BILL “BIRD” OESTREICH
Bill “Bird” Oestreich, owner of Bird’s Underwater Inc., started scuba diving in 1971, and received formal training and certification in 1974. Continuing recreational diving into his early 30’s, he decided to pursue a full time diving career in 1989. From that point on he became an instructor and eventually moved up through Instructor Trainer status. He teaches open water through Trimix , Closed Circuit Rebreathers and Cavern through Full Cave up through instructor levels. He teaches through TDI, NSS-CDS and IANTD.
Diving experience has included deep cave exploration and instruction in Brazil, as well as projects in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Belize. Bird completed the first exploratory dives on the Jaseur Banks, 300 miles off the coast of Brazil. He has logged thousands of open water and cave dives in his 40 year career.
Classes Bill teaches:
Nitrox, Advanced Nitrox, Decompression Procedures, Extended Range, Trimix, Advanced Trimix, Gas blending, Advanced gas blending, Solo diver, Drysuit diver, Cavern diver, Full cave diver, Stage cave diver, Cave DPV diver, Megalodon CCR diver, Megalodon Mixed gas diver, Cave CCR diver.
He is also an Instructor Trainer for all the above open circuit levels.
DIA NE OESTREICH
After one year at Purdue University in her home state of Indiana Diane met Bill “Bird” Oestreich, 11 years later they planted their feet in the sands of Crystal River, Florida for the purpose of establishing themselves in the diving industry. First business was to work at a local dive shop, and become full cave and Tri-mix certified back in the 90’s. Teaching status with NAUI
PADI, Cavern Diving instructor for the NSS/CDS and currently SDI-TDI,. Bird’s Underwater, Inc. was established in 1993 at the current location. Diane holds a 50 ton Captains license has conducted manatee tours for 28 years. Still consider Florida to be the best diving, but have had the opportunity to enjoy offshore, Blue Hole, and cave diving in the Bahamas, Andros, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Belize.
Currently head of administration at Bird’s, but really just wants to go spearfishing.
Captain Cody was raised in upstate New York in the Adirondacks. There, he was a back country fishing guide as well as a white water rafting guide. Cody moved to Crystal River in 2012. He is the general manager for Birds Underwater but he also runs swim with manatee tours in the winter and scallop hunting expeditions in the summertime. Since he started with Birds, Cody has become interested in scuba diving and has gone through quite a bit of training since he got hooked on the sport! Cody is now an Open Water Instructor through SDI/ TDI and is CCR (Closed Circuit Rebreather) certified. Bird got him into tech and cave diving. The caves of nearby Ginnie Springs is his favorite spot to dive locally. Cody is also an avid spear fisherman and tries to get off shore to spear in the Gulf as often as he can. He loves to travel and has done extensive traveling throughout Europe, New Zealand, and Fiji.
Captain Steve is from Plant City, Florida. He worked for 27 years as a Fiber Optics Engineer for the local phone company before deciding he needed a change of pace and opted for a life on the water! He has worked for 11 years now as a manatee tour captain and scallop hunting guide. He is a 50 ton master captain and has a second job as a towboat captain with Towboat US. Captain Steve loves the outdoors, especially camping, canoeing and fishing on local rivers with his kids and friends. He has 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls, ages ranging from 10-27 years old. Captain Steve has recently discovered he has a natural talent for painting. He is also our in-house meat man; he can smoke a mean brisket and makes the best chicken we’ve ever had!
Captain Paul grew up in northwest Illinois. He moved to Citrus County in 1976 and has resided in Homosassa ever since. That same year, Paul swam with his first manatee! He was the captain of a shrimp boat for 12 years and then an over the road truck driver for another 12. Captain Paul was a popular karaoke DJ for the local spot from 2006 until 2015 when he started working for Birds Underwater. He has run swim with the manatee tours in Crystal River ever since. When he isn’t with the manatees on Kings Bay, Captain Paul likes to go fishing and play guitar with his friends. He is a talented musician! For six years now, Paul has been the MC of the annual mullet toss for charity in Homosassa.
Captain Jeff Sandmann
For the last 15 years he has worked full time in the dive industry. He's worked on both coasts of Florida, Bahamas, Belize, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Hawaii. Working on a ship in the Caribbean for 720 days and completing the class work qualified him to be a 100 ton Captain. Previously, Jeff was a certified EMT for the state of Ohio and also has three degrees in environmental studies as well as worked five years with the United States Coast Guard. He is a Staff Instructor for SDI and a Master Scuba Diver Trainer for PADI. His classes will reflect the real world experience that you can't get from a book.
Rob, In-Water Guide
In-water guide Rob is a Florida native, originally from Lakeland. He served in the Marine Corps, in the First Marine Division, from 2008 until 2012. He has been an in-water guide with Birds for over a year now. He has taken up an interest in scuba diving since he started, having already become open water certified and is continuing his training. Rob always strives to the most eco-friendly guide he can be and is very knowledgeable about the wildlife in this area. In his spare time, he likes to go fishing, boating, spearfishing, and scuba diving. Guiding manatee tours and diving has allowed Rob to discover his passion for underwater photography and he loves getting to do it every day. Rob also loves coming up with corny jokes to tell on his tours!
Brittany, In-Water Guide
In-water guide Brittany is from southwestern Ohio. She worked in home healthcare and studied International Studies in School, also working as a freelance photographer on the weekends. Brittany loves anything and everything to do with the water, scuba diving, freediving, and underwater photography. She came to Birds Underwater to get her dive master certification and got hooked on the manatee tour guide life. She loves to travel and explore the world: hiking, diving, climbing, and capturing the world with her camera. The Florida springs are one of her favorite places in the world and the Rainbow River drift dive is her local favorite because of the variety of wildlife that is found there. She especially loves working with kids and teaching them about manatees and the other animals of the area.
Jessie, In-Water Guide
In-water guide Jessie is another Florida native, from Silver Springs. She has served in the Navy for 13 years, in the reserves now. Jessie has a lifelong love for manatees and has worked as an eco-guide for 2 years. A good portion of Jessie’s free time is devoted to manatees. She volunteers on manatee rescue teams and participates in manatee health assessments whenever she can. Jessie is also the secretary of the Manatee Eco Tourism Association, a local non-profit organization that strives to coordinate harmony amongst the community, Fish and Wildlife Service and the manatee tour industry by facilitating communication, upholding standards, and promoting education and awareness about manatees. Jessie also enjoys running (she is currently training for her first marathon), hiking, kayaking, and anything in nature or in the water!
Joe, In-Water Guide
In-water guide Joe grew up in northern Wisconsin. He was an active swimmer already at the age of 2 and strangely always preferred to swim underwater! Joe spent 15 years in Wisconsin law enforcement, many of those years spent as a K-9 handler/ trainer. He is a ‘snow bird’, spending summers in Wisconsin and winters in Florida. Joe has been married for 30 years to his wife Sandy, with whom he has two children and 4 grandchildren. He is an active horseman and enjoys riding the trails with his wife. Joe is also a certified open water scuba diver, with advanced certification and also ice diving training! He has been a tour guide for Bird Underwater for 2 years now and he truly enjoys what he does. Joe has a clear love for animals, a gentle nature, and an awesome sense of humor, all of which make him a very good in-water guide.