Paul Rose on the DIVER Stage at DIVE 2016Take the ever-popular star of stage and screen, Paul Rose. Not an easy man to pin down, because for much of his life he is trotting the globe, diving cherry-picked locations as Expedition Leader of NatGeo’s Pristine Seas programme.

But he always aims to make it to the Dive Shows because he loves talking to divers, and you’ll find him on the DIVER Stage discussing his recent expeditions to places like rarely dived Tristan da Cunha and Ascension.

Paul will also stay on after his talk Saturday afternoon to present the 20th DIVER Awards, the first time the industry’s most prestigious accolades have been given out at the NEC Dive Show. Find out who won through!

Speakers will also appear on the Centre Stage in the PhotoZone area, on the TekDeck and in the Ocean Theatre and make impromptu appearances around the hall. But star Centre Stage billing must go to Britain’s two most illustrious underwater photographers, Alex Mustard and Martin Edge.

Appearing together on Saturday, their unmissable presentation is called Unseen Images. You’ll be seeing photos for the first time, with the focus on experimental photography – or, as Alex puts it “how we play with ideas, make steps forward and backward on the way to creating exciting new work”.

DIVE 2017 Speakers

Top line, left to right: Alex Mustard and Martin Edge, Paul Colley, Jack Perks, Sal Cartwright; Middle line: Martin Farr, Andrea Zaferes, Keith Hiscock, Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown; Bottom line: Richard Smith, Shane Wasik, Mark Powell, Marcus Greatwood, Rosemary Lunn

Another British lens-master is Paul Colley, whose talk will be Underwater Photography Competitions: Help or Hindrance? His conclusions may surprise you, but whether you love or hate photo contests, he’ll have plenty of advice on how to advance your own photographic abilities.

Paul has been doing a lot of work in fresh water recently, but a diver who made his name in rivers and lakes is Jack Perks, who has made many TV appearances as a freshwater specialist and wrote Freshwater Fishes of Britain. Guess what his topic is – with the emphasis on unsalted photography.

Still on inland diving, on the 50th anniversary of the loss of the Bluebird speedboat in a 328mph crash Sal Cartwright recalls the dives that took place to recover the craft – which is now finally working again – from Coniston Water in the Lake District.

First published in the 1980s, by which time the intrepid Welsh cave-diver had already made a name for himself, Martyn Farr’s book The Darkness Beckons became a cave-diving bible, but it has only now been rewritten for the 21st century. Martyn will discuss the exciting developments in cave-diving that made this update necessary.

Revisiting from the USA after making a deep impression at DIVE 2016, underwater forensic investigator and rescue/recovery instructor Andrea Zaferes can be expected to fascinate again with accounts of her varied experiences. Look up her CV – it’s impressive reading!

As usual an eminent assembly of divers who between them know all there is to know about marine life will be gathered at the NEC. They don’t come more eminent than Dr Keith Hiscock, and in Fabulous and Fascinating: Celebrating Britain's Hidden World he looks at how scuba has uncovered so many of the secrets of our shallow seas in the past 50 years.

Marine biologists and photo-journalists Nick & Caroline Robertson-Brown discuss wide-angle photography and how it can tell a story to the viewer. In The Bigger Picture they share photos of marine-life encounters and discuss the interactions and getting the shots.

Another marine biologist who applies his knowledge to his photography is seahorse specialist Richard Smith. His topic is How to Capture Reef-Life Au Naturel – nothing to do with nudis, it’s about taking pictures with minimum disruption to the wildlife subjects.

Shane Wasik too has a biology background – in recent years he has been dedicated to enabling divers to interact with basking sharks in Scotland – and that’s his theme.

Technical instructor and agent provocateur Mark Powell will be busy organising the TekDeck technical-diving speaker line-up, but takes time out to address the pressing question: Diving Instructors: Can We Do Better? It won’t be the first time Mark has confronted an audience with a controversial question and gone on to provide a full and compelling answer.

Marcus Greatwood is another man without whom a Dive Show can hardly be described as complete, and his NoTanx freediving team has been carrying out more extreme-location breath-hold expeditions, mainly in Britain – he’ll take us through them.

From the above, you’ll see that DIVE 2017 presents many arguments for UK diving, but should doubts linger, drop in on Rosemary Lunn’s What’s Wrong with British Diving? “Black, silty, cold and boring” are charges she says she often hears levelled, but by divers who have never explored our home waters. Rosemary plans to take us on an underwater tour from 3m to 70m.