Safe Cave Diving Awards

About safe cave diving awards...

NSS-CDS safe cave diving awards are presented to fully certified cave divers who have demonstrated a genuine dedication to cave diving safety, as evidenced by the successful completion of at least 100 (Abe Davis award), 500 (Henry Nicholson award), or 1,000 (Sheck Exley award) safe cave dives following the completion of full cave training equivalent.

Safe Cave Diving Award Winners

Please click here for an up to date listing of award winners.


Please return the appropriate form, along with a copy of your Cave Diver certification card to the Awards Coordinator, Brett Floren:

Emailing your form will result in faster processing.


Snail Mail:
295 NW Commons Loop, Suite 115-317
Lake City, FL 32055

Abe Davis

The Abe Davis Award is awarded for 100 safe cave dives following the completion of full cave training equivalent.

Abe Davis is America's first known cave diver.  Like countless cave divers who would come later, Davis was fascinated with Little River Springs in Branford, Florida.  However, living as a slave prior to the Civil War, Davis did not have the use of face mask, scuba or powerful lights which would later make extensive exploration of underwater caves a reality- he had to swim into the flooded entrance while holding his breath.  Davis's efforts are the earliest known instances of a person entering an underwater cave in the Western Hemisphere and are duly recorded in the Live Oak, Fla., Independent Post.

Read about the creation of this award in UWS Volume 6, Number 5, published in October 1979.

Download the application here:

Henry Nicholson

The Henry Nicholson Award is for 500 safe cave dives following the completion of full cave training equivalent.

Henry Nicholson made a number of contributions to cave diving, and was the driving force behind many of the rescue and recovery protocols still in use today.  As a sheriff's department dive team leader, Henry recognized the hazards facing public safety dive teams, particularly when team members found themselves in situations beyond their level of training and with inadequate technical equipment. Henry’s dedication to safety ultimately lead to the formation of the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery organization (IUCRR). The NSS-CDS award for 500 safe cave dives is appropriately in his honor.

Download the application here:

Sheck Exley

The Sheck Exley Award is for 1,000 safe cave dives following the completion of full cave training equivalent.

Sheck Exley is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of cave diving, and wrote two major books on the subject: Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival and Caverns Measureless to Man. On February 6, 1974, Exley became the first chairman of the Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society (NSS-CDS). During his career, Sheck established many of the basic safety procedures used in cave and overhead diving that are still in use today.  This award is presented in his honor, as Exley was the first person in the world to log over 1,000 safe cave dives.

Download the application here: