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.

Jeffrey Philips

General Operations Manager, PADI MSDT Instructor

Jeffrey PhilipsOriginally from New Castle, Pennsylvania, Jeffrey headed south to pursue a degree at Florida Technological University. Upon graduation, Jeffrey entered corporate America as a programmer and quickly worked his way up to project manager. Jeffrey strapped on a scuba cylinder (when Clorox bottles were BCD’s) for the first time in 1967, and loved it so much he got certified a few years later. He became a Padi Instructor in 1986 and co-taught with his wife, Kitty.  In 1988, they opened a charter boat operation, Seascape Charters and then developed Mermaid Dive Guides where he and Kitty specialized in dive travel to the Bahamas and Caribbean with side trips to Land Ends and Fiji.  After managing another local dive operation in West Palm for 8 years, Jeffrey joined the PVD team in 2012 as General Operations Manager. Jeffrey loves telling stories about the rich and famous and sharing the history of our dive sites.  He also writes articles on Palm Beach dive sites and in 2011 published his first novel, “Murder on Devil Ray Reef”.  His favorite dive sites include:  Turtle Mound, Spearman’s Barge and Lost Shaft.

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 Photographer

captain zachCaptain 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.

Allison Knox

Event Planning, PADI IDC Staff Instructor, EFR Instructor

10577026_10152639205934558_3623004926917409793_nWhile attending Stockton University, Allison interned as a reef specialist in the Florida Keys and realized Florida was where she wanted to be. After receiving her B.S. degree in Marine Science, Allison moved to Florida, became a PADI IDC Staff Instructor and began her career in the dive industry. Over ten years later, she still loves to bring SCUBA joy to new divers. She joined Pura Vida Divers as the PR Representative and Events Coordinator in 2012. Her favorite dive sites off West Palm Beach include Juno Ledge and Bath & Tennis.

Lazaro Ruda

Wildlife Photographer, PADI Divemaster

Lazaro-Ruda-300x300Raised in south Florida, Laz grew up respecting the ocean. His unwarranted fears of the ocean’s mysteries evolved into an endless fascination during his childhood summers in Key West. Over thirty years later, this love affair for the ocean became his life. Whether on an ocean adventure or reading books on its natural history, few things capture his attention with such an invigorating passion. Through his web site he engages viewers with the wonder of this incredible world. He hopes his images and stories will help you understand our amazing ocean planet a little better, making his passion and admiration for the natural world your own.

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.

Jonathan Currey

PADI Instructor, Dive Guide, Retail Sales Associate

Jonathan CurreyOriginally from Cincinnati, Ohio, born into a military family, Jonathan lived in several states while growing up but when his dad retired to Jupiter, FL he found a place he could call home.  Shortly after arriving he got his Open Water Certification and then followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the U.S. Air Force where he managed the logistics, inspection, maintenance and accountability of the munitions stockpile.  During his career in the USAF he earned a dual Master of Arts in Leadership & Management and Human Resource Management from Webster University.  After 21 years of service he decided it was time to come home.  Jonathan returned to the sea and earned his Open Water Scuba Instructor Certification in 2015 and joined the PVD soon after.  Favorite dive sites: “I enjoy a good wreck or something with a beautiful, expansive view like Tear Drop”.


Neil Copas

Fill Station Operations, PADI Divemaster, Dive Guide

65269_10100282078988365_5986310_nNeil first discovered his love for the ocean on a family vacation snorkeling in Cozumel when he was 13. After graduating from Ohio State University in 2007 with a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering, he moved to Melbourne FL for work. Shortly after moving to Melbourne, Neil received his Open Water certification and began diving many of the southeast Florida dive sites. In 2010 Neil quit the corporate world and moved to New Zealand for a lifestyle change. The diving in New Zealand lead him to go “Pro” and he received his PADI Divemaster in Thailand. Now, back in Florida, Neil is excited to continue his professional career at Pura Vida and to dive the amazing dive sites of Palm Beach Florida.

Jenelle Loughner

PADI Instructor, Dive Guide, Retail Sales Associate

Jenelle LoughnerJenelle grew up in Monongahela, PA, a small town outside of Pittsburgh. Before she could even talk Jenelle fell in love with The Little Mermaid and dreamed of becoming a mermaid. At the age of 15, Jenelle followed her dreams and became a scuba diver. A graduate from Barry University in Miami Shores, FL with an undergraduate degree in Sports Management specializing in Scuba Diving Industries, and minors in Business and Public Relations, and a Masters degree in Sport Management, Jenelle has joined the Pura Vida Team as an Instructor and Retail Sales Associate.

Katie Sandidge

PADI Instructor, Dive Guide

10170930_10152316116826760_712150977401350201_n-300x200Katie is one of our few Florida natives hailing from Stuart. She was raised on the ocean and loves to participate in all ocean related activities… diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, and even fishing. Katie’s love for the ocean lead her half way around the world to Indonesia, where she completed her Divemaster Certification. While in Indonesia, Katie aided her instructor in collecting Reef Manta ID photographs for a PADI distinctive specialty course: Mantas of Komodo Island. Her goal was to get photos of the manta’s underside between their gills. In addition to manta identification, she participated in manta, shark and tuna counts on every dive. Katie recently earned her PADI Instructor rating at Pura Vida’s Instructor Development Program.  Katie needs more time to pick her favorite dive sites in Palm Beach, so until then she is happy to dive where ever Sirena takes her. 


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.

Ian Flinchbaugh

PADI Divemaster, Dive GuideSirena

As a young child, Ian’s passion for the ocean developed surrounded by a family of divers. Before he was old enough to dive he would snorkel above his parents and sister regardless of their depth. He was certified to dive only a week after his twelfth birthday, the youngest age any agency would allow at the time.  One month after graduating from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Elementary Education, he moved to West Palm Beach to begin a career of teaching and diving. He currently teaches 3rd, 4th and 5th grade Science and shares his love of the ocean with his students. He works for Pura Vida as much as his teaching schedule will allow.  Ian’s favorite dive sites are Juno Ledge and Paul’s Reef.

Jocelyn Johansmeyer

PADI Instructor, Dive Guide, Retail Sales Associate

Jocelyn JohansmeyerJocelyn comes to us from Orlando, Florida. She joins the Pura Vida Family each summer in between college semesters.  Jocelyn attends Seminole State where she is working on her business degree, but she loves diving every chance she gets. She recently earned her PADI Instructor Rating at Pura Vida’s Instructor Development Program and will be teaching classes all summer long.  Her favorite dive sites are