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James L. Whitaker and Associates
Underwater Search * Survey * Salvage
Jupiter, Florida
(561) 575-6506
fax (561) 575-6507

Seafloor Mapping Consultant

Background and Experience:

  • 1963-69 - Designed and built a coal processing facility, including the railroad siding at Haddix, KY. First hand experience in procurement of heavy equipment for tipple operation and strip mine site, i.e.: cranes, front-end loaders and shovels. Also operated and maintained thirteen (off road) coal dump trucks.
  • 1969-70 - Supervised demolition and salvage operations using heavy equipment and trucks. Gained knowledge in hauling and shipping heavy equipment.
  • 1970-72 - Designed and set up the production line for aluminum extrusion factory, including the purchasing of all machinery. Managed a fifteen man daytime shift, handled ordering material, shipping and receiving, time sheets, and machinery repair supervision.
  • 1972-81 - Started my own thermal forming plastic factory. Designed and set up the plant and procured all machinery. Began engineering custom vacuum-formed plastic components for major supply companies.

Joined the Marine Archaeology Advisory Council of the Broward County Historical Commission. Actively excavated and surveyed historical sites in the county. Activities included underwater photography, TV filming, griding photomosaic, and salvaging artifacts (including cleaning and restoration).

  • 1981-83 - Evaluated the production requirements, then procured the equipment necessary to set up a thermal forming production line for a large corporation in Tampa, FL. Hired and trained two shifts. Ordered raw materials, supervised production and shipping.

Purchased and EG&G 866 magnetometer and Aqua-Pulse metal detector. Designed and built a water blower for moving large amounts of sand; and an air lift and water jets to excavate archaeological sites. Also developed and used an air bag system (25-ton capacity) for salvaging.

Researched various salvage techniques used in marine historical sites. Developed and refined techniques for using side sonar, sub bottom profiler, magnetometer, and aqua –pulse metal detector. Began research and development on the software to integrate with a computer, side scan sonar, and magnetometer to produce three dimensional profile graphs, surface plots and contour maps of target areas.

Worked as a consultant for Ribikoff Underwater Products on underwater video systems, and underwater propulsion vehicle to carry a camera on a stable platform for producing photo mosaics and pipeline surveys.

Formed my own company, Ocean Retriever, as an electronic underwater survey leasing company. Began research and development on deep water R.O.V. for use on potential sites, which led to work on designing the computer software for building an A.U.V (autonomous underwater vehicle).

  • 1983-85 - Worked as a consultant for a heavy equipment salvage company. Procured specific heavy equipment and supervised the repairs, moving and shipment of equipment to buyers. Developed and built a 6" dredge system suitable for excavation of environmentally sensitive marine salvage sites.

Participated with the Historical Society, at the U.S. Navy’s request, in locating a highly sensitive historical deep-water target. Worked as a navigator on the 74 foot, "Ursula Major" for a 1200 mile ocean trip Connecticut to Miami and return.

  • 1985-86 - Worked as a project manager for an international marine contractor. Engineered the construction projects at several sites, supervised a 10-15 man crew, procured special equipment, handled the shipment of equipment and men to job sites.
  • 1986-87 - Actively participated in the mobilization planning of search and recovery projects. Shallow and deep water salvage such as: N.A.S.A shuttle recovery FSW 60-1200; South African Airline FL# 295 recovery FSW 14,600; Central Americas search off Carolina coast FSW 8,300. (FSW = feet standing water)

Designed and installed new hydraulic circuits for various search and salvage equipment. Planned warehouse layouts. Engineered electrical re-wiring of the "Hut" proposal. Handled specific equipment procurement.

  • 1987-88 - Developed survey plan to locate two pleasure yachts for insurance company FSW 500, executed the plan which resulted in a video record of evidence for the insurance Co., Tampa, FL.

Executed a magnetometer survey for an archaeological expedition on the Bahamas Banks, FSW 12-15. Seaview, Los Angeles, California.

Sonar survey of hazards to navigation due to the sinking of the dredge "Crest" at Fernandina Beach Harbor entrance FSW 50.

  • 1988-89 - Rented equipment for archaeological search off the coast of Spain.

Rented equipment to Ocean Probe, Inc., Houston, TX.

Supplied numerous sonar and magnetometer rentals to Oceaneering International.

Planned, set up and operated search equipment for treasure ship in 1500 ft of water in Dry Tortugas for Tampa group.

  • 1989-91 - Search, locate and survey operation for numerous insurance investigations: Big Pine Key, FL FSW 170; sonar search off Marathon, FL for speed boat FSW 150; sonar search and location of 40 ft sail boat Key West, FL FSW 200.

Archaeological magnetometer searches and surveys northern Bahamas Banks
FSW 12-60.

Magnetometer search and survey Spanish ship Puerto Rico FSW 60; sonar and magnetometer search Spanish ships Tampa, FL FSW 750.

Helicopter location Sea of Japan FSW 3500.

Sonar search copper shipwreck Long Island, NY FSW 750.

Classified Navy search Kauai, HI.

Sonar location ship’s anchor St. John’s River, FL FSW 60.

Magnetometer and sonar search with two-man submarine for verification in the Gulf of Mexico FSW 250.

Participated in search and location of W.W. II treasure ship off the coast of Oman
FSW 6300.

Director of field operations, search and excavation of 1750 shipwreck, Beaufort, NC.

Co-director of field operations, excavation of Spanish wreck, Jupiter, FL.

Consulted during the planning stages for several archaeological surveys and treasure searches.

Developed specialized tools to be used on R.O.V. for deep-water salvage.

Developed and implemented computer collection program for magnetometer data, so 3-dimensional graphs could be made to allow for more precise interpretation of the data.

  • 1991-92 - Search, locate and recover Cessna 421 off coast of Fernandina Beach, FL after Coast Guard and insurance company couldn’t locate. The family of the pilot called me in. The plane was located using sonar 24 miles off the coast, bodies and plane were recovered.

Magnetometer survey and developed plot plan of anomalies off the coast of Melbourne, FL

Magnetometer searches and locate treasure ships off the Pacific and Gulf sides of Panama.

Extensive magnetometer survey on the Bahamas Banks in search for Spanish treasure ships.

Sonar search and locate for insurance company boat sank off Lake Worth Inlet, FL.

Sonar location and mapping of pipe lines in Lake Maracibo, Venezuela.

Participated in the salvage of cement barge that had turned over after being hit by a tug Lake Maracibo, Venezuela.

Continued on the search and excavation of 1750 shipwreck Beaufort, NC.

  • 1993-94 – Sonar, sub-bottom survey for new pier construction in Gulf of Venezuela, for oil refinery.

Magnetometer survey off Florida Keys FSW 90.

Sonar search and participated in television documentary for any Atlantis evidence or more Bimini stones.

Magnetometer survey for sewage out-fall in Ponce, Puerto Rico FSW 150.

Magnetometer searches and locate treasure ships off Abbaco, Bahamas.

Magnetometer survey, location and identification of anomalies of a 10 square mile area offshore the Florida coast.

Magnetometer survey of a near shore site of the 1715 Fleet, Florida coast.

Sonar survey for oil pipe laying off the coast of Barcelona, Venezuela FSW 100.

Continued on archaeological magnetometer search and survey on the northern Bahamas Banks.

Sonar survey for water out-fall Barcelona, Venezuela.

Classified Navy search off coast of South Carolina, Florida, Bahamas FSW 4000.

Sonar search, locate the point of impact and recovery of the cargo from an oil supply boat collision at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Magnetometer survey of Spanish wreck off coast of Ecuador FSW 20-60.

Preservation of numerous iron marine artifacts in electrolysis processing.

Sonar search to locate pilot boat lost off West Palm Beach, FL FSW 60.

Classified search for lost cargo in muddy lake.

Consultant in all stages for several treasure searches and excavations.

Sonar search and location of equipment off barge in Jacksonville Channel,
Jacksonville, FL.

Magnetometer survey of offshore reefs in Colombian waters.

  • 1995-96 – Sonar, magnetometer survey of Spanish wreck off the Florida coast FSW 15-45.

Remote control TV location of lost WW II relic off coastline of Belize FSW 450.

Magnetometer search for 16,000-lbs. ship’s anchor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL FSW 45.

Sonar, R.O.V. search for Spanish wreck in Mexican waters FSW 45-150.

Consultant for a group doing a small magnetometer survey off Cuba.

Rented equipment to Oceaneering technologies, Inc. for numerous surveys.

Planned and operated magnetometer search, survey for treasure ship off Philippines FSW 200.

Co-director of field operations and supervised all electronic equipment for a 10 month sonar search off shore Georgia and South Carolina coastline FSW 40-1800.

Magnetometer, sonar searches for numerous insurance investigations.

Sonar search for governmental agency, lost aircraft with contraband aboard off
Florida coast FSW 30-75.

Relocated and continued sonar search for Atlantic evidence or more Bimini stones.

Consultant for search, excavation of 400 year old timber on lake bottom of lake Superior.

Continued proofing, locating magnetometer targets of shipwrecks off Beaufort, NC. One target identified as the "Queen Anne’s Revenge" the lost flagship of Blackbeard.

Sonar search of coral reef for removal path of ocean freighter grounded on reef off
Miami Beach, FL.

Past Employment History:

  • 1963-69 – General manager of Haddix Coal Corp., Haddix, KY (owned by U.S. Coal of Cleveland)
  • 1969-70 – Project foreman for Big Chief, Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, FL – supervised demolition and salvage operations.
  • 1970-72 – Plant manager of Limelight Systems, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL – designed the production line, supervised the day shift, purchasing and shipment of profile aluminum extrusions.
  • 1972-81 – Owner/President of Vacu-Form, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL – R&D and production of custom plastic vacuum formed components.
  • 1981-83 – Thermal-forming production manager of Excel Industries, Inc., Clearwater, FL (subsidiary of Pet Milk Co.)
  • 1983-85 – Consultant for Machinery Parts, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL
  • 1985-87 – Project manager for Sea Tech International, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
  • 1986-88 – Special projects manager for Steadfast Oceaneering, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (subsidiary of Oceaneering International, Houston, TX)
  • 1987-present – Survey and salvage engineer/technician – J.L. Whitaker & Associates, Jupiter, FL.


  • 1961 – graduated from Pine Crest Preparatory School, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • 1961-62 – Broward Community College, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • 1962-63 – Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (geology major)


  • Born in Cleveland, Ohio January 14, 1942 – Florida resident since May 1969

Community Activities:

  • Ran for sheriff on Breathitt County, KY in May 1969 (won primary)
  • Packmaster, Cub Scout pack 190, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • President of Holiday park American Little League, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 1978-79
  • Served on the city of Ft. Lauderdale, FL parks and Recreation Sports Youth Council 1980-81
  • Active member of Parents-Teachers Association 1970-87
  • Member of Ft. Lauderdale High School advisory council 1981-85
  • Member of Society of Plastic Engineers 1979-87
  • Executive Board Member – marine Archaeology Advisory Council – Broward County Historical Commission – 9181-91 – Treasurer 1984-85 – Vice President 1992-93
  • Executive Board Member – Rebikoff Institute of marine Technology 1989-91


  • Master electrician
  • Specialty contractor
  • Open water diver
  • Boat captain
  • Side scan sonar
  • Sub-bottom profiler
  • Magnetometer
  • Remote operated vehicles
  • Survey quality navigation
  • Salvage master – 250 tons
  • Diesel mechanic
  • Hydraulics specialist

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