Ocean Education International’s principal and founder, Dr. Alex Brylske, brings to the table a long and varied career as an educator, writer and program developer. For more than half his life he has taught a range of diving and marine science courses and seminars to both formal and non-formal audiences. His 40-plus year career has taken him to destinations all over the world including the Caribbean, Hawaii, Red Sea, Thailand, Indonesia, Fiji, the Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Micronesia, where he has worked for companies in the private sector, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Dr. Brylske’s unique and diverse background combines training as an educator and marine conservation biologist with a highly successful career in the dive tourism industry. This has given him both a solid grounding in environmental education and marine resource management, as well as an intimate understanding of the dive tourism industry.
Dr. Brylske’s experience with non-governmental organizations includes tenure as the Training Manager for Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL). There he was responsible for developing and conducting educational programs supporting CORAL's efforts to improve business practices in the marine recreation sector and build alliances between tourism operators and resource managers. He later served in a similar role with the Project AWARE Foundation as Marine Conservation and Education Specialist. Alex was also a Board Member of the Society for Ethical Ecotourism. His expertise in tourism was recognized in 2001 when he won NOAA’s prestigious Walter B. Jones Memorial Excellence Award for Ocean and Coastal Resource Management for his doctoral studies in how sustainable tourism can support effective marine resource management. In 2009 Alex was also honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography at Nova Southeastern University. Also, see Dr. Brylske interview with the Blue Ocean Network, where he discusses the challenges facing tourism and ocean resource management.
Alex currently holds an appointment to the Federal Advisory Committee for Marine Protected Areas , where he advises the U.S. Secretaries of Commerce and Interior representing the interests of non-consumptive recreational users. He also served for six years as a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; and is a former member of the Florida Governor’s Ocean Committee, where he helped make recommendations to the Governor’s Cabinet on the State’s ocean resource management policy. Dr. Brylske was also recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (reef.org). Currently, in addition to his work with OEI, Dr. Brylske serves as Sustainability Editor for Dive Center Business, the diving industry's largest trade journal, and Dive Training magazine.
Most recently, Dr. Brylske retired as Professor of Marine Science at the College of the Florida Keys in Key West. There he taught a range of courses in coral reef science including ecology, conservation, management, restoration and assessment. He also created the first course on sustainable marine tourism ever accredited in the Florida College System, “OCB 2071: Marine Ecology for Tourism Professionals.” In addition, he helped develop the institution’s unique Associate of Science degree in Marine Environmental Technology , served as the institution’s AAUS Diving Safety Officer and directed its scientific diving research program.
Throughout his long dive industry career, Alex has served in various roles. During much of the 1980s he was the Educational Program Development Manager for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). There he designed and wrote many of the programs and materials used today around the world to train divers of all levels. In fact, if you’re a PADI- certified diver you almost certainly were trained using curriculum and materials that he designed.
In 1988 Alex left PADI to start an independent consulting company, Instructional Technologies, Inc. (the parent company of OEI). From 1988 to 1993, he directed the professional training programs at PRO DIVE in Ft. Lauderdale. A PADI Course Director since 1980, Alex has trained more than 1,500 PADI Instructors. He also designed and wrote PRO DIVE’s Resort Operations Specialist (ROS®) Program, which for many years was the most popular course in world for training dive resort personnel. The culmination of his career as a diving educator came in 2002 when he was recognized by Skin Diver magazine as one of three individuals “who have defined diving and continue to push it forward," and was specifically described as “the man who wrote the book on diver education.”
For more than 20 years he served as Senior Editor of Dive Training magazine—America’s oldest national scuba diving publication. And for much of the time—writing more than 300 feature articles on subjects spanning environmental issues, marine science, hyperbaric physiology and diving safety—he was the most widely published author in the diving. Alex has also written or co-authored nearly a dozen books and manuals, including, Beating the Bends as well as PADI’s Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving. His latest book, The Complete Diver: The History, Science and Practice of Scuba Diving, was released in the fall of 2012. Alex has also served as a training consultant to the Divers Alert Network (DAN). His diving awards include the 2011 Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year for education, and the 2012 DAN Rolex Diver of the Year—one of the most prestigious honors in diving.
Dr. Brylske has an academic background matched by no other educator in his field. He holds a Master of Arts degree in instructional systems design from Vermont’s Norwich University. His area of specialty was developing valid instructional systems and materials for paraprofessional educators. His thesis practicum was the development of the original curriculum for the PADI Rescue Diver, Divemaster and Instructor Development programs.
In addition, Alex holds a dual Master of Science degree in marine biology and coastal zone management from the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography at Nova Southeastern University. His area of specialty was tropical marine ecology and resource management. His thesis explored the role of using recreational divers as "citizen scientists" to assist in coral reef research and monitoring.
Alex also holds both an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in science education with a technical specialty in oceanography from the Florida Institute of Technology. His dissertation explored how education can be used to promote responsible tourism and marine resource management and serves as the basis for many of OEI’s professional-level programs.
You can download Dr. Brylske’s full curriculum vitae here.
To hear an in-depth (one-hour) interview with Dr. Brylske about his background, and insights into why he established Ocean Education International clink here. (If you want to skip the background material and just hear about ECO PRO and sustainable tourism issues, fast forward to the 49th minute of the interview.)
Below is a list of invited presentations Dr. Brylske has conducted on sustainable marine tourism and related issues:
Brylske, A.F. (2019). The Changing Face of Caribbean Dive Tourism: Forging a Sustainable Path Forward. Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Sustainable Tourism Conference. St. Vincent and the Grenadines. August 27-29, 2019.
Brylske, A.F. (2013). Research Diving Versus Research Diving. Conference of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Curacao, October 24-26, 2013.
Brylske, A.F. (2010). Coral Reef Osteoporosis: Understanding Ocean Acidification. Annual Conference of the Florida Marine Educators Association. Key Largo May 15-17.
Brylske, A.F. (2010). Coral Grief: Coral Reefs in the Modern World. Annual Reef Fest. Key Largo, June 5-7.
Brylske, A.F. (2006). Using Fish as a Hook: The Role of the Aquarist in Coral Reef Conservation. 20th Annual Conference of the Marine Aquarium Council of North America. September 5-7.
Brylske, A.F. (2005). Diving and Sustainable Tourism: How The Islands of the Bahamas Can Remain Competitive in the World's Tourism Market. Presentation sponsored by the Bahamas Diving Association in cooperation with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. May 5-6, 2005.
Brylske, A.F. (2004). Divers and the Environment. Workshop on sustainable tourism, US Coral Reef Task Force meeting, Miami, FL, December 2-4.
Brylske, A.F. (2003). Does Diving Damage the Environment? Annual Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) Trade Show. Miami, FL, September 22-25.
Brylske, A.F. (2003). Cities Under the Sea: Are Metaphors Effective in Teaching Concepts in Coral Reef Ecology? Presentation to the annual conference of the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA). Wilmington, NC, July 21-24.
Brylske, A.F. (2003). Coral Reefs Tourism and the Dive Industry: Framing the Problem and Response. Managing Visitor Use in Coastal and Marine Protected Areas: A Regional Workshop on the Recreational Use of U.S. Caribbean Coral Reefs, August 21-22, 2003 St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Brylske, A.F. (2003). Managing Marine Areas: Public Interaction—The Role of Dive Tourism. Invited presentation at Capitol Hill Oceans Week, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC. June 11-12, 2003.
Brylske, A.F. (2002). The Role of Environmental Education in Mitigating Tourist-Related Damage to Coral Reefs: A Training Model for Tourism Professionals and Resource Managers. The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Report of the Regional Workshop for the Tropical Americas, June 12-14, 2002, Cancun, Mexico.
Brylske, A.F. (2001). A Model for Training Tourism Professionals in Tropical Marine Resource Management. Paper presented to the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, Leisure and Tourism Section, January 3-5, 2001. University of Plymouth, United Kingdom.
Brylske, A.F. (2001). Principal presenter. Workshop on Sustainable Marine Tourism in Komodo National Park. Grand Bali Beach Hotel, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia. February 28-March 2, 2001. Sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, Coastal and Marine Program—Indonesia.
Brylske, A.F. (2000). Shark Tourism: Issues and Attitudes. Paper presented to the Shark Symposium 2000, Nassau, Bahamas. December 14-15, 2000.