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Kelly Tarlton Recognised with International Accolade

09 November 2012
For immediate release

Kelly Tarlton Recognised with International Accolade

Marine Conservationist Inducted into Scuba Diving Hall of Fame

Kelly Tarlton

Renowned Kiwi marine conservationist Kelly Tarlton received a post-humus induction into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame yesterday.

Kelly was recognised for his innovative approach to marine conservation, exemplified in the namesake marine aquarium he created, which has provided an educational platform for New Zealanders and international tourists for 27 years.

Kelly’s award citation also paid homage to his pioneering of curved acrylic tunnels that enabled visitors to view sea creatures and their habitats from beneath - a ground-breaking development that has been emulated internationally since its inception in 1984.

The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame was created in 2000 and Kelly’s induction puts him in illustrious company, including that of Jacques Cousteau, the famous French Naval Officer who invented and manufactured the aqua-lung, making it possible for man to explore the sea.

It was after seeing Jacques Cousteau’s film Silent World that Kelly was inspired to explore the ocean, copying parts of the diving equipment seen in the film and piecing them together to create his own scuba gear.

From here Kelly started a commercial diving company and spent considerable time exploring New Zealand’s most famous shipwrecks including sailing ship Boyd at Whangaroa Harbour and steamship Tasmania off Mahia Peninsula. This led Kelly to establish the Museum of Shipwrecks in the Bay of Islands in the 1970s and later Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World in Auckland.

Kelly’s widow, Rosemary Tarlton, is in the Cayman Islands this week to accept the award on his behalf.

“It is humbling to have Kelly’s achievements honoured on the international stage. Diving was his passion in life and this is such a fitting tribute. It means a huge amount to our family,” says Mrs Tarlton.

Grandson Tane Tarlton is preparing to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as the leader of the Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium Young Explorer programme, which encourages children to learn about and get involved with marine conservation.

“I can’t believe all the things my granddad achieved, I think it’s amazing,” says 11-year-old Tane. “I already go diving whenever I can and I really love exploring the ocean like he did. It’s definitely my favourite thing.”

Sadly, Kelly passed away just seven weeks after the opening of his underwater attraction, but close to 12 million visitors have since enjoyed his legacy.


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