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 got certified in summer of 2008. I started taking pictures underwater to help me remember what I saw on my dives so I can write them down in my dive log. Since then, I've upgraded my camera from a small point and shoot camera to a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lens. Some people want to see the big things like sharks and sea turtles. I delight in looking for small creatures underwater, especially nudibranchs. There are so much colors under the sea!
-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.
Mike BrockResident Pro Photographer / Divemaster
I’ve been diving for the majority of my life. It’s a skill that I was provided the opportunity to learn and a passion that I inherited from my father…well, that and his name…Mike Brock.
I grew up listening to dive stories from around the world. My childhood was spent surrounded by incoming and outgoing boxes of fins, masks, snorkels, regulators, and all things diving. My dad worked for Scubapro where his first job with them was setting up a sales territory in the Midwest. When he was later made National Sales Manager, he and my family packed up and moved to Southern California, where some years later at the age of 13, I became a certified NASDS diver. That was 1981, and ever since my world has consisted of above water and below water.
Honestly…I prefer below water. Yep, I’ve got it that bad! For the first 20 years as a certified diver, for the most part, I largely and happily dove in North America and predominately the California Channel Islands. While stationed in San Diego as a member of the United States Navy, I earned various dive certifications including Divemaster. It was also during this time and through my relationship with the legendary Diving Locker crew that I developed an interest in photographing the beauties, oddities, and mysterious wonders I discovered below the surface.
In the following years as my photography interest developed into a passion, I found inspiration in various opportunities to explore the underwater world with much-admired and respected dive luminaries. A standout experience was working as a divemaster on Southern California blue shark and mako shark cage diving trips with the late Jon Hardy. Other highlights include working in small ways with underwater filmmakers.
I started my own portfolio with my first published photo in 1989 of a Red Irish Lord and now years later…having been introduced to diving by my late father, indelibly inspired by dive industry legends, and continually fueled by shared dive experiences with new and longtime friends…I find myself traveling around the world to experience and photograph the truly singular, uniquely diverse, and often remotely hidden underwater neighborhoods that are home to some of the most weirdly and aesthetically beautiful, majestically miniscule and undisputedly gargantuan creatures imaginable.
In this pursuit, that some (maybe a few family members and friends!), think is extreme, I have dove and photographed Great Hammerhead Sharks, Caribbean Reef Sharks, and dolphins in the Bahamas; traveled to the Revillagigedo Islands in search of giant oceanic mantas; found Humpback Whales in Mo’orea French Polynesia, searched out myriad creatures in muck diving sites such as Lembeh, Indonesia and Anilao, Philippines; happily descended into eerily supernatural blackwater environments in search of otherworldly pelagic magic; and had the adrenaline inducing experience of sharing my dive cage with a 14-foot Great White Shark who pushed its way into one end of the cage and graciously exited on the other while going about its business in the waters off of Guadalupe Island, Mexico. In spite of the rolled eyes and raised eyebrows of some people who follow my dive travels, I keep planning for and working to fund my next dive trip!
It’s my running joke that my passion has led me to work solely to subject myself and to entrust my dive equipment and cameras to the ‘hazards’ of getting there. Working only, but gladly, so that I can make numerous runs with too much gear through too many airports, to travel on multiple planes through multiple time zones is just the beginning. Once there, it is then reliving for the umpteenth time the nothing-you-can-do-to-change-it experience of being at the mercy of unpredictable weather and the capricious schedule of creatures that oddly and who sometimes rudely (considering how much I admire, love, and invest in visiting them) don’t sync their calendars with my much saved for and well planned out itinerary. All this is done to experience that one singular moment and to capture that one perfect photo that I obsess over and long to add to my portfolio. While others (arguably, smartly) travel to their vacation preference and then dive, I choose my destination based on the photograph I am seeking. It might be an upside down way of doing things that only my fellow divers can perhaps appreciate, but it’s a way that has taken me to some pretty amazing underwater places to photograph some pretty amazing creatures!
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!!
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 HwangDivemaster / Facilities Assistant
Started diving in 2012 at 11 years old. On the boat, you can probably see me over the rail, being horribly seasick. Despite that, I still love going out to the ocean and in the water. There's nothing like jumping into the sea and feeling that all my exhaustion wash away.
The ocean is limitless, and I feel lucky that we can experience a part of it ourselves in person. Ask me about my extensive collection of tiny seashells or the invertebrates I've seen in California waters!
Jackie QuachDivemaster / Facilities Assistant
I started my diving career here at Ocean Safari at the age of 14, hoping to expand my perspective to encompass the underwater world, and what I've discovered for myself has well beyond exceded my expectations. Like most others who start scuba diving, I was drawn by the unknown and the desire to seek out beauty. I've always loved watching the documentaries on TV and I wanted to see, firsthand, what lies under the surface. It started with swimming and then traveling and snorkeling, but it wasn't enough. I wanted to see more, and what better way to explore the underwater world than scuba diving.
I love scuba diving. I love the community. I love Gabe. I love the Scubapro Hydros Pro, sold at your local dive shop (Ocean Safari Scuba) for a special price. I love San Miguel Island. I love the dive site El Diablo. I love hanging out at the shop. I love Ocean Safari Scuba. I love camping (led by your local outdoors shop, Ocean Safari Scuba) I love the shop dogs, Gobi, Eko, and Gambo. I love the shop dawgs, Thomas and Andy. I love pool sessions. I love the Peace dive boat. I love peace in general. I love convincing myself to buy more scuba gear. I love my scuba friends. I love identifying fish (workshops available at your local dive shop, Ocean Safari Scuba) I love the Ocean Safari New Years party. I love the Channel Islands. I love lobsters. I love the local trips. I love hiking (guided eco trips led by Haruka Ito available at your local dive shop, Ocean Safari Scuba). I love the overseas trips (for more information, visit your local dive shop, Ocean Safari Scuba) and most importantly, I love you.
Dan StephensDive Master
Hi, I am Dan Stephens and I started diving with Ocean Safari in 2014, I had already had my Open Water certification from another agency, but was hoping to continue my Advanced certifcation with NAUI. After meeting and talking with Gabe I was hooked. I knew right away this was the place for me. Since then I have taken many classes at Ocean Safari, but more important than anything else, I have made so many friends here. Gabe has challenged me in so many ways and I always have come away a better person/diver than I was before. My true love is writing about my adventures and sharing what I have learned. I look forward to one day having a chance to dive with you. Cheers, Dan
Luis TorresInstructor / Swim Coach
To be is to do.....
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.
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..
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.