My life has been defined by a quest to learn about the past and to share what I have learned with others. As a maritime archaeologist who works around the globe, I’ve spent decades in the fascinating world of underwater exploration.
I’ve been privileged to host the popular television show The Sea Hunters for five years, was Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for 15 years, and was Executive Director and then President of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) from 2006-2010, before beginning my tenure as Director of the Maritime Heritage Program for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
James (Jim) Delgado brings four decades of scientific expertise in marine archaeology and deep-sea exploration, and a solid background in history, museums, and outreach through media, film, and publications. He is a scholar and a world-recognized interpreter whose work has reached hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, especially through his six seasons of work as host of a National Geographic International Television series. Jim’s work enhances the work of NOAA’s Sanctuaries through public appreciation of special ocean places while also working to better understand and protect the resources found in each sanctuary and in the nation’s waters.
Jim has extensive experience implementing projects around the world, often through public/private partnerships. He served as the founding director of the National Park Service’s maritime preservation program during a 13-year career with the NPS. Many of the U.S. Government’s standards for maritime resources were developed by him or under his direction during those years. He left the government to serve, for 15 years, as the Executive Director of the Vancouver (Canada) Maritime Museum, and concurrently as a TV host for Discovery, the History Channel, A&E and National Geographic. After leaving the museum, he became President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the world’s leading institute for the excavation and study of some of the world’s most significant shipwrecks for nearly five years before joining NOAA as Director of Maritime Heritage in NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
Jim holds a Ph.D. in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University, has a M.A. in Maritime Studies from East Carolina University, and he earned his B.A. in History from San Francisco State University. He has published actively in leading archaeology and history journals and has written or edited more than 32 books on archaeology and history, most recently Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls, Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare, Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War (winner of the 2011 Choice Award), Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search a Legendary Armada (winner of the 2011 Deetz Award), and Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco’s Waterfront. His books Lost Warships: An Archaeological Tour of War at Sea and Across the Top of the World: The Quest for the Northwest Passage are both international best-sellers published simultaneously in North America and Britain. Other books include Waterfront: An Illustrated Maritime Story of Greater Vancouver, Adventures of a Sea Hunter: In Search of Famous Shipwrecks, the Encyclopedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology, Ghost Fleet: The Sunken Ships of Bikini Atoll, Pearl Harbor Recalled: New Images from the Day of Infamy, Great American Ships, To California by Sea: A Maritime History of the Gold Rush, and three books for children; Wrecks of American Warships, Native American Shipwrecks, and Shipwrecks of the Westward Movement.
Jim is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Canadian Geographical Society, and the Explorers’ Club, and most recently was made an Officer of the Order of Civil Merit by His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain.