Bill Van Deman at wvan for participation questions or for questions regarding lionfish collection.


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.