Gabriel LuFounder / Course Director
“I believe that everybody has a responsibility to the world. I found that mine was to share with others a passion for another world. The only way to do this was to dedicate my entire life.”
Born and raised for the first sixteen years of his life in the rural countryside of Taitung, Taiwan, Gabriel Lu began scuba diving early at the age of fourteen. What started out as catching fish for pocket change quickly evolved into an undying curiosity for the underwater world.
From there it was underwater special ops in the military, commercial diving for Taiwan Petroleum Company, education in New Zealand focusing on mixed-gas saturation diving, underwater welding and cutting, and a bachelor degree in the United States for deep-sea diving technology and ocean engineering.
As a certified Scuba instructor since 1987, Gabriel didn’t hesitate to begin his pursuit of recreational diving education. In the process of receiving the NAUI course director title, he established Ocean Safari Scuba and began adding to his expertise underwater and outdoor photography, free diving, underwater precision equipment manufacturing, underwater hunting, and what accumulated to over thirty years of exotic world-traveling and outdoors experience.
However, it isn’t just your industry savviness which defines your character. In the community Ocean Safari Outdoors and Gabriel Lu caters to, it is a burning passion that moves things forward. It’s the willingness to dedicate yourself. This spirit produces a relationship which in the end is fit for nothing else but a good adventure.
Thomas TemplarGeneral Manager / Instructor Trainer
Born at the tender age of zero, he began his first migration towards the great Pacific Ocean. Forged by the rough shell sand and pounding temperate waves, he formed a deep connection with the sea and all of her creatures. Now he uses his powers to teach others how to form a deep and lasting relationship with our mother, Ocean.
In his terrestrial life, Thomas is most commonly spotted at the Ocean Safari headquarters answering calls, repairing equipment, orchestrating excursions, and signing autographs.
After hours he must travel to the nearest body of water to avoid desiccation, often spending his weekday evenings teaching scuba, free diving, and rescue diving at the Norman S. Johnson Aquatic Center in Arcadia.
When he is not “working” photography, music, surfing, and hiking are his go to activities.
Though his powers are great and many, there are still countless migrations ahead.
Join Ocean Safari and view this majestic creature on your next underwater adventure.
Andy RiosAssistant Manager / Instructor
Born and raised in Southern California, I always had that drive for adventure. Whether it is going on hikes off trail or exploring underwater, the outdoors never ceases to amaze me. As an instructor at Ocean Safari, I take great pride in what I do and always love to see smiling faces after an awesome dive. You'll probably find me behind a camera underwater.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -Einstein
Soo SeoOffice Accountant / Graphic Designer
I started diving in 2003. I’m proud that I conquered a near-drowning experience that I had when I was young. Even after that experience, I still had the desire to explore and find out what’s underneath the water’s surface. The process of learning scuba diving and going out diving was something that could relieve loads of stress from me. From then on I worked really hard to improve on my skills and increase my comfort in the water. I love being underwater and breathing; I feel like a fish! I travel around the world and have logged over 700 dives. I love trying to take pictures of macro marine life in several different angles. My on-land profession is graphic designing, processing loads of Ocean Safari's underwater images, maintaing the website, and feeding Ocean Safari's kids/staff/dogs.
Haruka ItoOffice Assistant / Instructor / Staff Naturalist
Nature is indescribably amazing. No matter how hard humans try to come out on top, nature's rules stay consistent within all living organisms. Even the spiraling pattern of our DNA is based on the same proportions that spiral sea shells and arrange the petals on a rose. No matter how hard we try to separate ourselves and try to "tame the wild", nature always wins. My passion is to show everyone this beauty and renew the wildness that's within all of us.
I'll guide you underwater and open your eyes to the creatures often overlooked. I'll give you health and beauty tips using algae, and make you delicious seaweed cocktails. I'll lead you into the mountains to forage for wild foods and make seasonal drinks! Come out and explore with me!
"From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free" - Jaques Cousteau
Megumi ItohSocial Media Coordinator / Instructor / Illustrator
I started taking pictures as a way to remember what I saw during the dives. Since then, my obsession with the nudibranchs and other small marine animals led me to specializing in underwater macro photography.
Ggambo LuSecurity guard / Public Relations
Ggambo was a lost, wandering street kid in Koreatown, Los Angeles who was born in early 2006. When he was four months old, he went on his first ocean excursion in the extremely rough Northern Californian waters. His job description at Ocean Safari is Public Relationship and Security Guard manager. He handles his job very well, but we don’t exactly understand why he doesn’t get along with mailmen. Other than that, he takes his job very seriously and is always eager to go to work. Ggambo has a lot of boating experience, but doesn’t go on local or overseas group trips due to species discrimination. He does, however, join the Ocean Safari Staff in as much of their personal expeditions as possible. Ggambo is a father of six kids with one lovely wife named Lulu. He rides a bike to work every working day and greets customers with love.
-Volunteer Diver for Santa Monica Baykeepers / Los Angeles Waterkeepers since 2009
-AAUS trained since 2011
-Emergency Response Diver trained since 2012
-What draws me to the ocean besides its ever changing beauty? The family atmosphere and teamwork displayed by the staff from Ocean Safari whose goal I believe is to share and open up a new experience of the underwater world to our divers, also the work accomplished while volunteering my time with the Los Angeles Waterkeepers, we call it diving with a purpose.
Norbert LeeInstructor/ Marine Biologist
Most people dive to enjoy the macro-scale beauty of the underwater world such as kelp forests and coral reefs. I dive to study the the ecology of marine environments as well as the microscopic world of the ocean that most people cannot see, the world of phytoplanktons and bacteria that are both vital and harmful for the ocean.
As a Dive Instructor, I feel a sense of accomplishment when students and veteran divers alike see the beauty of the ocean and soak in the awe of the sight. Leading or assisting with dives also gives me a chance to slow down and enjoy all the little organisms I take for granted with divers that haven't seen them before. Watching divers grow into the sport to me means that there is one more voice for our delicate oceans.
I hope more divers get into the sport to open their eyes and appreciate the everchanging underwater world. With Ocean Safari I know they will do just that.
Adam KeenanInstructor / Service Technician
I fell in love with the ocean and discovering the secrets that lie beneath the surface when I was 11 years old during a week long stay on Catalina Island at the Catalina Island Marine Institue. From there, I was hooked and have always known my future lies somewhere in the ocean. I later received my B.S. in Marine Biology from Cal State University, Long Beach. My dive career began in 2009 with Ocean Safari and I have been diving and instructing with OSDT ever since. In my opinion, nothing beats the serenity of the kelp forest, but I hope to travel our oceans and experience the unique beauty that each desitnation has to offer. See you all under water!!
Ruben EscamillaDive Master
Ever since I was a young man, I wanted to explore our oceans and what's in them. I have fallen in love with scuba diving and with the friendships I have made while diving. I began diving in the summer of 2013 with the help of Ocean Safari Scuba. In my short time diving, I have been able to travel and scuba dive in beautiful and exotic places, for example, Hawaii, Bahamas, Mexico and other destinations. I have been inside a shark cage staring at an 18 foot Great White shark named Bruce at Guadalupe Island, Mexico. In 2017, I saw hundreds of Hammerhead sharks swim above my head at the Galapagos Islands. I'm typically a shy person, however, diving has helped me come out of my comfort zone to meet new people and share diving adventures. In the future, I would like to earn my Instructor Certification and help others discover the beautiful world in our oceans.
Diane HwangFacilities Assistant / Assistant Instructor
"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came."
-John F. Kennedy
Luis TorresInstructor / Swim Coach
To be is to do.....
Stu RoyInstructor Emeritus
I am an instructor for PADI being certified as an Staff Instructor in the Instructor Training Course. I am also certified as an Instructor for NAUI as well as with DAN instructing Emergency Medicine for Scuba Divers, Advanced Oxygen Delivery and Aquatic Animals Emergency Medical Care. I am also a CPR with AED instructor.
I started diving in 1972 and became an instructor in 1988. I have logged over 8000 dives and have instructed over 1000 students. I still get excited when first timers exclaim upon surfacing after their first dive "that was incrediblle". I have dove throughout the world and taught in the Cayman Islands for seven years before discovering Gabe and Ocean Safari some years ago.
In the "other world", I am a Physical Therapist, licensed in California and have been licensed since 1963. Presently I specialize with knee and hip replacements seeing the patients in their homes after discharge from the hospital following surgery.
My passion lies with diving where I feel in touch with the sea and actually feel more comfortable under water than in our natural environment..
Thai QuachInstructor Trainer Emeritus
Thai is a NAUI Instructor Trainer and has been a certified diver since 1996. He loves to share his diving passion and experiences with every student and diver. He believes it is important to train every single student to be self-reliance and a safe diver so they can enjoy their diving experience.
Thai’s favorite dives are wall dives, drift dives and coral gardens and some of his favorite places to dive are Palau, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Locally, he loves to dive at Catalina Island, Santa Barbara Island and Anacapa Island.