Beneath the Surface of San Diego | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Beneath the Surface of San Diego

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Ashleigh Palinkas
  • The beautiful coastal city of San Diego in southern California has been the nucleus of underwater exploration, innovation and research throughout sport diving’s relatively short history. Boasted as the home of the first dive club in the world, the first oceanographic research institution to use diving for science, and many of the most influential diving pioneers, San Diego has a rich cultural heritage in sport diving antiquity. Large and significant portions of this history have gone undocumented, as many stories and observations remain accessible only in the memories of these pioneers themselves. However, recreational divers in San Diego represent a large stakeholder group with a highly respected and knowledgeable capacity for shaping local marine resource management choices, and divers rely on the health and protection of these coastlines as a driver for their passions, leisure and fascination. The purpose of the project overall is to tell the history of sport diving in San Diego from the perspectives of those at its forefront.  Oral histories were recorded with eight experienced local San Diego divers who began diving recreationally and went on to become influential contributors to revolutions in marine science, diving technology and ocean resource management.

Interviewee Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation Collection
Frank Leinhaupel

One of the founding members of the San Diego Addicts Dive Club, Frank contributed countless artifacts and histories to this project. He set many records for competitive spearfishing, hand-crafted refined models of dive equipment from spearguns to sea sleds, and collected rare specimens as a scientific diver for Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He currently resides in La Jolla with his wife Suzy, and continues to provide insight and historical knowledge to new generations of divers with unmatched generosity.

Ashleigh E. Palinkas , San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Chuck Nicklin

Chuck is widely known for both his historical experience as a diver and his success in underwater photography. He recently published a chronicle of his experiences as an entrepreneur, National Geographic photographer, and cinematographer in his book, "Camera Man: Stories of My Life and Adventures as an Underwater Filmmaker" (available on Amazon.com).

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Chuck Mitchell

Chuck has logged decades as a scientific diver, research assistant, and student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and remains a close professional and friendly affiliate of the university. He remains actively involved as Managing Scientist of MBC Applied Environmental Sciences (MBC), which he founded in 1969 to conduct integrated studies of the marine environment in the face of coastal development. He is an expert in coastal environments spanning from Alaska to the Baja Peninsula, and enjoys spending time with his wife Kathy at their part-time home on the Sea of Cortez.

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Ron McConnaughey

Ron McConnaughey is a scuba diver and spear fisherman from San Diego, California.

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Dick Long

If you've ever dived a drysuit - or dived with someone who has - it's probably one that involved Dick's ingenuity and expertise. Founding owner of Diving Unlimited International, the top manufacturer of underwater exposure equipment, Dick has a legacy of keeping warm in the most intense of conditions. His skills have been solicited by military outfits around the world, and with a full-fledged R&D facility in San Diego, Dick remains to be in high-demand for those who want to dive deeper, longer, and stay warmer while doing it.

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Bill Howard

Bill Howard is a member of Addicts spearfishing club in La Jolla, California, which developed the Addict Speargun.

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Jim Fallon

Oral history interview with Jim Fallon.

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego
Barbara Allen

Oral History interview Barbara Allen.  

Ashleigh E. Palinkas San Diego, CA Scripps Institution of Oceanography Beneath the Surface of San Diego