Videos 2017-06-11T21:02:54+00:00

Jim’s inspiring ideacity talk: Archaeology in the Final Frontier: The Ocean

Video Courtesy IdeaCity Mar 16, 2017

Jim reveals how he first got excited about exploring the underwater realm and how our understanding of the ocean, shipwrecks and technology has changed over time.

ideaCity 2017, described by CA TV’s “One” as Canada’s Meeting of the Minds. Produced and hosted by Moses Znaimer, ideacity is an annual conference in Toronto that gathers the most innovative people to say important things about the world. ideacity presents the best Talks of conferences past from giants like author Margaret Atwood, filmmaker Robert Lantos, social activist Henry Morgenthaler, media baron Conrad Black, astronaut Marc Garneau, and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Jim talks at UNESCO

Video Courtesy UNESCO Nov 11, 2016

In his previous role as Director of Maritime Heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jim talks about “The role of archaeology in major cases of pillaging concerning underwater cultural heritage – two case studies,” at the International Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris (22-23 September 2016).

Submarine Explorer in song as Jim narrates

Video Courtesy The Diving Bell October 30, 2014

Jim narrates the story of Submarine Explorer, alongside the alternative folk-rock group, The Diving Bell, who sings its tale.

Explorer was an incredible U.S. civil war invention built by German immigrant Julius Kroehl. State-of-the-art for its time, and fashioned for pearl diving, the story brings to light, fascinating details of the tiny vessel’s conception and operation, as well as the unfortunate effects of deep-water diving that its inhabitants were unaware of.

Purchase Jim’s book Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls. 

Nola – Jim’s Clipboard

Video Courtesy The Sea Hunters/Shipwreck Central, 2009

Nola, was a Civil War blockade runner that wrecked on a reef in Bermuda, and even though her hull is in pieces, it is largely intact, providing a fascinating view of ships of the era. Existing documentation of ships like Nola is rare as they were built mostly clandestinely or records were destroyed after the war. In this video, Jim explains as an archaeologist, what he’s looking for and how his underwater “clipboard”  – a slate with mylar paper – helps him to document what he finds on the bottom in order to enable him to continue his work topside.

Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet

Video courtesy ArchaeologyTV, 2009

The forces of nature and history brought Khubilai Khan and kamikaze together off the shores of Japan’s southern coast in the late thirteenth century. Even today in China and Japan, where Khubilai once reigned and where the battles and shipwrecks that marked his failed invasions played out, most do not have more than a cursory understanding of what really happened. Dimmed by the centuries, the details seemingly lost forever, the saga of Khubilai’s fleet has become a legend, a mythical tale of how two massive armadas, the greatest the world had ever seen, met their doom through the intervention of Japan’s ancestral gods, or a typhoon, depending on your beliefs. The legend, oft repeated in countless history books, speaks of gigantic ships, numbering in the thousands, crewed by indomitable Mongol warriors, and of casualties on a massive scale, with more than 100,000 lives lost in the final invasion attempt of 1281.

Determining the truth about these events is in the hands of historians and archaeologists who sift through the surviving archives and the broken, discarded or once-lost detritus of the past on search of answers.

Watch Jim as he talks about how his Japanese colleagues, Torao Mozai, Kenzo Hayashida and Randall Sasaki found the wrecks of many of the Khan’s ships and what it was like to join them on some investigative dives. Was the kamikaze (divine wind) really responsible for the destruction of one of the world’s largest maritime fleets?

Purchase Jim’s book Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada.

San Francisco Port of Gold

Video courtesy ArchaeologyTV, 2009

During the Gold Rush period, San Francisco grew from several hundred people to over 20,000. Thousands of vessels arrived between 1849 and 1856, discharging thousands of passengers and more than half a million tons of cargo. A unique waterfront was built that used ships as floating buildings, wharves and streets. A major fire destroyed this waterfront on May 4, 1851 (in fact, San Francisco had burned a total of seven times during the Gold Rush), but the foundations for a successful entrepôt (trading post) had been laid, and San Francisco became America’s New York on the Pacific.

Construction in downtown San Francisco constantly hits the buried remains of the city’s past, and because of historic preservation laws, when a developer can logically expect that their work will encounter important remains from the past, both the City and County of San Francisco and the State of California stipulate that they must test to see if archaeological remains are present, and depending on their significance, to fund an archaeological excavation. Over the past three decades, Jim has been privileged to work with colleagues Rhonda Robichaud and Allen Pastron from Archeo-Tec and Jim Allen from William Self Associates on several archaeological investigations of the incredible ships that helped put San Francisco on the map of worldwide trade.

Watch as Jim talks about the impact the Gold Rush had on the exploding port and how the burned shipwrecks became well preserved in a veritable Pompeii-like time capsule.

See photos and one of the archaeological projects Jim was involved in on identifying the remains of the whaler Candace here.

Purchase Jim’s book Gold Rush Port: the Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco’s Waterfront.

Archaeology Under the Waves

Courtesy ArchaeologyTV, 2009

Jim has spent over four decades in the fascinating world of undersea exploration. Watch as he talks about why he is so passionate about what he does and explains what it’s like to work as a maritime archaeologist. For Jim, it’s always been about being able to touch history and to share that experience with others.

Read about Jim’s professional history here.

Download Jim’s professional resume here.

Mouth of the Rio Chagres

Video courtesy Waitt Institute for Discovery, 2008

Jim’s 2008 expedition to Panama was two-fold; he and his colleagues from the Waitt Institute for Discovery and the Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panama (INAC) not only worked on Submarine Explorer but also headed over to the Rio Chagres (Chagres River) to carry out an archaeological survey of 18th and 19th century shipwrecks, including a site possibly associated with Henry Morgan’s 1671 attack on Panama. The Rio Chagres was a highway for trade, war and exploration for over five centuries, thus there is still much to investigate. When archaeologists find the remains of a shipwreck and evidence of its accompanying human activity, the archaeology-speak for this is called “cultural remains” or “cultural resources”.

Submarine Explorer

Video courtesy Waitt Institute for Discovery, 2008

In 2008, Jim returned to Explorer, along with a team of experts from the Waitt Institute for Discovery and the Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panama (INAC) to complete the documentation and begin the final archaeological report. Jim is Principal Investigator of this wreck, and as such, is responsible for all of the archaeological work done on her. Field expeditions like this are only part of the intensive and detailed work that professional archaeologists and their colleagues carry out over several years to ensure a comprehensive historical record is kept for science and to share with the general public.

Julius Kroehl’s Sub Marine Explorer

Video courtesy The Sea Hunters/Shipwreck Central, 2008

In 2001, while vacationing in Panama, Jim stumbled upon a mystery wreck first thought to be a Japanese midget submarine now known as Sub Marine Explorer, built by German-American engineer Julius Kroehl during the Civil War era. Since then Jim has completed three expeditions back to the sub. This video excerpt is from one of the episodes of The Sea Hunters (2001-2006) who graciously supported Jim in his work on this vital part of submarine history.

The submarine “Explorer” and its inventor Julius Kroehl were forgotten footnotes to history. It is one of the world’s oldest submarines, a vehicle for undersea combat and exploration and a product of the industrial revolution – forged in both the passionate fires of the Civil War and the foundry. It was the brainchild of an eccentric engineer and inventor now as forgotten as his incredible machine. It was seen as a means of winning the war, of wresting wealth from the depths. Instead it killed its inventor, and ended up discarded and forgotten in an isolated corner of the world.

Read more about the discovery at Spiegel Online.

Purchase Jim’s book Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls.