With extensive experience within the dive industry, your professional staff and instructional team at Pura Vida Divers values your comfort, safety, enjoyment, and achievement.

Dean Shuler

Owner Operator, USCG Captain, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, DAN Instructor

Born and raised in Griffin, Georgia, Dean studied marine zoology while pursuing a career in diving. After 6 years of extensive experience with in the dive industry including managing charter operations at a highly-rated dive operation and teaching at a PADI Career Development Center, he developed and opened Pura Vida Divers. In addition to his role as President, he is an accomplished United States Coast Guard-licensed 100 Ton Captain, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Emergency First Response Instructor, DAN O2 Provider Instructor, and TDI Instructor. Dean also serves as a Board Member of the Palm Beach County Diving Association and was recently appointed by the Governor to Florida’s Boating Advisory Council.  On his “off” days he enjoys diving the springs, caverns and cave systems in North Florida and Mexico.  He is full cave certified with several agencies, Rebreather certified on multiple units, and enjoys Technical Diving every chance he gets.  His favorite dive sites include Atlantis and Paul’s Reef.

Shana Phelan

Owner Operator, Environmental Conservation Adviser, PADI Staff Instructor, DAN Instructor, EFR Instructor
Shana Phelan and Leatherback sea turtleOriginally from Columbus, Indiana, Shana graduated from the College of Charleston in South Carolina with Marine Biology and Environmental Science Degrees. After initially moving to Florida to pursue a career in diving she returned to the Carolinas where she completed her Masters Degree in Coastal Environmental Management at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She has worked with the Loggerhead Marine Life Center as a Marine Biologist and Researcher studying endangered and threatened sea turtles including the elusive Leatherback. In 2002, she was interviewed by The Discovery Channel in regards to her research, and in 2005 she worked with WIDECAST to create a Sea Turtle Trauma Response Field Guide which is now used throughout the Caribbean. She returned to Pura Vida in 2005 as a Co-owner and serves as the Administrator of the Palm Beach County Diving Association.  In 2013 she was selected to serve as a Team Member for the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI).  And in 2015 she was appointed to Palm Beach County’s Artificial Reef and Environmental Enhancement Committee (AREEC).  In addition, Shana is a PADI Staff Instructor, DAN Instructor, EFR Instructor, and TDI Instructor. Her favorite dive sites include Juno Ledge and Fourth Windows.

Barbara DeClerque

PADI Gold Course Director (Instructor Trainer), DAN Instructor Trainer, Captain, EFR Instructor Trainer
Barbara DeClerque Platinum Course DirectorOriginally a mathematics professor at Fordham University in New York City, Barbara began her diving career as an instructor in Manhattan but decided early on to move south to warmer climes and endless diving opportunities. She traveled and taught classes extensively throughout the American and British Virgin Islands and eventually made South Florida her home and “base of operations”. Barbara enjoys teaching new and old divers alike and relishes the opportunity to transform divers into instructors for PADI, DAN, and EFR. Although diving is now her passion and full-time “job”, Barbara has a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy from Fordham University and a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University. Her favorite dive sites are the Mizpah Corridor and Paul’s Reef.

Andrea Whitaker

Store Manager, PADI Instructor, Reservations Specialist, Reef Check SpecialistREEF Fish Counts Co-ordinator, Underwater Photographer, Photo Guide

1902051_10153251926526760_2752324083594040340_nAlthough originally from Iowa, Andrea graduated from UNC Charlotte with a degree in Biology concentrating in Ecology and Environmental Biology. While in college Andrea co-managed a dive center but once graduated, she spent several years working in Washington State as a wetland biologist. Tired of the dreary, cold water and winters, Andrea moved to South Florida in 2012 to work towards a Masters in Marine Biology. Andrea joined the PVD team in late 2012 as the store manager and reservation specialist. She’s most likely the friendly voice you hear on the phone when you call to book your diving adventure. On her days off, Andrea volunteers at FIU in Northern Miami on a research project involving Bull Sharks.  Or conducting beach indexing surveys on our local nesting sea turtles.  Andrea’s favorite dive sites are The Corridor and Juno Ledge.

 Zach Nolan

PADI IDC Staff Instructor, USCG Captain, Underwater PhotographerIMG_5779

Captain Zach Nolan is a native Floridian who grew up surfing, snorkeling and boating in the local waters that surround the Palm Beaches. A certified diver beginning in 1983, he is currently a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. Zach has been a USCG Captain for 15 years and currently holds a 200GT Master license. Bringing his local knowledge along with his friendly demeanor and infectious laugh, he is a welcome addition to the Pura Vida staff, and to the crew of the MV Sirena. Zach enjoys photography above and below the water and you can usually find him in and around the ocean in his free time. When asked about his favorite dive site he said he would get back to us after more investigation… That was some time ago and he is still diving and still has too many favorites to list.

Carol Uptergrove

Reservations Specialist, PADI Rescue Diver, Retail Sales Associate

Carol UptergroveOriginally born in Colorado, Carol moved to Florida when she was 10 years old. Now a recent graduate of Wellington High School, Carol has joined the Pura Vida Team to share her love for surfing, the ocean, and the South Florida lifestyle with others. In her free time, she plans to spend her summer surfing, hanging out at the beach, snorkeling, and learning to dive before heading off to Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the spring to pursue her dreams of earning her PhD in Mico-Immune Biology.  Until then, Carol is the pleasant voice at the end of the line, the smiling face behind the counter, and the one catching the most waves in front of Pump-House.

Tito Oliveras

PADI MSDT Instructor, DAN Instructor, Dive GuideTito Oliveras

Originally from New Jersey, Tito relocated to Palm Beach in 2012 and joined Pura Vidas Instructional Staff.  Although Tito has a regular “day job”, you can find him most any weekend teaching divers of all levels.  Tito’s PADI Specialty Instructor ratings (over 30 specialties) are a testament to his commitment to continuing his own diving adventure and education in order to better teach his students. Having taught a wide variety of students from entry-level Open Water Divers to professional-level Divemasters, Tito is patient and passionate in every aspect of his teaching career. His relaxed teaching methods quickly put his students at ease whether it is their first time entering the water or if they are experienced divers looking for a refresher or looking to continue their dive education.  Tito also enjoys technical diving, recently completing the PADI Tec Rec Trimix course.  His eyes are set on donning the rebreather in the very near future.

Marc Kaufman

PADI IDC Staff Instructor, EFR Instructor, Dive GuideMarc Kaufman

Marc Kaufman was born and raised in New York City.  As a young boy, Marc became fascinated with diving when he first watched The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.  In 1988, while earning his degree as an Optician, Marc achieved his PADI open water certification.  Still living in NY, Marc’s repertoire began with his exploration of the wrecks off the shores of Long Island and New Jersey. Always a student, Marc yearned to develop his knowledge and skill in technical diving. He challenged himself with learning the techniques of deep wreck diving in the cold North Atlantic.  Then, after extensive preparation, in 1992, Marc dove the infamous shipwreck “The Andrea Doria”.  Today, Marc has a demanding position as the Sales Director for an international luxury eyewear company. When not traveling, he enjoys teaching here off our South Florida shores.  Pura Vida Divers offers him the opportunity to share his passion for diving as a PADI IDC staff instructor teaching all levels of scuba diving.  His favorite dive sites are: The Blue Heron Bridge and The Breakers Reef.