Jim Fallon

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Beneath the Surface of San Diego


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.

Date of Interview
Principal Investigator
Biographical Sketch

Jim Fallon is a long-time resident of San Diego, having moved there at the age of 10 in 1951. He began diving in junior high school, around the age of 12 or 13, initially focusing on free diving for abalone at Birdrock. Fallon attended PB junior high school and later Mission Bay high school, identifying himself as a local beach boy. His diving companions during his early years included Bill Curtis, Chuck Grabowski, Ted Patchen, and Randy Chapman. Fallon and his friends would wear navy sweaters purchased from the Navy surplus store as they didn't have wetsuits. Fallon's interest in diving expanded over time, moving from abalone hunting to spearfishing, photography, and other related activities. He began working at the Diving Locker in 1959 or 1960, becoming the first employee outside of the store's owner, Chuck Nicklin. The store was owned by scientific diving consultants, primarily from Scripps.

Scope and Content Note:
This interview with Jim Fallon, conducted by Ashleigh Palinkas on March 19, 2014, provides a detailed account of Fallon's experiences and perspectives on diving in San Diego. Fallon discusses his early years of diving, his companions, and the evolution of his interests within the field. The interview also touches on Fallon's professional experience working at the Diving Locker, a store owned by scientific diving consultants from Scripps. Fallon's interactions with other notable figures in the diving community, such as Al Stover, are also mentioned. In addition to diving, the interview includes personal anecdotes and discussions about the local community, including social gatherings and Fallon's connections with other residents. The interview concludes with a discussion about the importance of documenting and preserving these oral histories for future generations.

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The NOAA mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. The Voices Oral History Archives offers public access to a wide range of accounts, including historical materials that are products of their particular times, and may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes.

Voices Oral History Archives does not verify the accuracy of materials submitted to us. The opinions expressed in the interviews are those of the interviewee only. The interviews here have been made available to the public only after the interviewer has confirmed that they have obtained consent.