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Bob Hollis, a diving legend and pioneer, has passed away

On Wednesday, January 4, Bob Hollis – legend and pioneer of sport diving and founder of the Oceanic brand – passed away at the age of 85. Bob Hollis was born on April 25, 1937 in Orland, California. From an early age he was in love with the ocean, and it all started in 1955.
Published: January 8, 2023 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 01:41
Bob Hollis, a diving legend and pioneer, has passed away

On Wednesday, January 4, Bob Hollis – legend and pioneer of sport diving and founder of the Oceanic brand – passed away at the age of 85.

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Bob Hollis was born on April 25, 1937 in Orland, California. From an early age he was in love with the ocean, and it all started in 1955. That’s when 18-year-old Bob read an article about underwater exploration in the now iconic Popular Mechanics magazine. It was the spark that influenced his entire later life.

Origins

When Bob Hollis returned to the surface from his first dive, he was no longer the same person. The water and the underwater world full of mysteries waiting to be discovered became his obsession. It wasn’t long before he became one of the first underwater photographers on the U.S. west coast and in 1966 founded the Underwater Photographic Society of Northern California. At the same time, he joined the advisory board of the California State Parks Department. He helped survey the shoreline and identify areas to be protected.

Since the diving and underwater photography equipment of the time did not meet expectations, Bob soon began to create his own. This is certainly a common trait of many diving pioneers who, in order to develop their underwater passion, had to resort to their imagination, creativity and technical ability to create new equipment that would allow them to dive deeper, longer and safer.

As a result, over the course of a decade, Bob Hollis has traveled the path from opening his first dive store (1966) to becoming a leader in dive equipment manufacturing (1976). Today, his legacy is still going strong. After all, who doesn’t associate the Oceanic company he founded and its subordinate brands? Despite the passage of many years, they still hold an important place in the diving equipment market.

Bob Hollis and Andrea Doria

He wrote a separate chapter during the exploration of the wreck of the Italian passenger ship Andrea Doria. In 1978, he helped create a carbonation system that was attached to the wreck for seven days. This allowed divers to explore the wreck at a depth of 70 meters without going to the surface. Hollis himself also took part in the exploration of the Andrea Doria and made more dives on the wreck than anyone else. He cemented this history as an underwater photographer during the making of the film Andrea Doria: The Final Chapter.

For these and many other diving achievements, he received a number of prestigious awards and honors. However, he himself has always regarded his family as his greatest success. He lived to see four children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Bob Hollis passed away at his home in Salt Lake City as a fulfilled man and surrounded by those closest to him. But his legacy and the passion he passed on to the next generation will continue to live on and push people to explore the deep.


Fascinators of history will undoubtedly enjoy Karina Kowalska’s article, The Unraveling of Leonardo. Its second part was published in the 20th issue of our DIVERS24 quarterly! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while you can purchase the printed version in our online store.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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