Have you ever had a dream to go into a dive store where every conceivable product related to scuba diving exists? The good news is that the place is real; it is called DEMA.
Every year the Dive Equipment Manufacturers Association (DEMA) gathers together dive equipment manufacturers, dive travel agencies, environmental groups, certifying agencies, jewelers, and many other dive-related businesses into one place to showcase their products.
Story and photographs by Bonnie McKenna
DEMA 2019 took place in Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center. According to DEMA, there were 50 categories of exhibitors, from accessories to wreck diving, and thousands of attendees.
DEMA is not a consumer show. To attend the show, you must belong to one or more of the several categories that are accepted, all requiring credentials; Dive Master or above, International Distributor, Manufacturer Representative, Non-exhibiting Manufacturer, Retail Buyer, Industry Professional, Retail Dive Center Staff, or Travel Agent/Buyer.
All four days of the show are packed with exhibitor presentations, speakers on various destinations (often with trip giveaways), film shows and competitions, and International Cultural Shows. Guaranteed, you will walk many miles by the time you have walked the entire showroom floor several times.
One of my many favorite exhibits, this year, was Time Concepts. As you might imagine, this was an exhibit dedicated to dive watches. Yes, but not just any dive watch, Time Concept dive watches are beautifully crafted timepieces that you can wear with a smart business suit or wear with a wetsuit.
The Time Concepts series of watches includes: the Szanto ICON Signature Watch Series developed with famous individuals; the Szanto Vintage Dive 5200, a classic watch with a water-resistant leather strap; the Hawaiian Life Guard Association’s official watch designed with the spirit of Aloha; and the BiaTM named for the Greek Goddess of raw energy and power. The BiaTM is available in the Bernice Sports Series and the Rosie Sports Series, paying homage to iconic women. All the watches come with a Stainless-Steel case, screw-down crown, unidirectional rotating dive bezel, Japan quartz three-hand and date movement, flat hardened K1 mineral crystal, superior Swiss Lume on the hands and indices and water-resistant to 200 meters. For additional information: www.timeconcepts.com.
If you want to get lost in time and travel around the world, all you have to do is wander through the aisles of dive travel exhibits. There were 347 booths exhibiting everything from travel destinations to travel planning. The Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Africa, Philippines, Micronesia, Hawaii, California, Croatia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, U.S.A, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Australia, Japan, Egypt, even Russia was exhibiting the wonders of their diving destinations.
I always love to go to the Fiji exhibits. In the afternoon, they invite everyone to enjoy a welcome bowl of kava. While enjoying a “bilo” of kava, you can study the travel specials for individuals and groups. You can get good deals like the one for the Sau Bay Fiji Retreat. This resort is just minutes from the famed Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Straights. They were looking for a group of 10. The show special, cost per person is under $2000 USD for seven nights and five days diving. Perfect for dive clubs. www.scubafiji.com.
The dive magazine Destinations made its US debut at DEMA. A popular magazine in the UK, its beautiful color photographs, and in-depth stories will make those of us who love to dream of diving in faraway places start to make plans to travel. Check it out at www.scubadiverdestinations.com.
Speaking of travel to faraway places, Aggressor has added something new to their line of luxury liveaboards. Under the heading of Choose Your Adventure, Aggressor has added two very diverse cultural vacations.
The Aggressor Safari Lodge in Northern Sri Lanka, is located on the Kala Oya River, close to the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya Rock Palace National Heritage Site and Minneriya National Park. The lodge offers five-star tented accommodations, wildlife experts, and personalized service.
The Aggressor Nile River in Egypt, is a five-night cruise that travels from Luxor to Aswan on the beautiful Nile Queen, a Dahabiya sailing vessel that hosts only 16 guests. Each day guests are treated expert lecturers on the antiquities and beauties of ancient Egypt. www.aggressor.com.
A product all divers are interested in when it comes to keeping warm and comfortable in the water is wetsuits. Henderson Divewear introduced their new GreenpreenTM wetsuit. GrenpreneTM is USDA, a certified biobased product. The insulation is formulated from deproteinized natural rubber with other additives of sugarcane, plant oils, and oyster shells. The exterior fabric Aqua-SilkTM and the interior fabric Bio-SpanTM is made from recycled water bottles. I was amazed at how lightweight the wetsuit was and the interior material was very soft. In keeping with being eco-minded, Henderson’s new GreenpreneTM wetsuits are shipped in materials made from recycled cardboard, including the hangtags. Visit www.hendersonusa.com.
Mermaid Protector, a new exhibitor, unveiled a new neoprene-free wetsuit made of a 3-layer high-tech fabric. The outer layer is a polyester material, the middle layer is a windproof, breathable membrane, and the inner layer is a microfiber fleece. The wetsuits come in three different models. Fish Skin good for water temperatures more than 75F, Heat Skin good for water temperatures 70F or more, and Heat Skin & Fish Skin is good for temperatures above 59F. For a look at Mermaid Protector’s designs go to www.mermaid-protector.com.
A specialty product that debuted at DEMA, was a Virtual Reality (VR) program developed by Sub Sea Systems and Ballast Technologies, a company that makes semi-submersible and submersible systems. They have developed a waterproof VR headset. They sell three different VR snorkeling systems that allow participants to float or sit in a shallow pool exploring the ocean or outer space while experiencing audio, sensory and virtual content. The product caught my eye because it has far-reaching uses for people who cannot dive and yet wish they too could enjoy the wonders of the underwater world. To learn more about their VR programs go to www.vr-snorkel.com.
There are so many exhibits at DEMA it is difficult to stop and talk to every exhibitor. As I already mentioned, everything you can imagine regarding Scuba diving is at the DEMA show. If you are interested in artificial reefs, coral restoration, shark finning, lionfish control, wetsuits, drysuits, snorkels, fins, diving in every corner of the world, even purchasing a vibrating chair then make a plan to come to DEMA next year.
DEMA 2020 will be held November 4-7 in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana. See you there. www.dema.org.