Albert Jose "Doc" Jones: The Underwater Adventure Seeker
Have you ever wondered about the stories that lie beneath the ocean's surface? For Albert José Jones, also known as "Doc Jones”, the ocean is a world waiting to be explored. And, he's been making waves in the diving community for over 60 years!
It all started with his love for the water. Born and raised in Washington D.C., as a boy he spent his days swimming in city pools and diving into creeks and ponds to collect frogs, turtles, and lizards. His passion for the ocean was only natural.
Doc Jones’ affinity for swimming grew so much while he served in the U.S. Army that he learned to scuba dive. After serving a tour of duty in the Korean War and returning home to Washington, D.C. with a Purple Heart, Doc Jones enrolled at Howard University. He was certified in diving at Howard University and quickly became a pioneer in the sport. When existing diving clubs in the 1950s and 60s wouldn't allow African Americans to join, he had no choice but to create equal access.
So what did Doc Jones do? Doc Jones made history in 1959 when he founded Underwater Adventure Seekers (UAS), the first club for African American scuba diving enthusiasts.
He formed UAS while he was a senior in college. UAS is one of the oldest dive clubs in the world, and it predates most national certifying organizations.
"I knew there were others like me who loved the water like I did, who had the same desire to see the world," says Jones. "It didn’t make sense that people who felt as strongly as I did about it would never even get the chance to see what the world looked like beneath the water."
Doc Jones holds a Master’s Degree from Howard University in Aquatic Biology and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Marine Biology. He was a three-time Fellow of the National Science Foundation. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied Marine Biology at the University of Queensland, Australia and dove the Great Barrier Reef for two years.
As a master scuba instructor, Doc Jones has amassed more than 6000 dives in more than 50 countries. Doc Jones is a spearfishing champion, a scuba rodeo champion, and an underwater photographer & videographer. Doc Jones received the Scuba Schools International (SSI) Platinum 5,000 Award for logging over 5,000 dives and contributing to the development of recreational scuba diving in America.
Doc Jones is co-founder, former president, and current chair of the Science & Education Committee of the National Association of Black Scuba divers (NABS). NABS, organized in 1991 under his leadership, has formed over fifty dive clubs in the United States and around the world, many of them are modeled after UAS. Through UAS and NABS, Dr. Jones and his team have trained and certified over 2,000 divers free of charge. In forty-five years he has taught over five thousand people, mostly children, to swim.
A man of many talents, Doc Jones is also a seventh degree black belt in Taekwondo Do. For more than thirty-eight years, he has trained thousands of adults and children in the Washington, DC area free of charge.
Doc Jones’ career as an educator and scientist spans more than thirty-seven years. For twenty-five years he taught at the University of the District of Columbia as a professor of marine biology and environmental science. He also served as Chairman of the Department of Environmental Science, Dean for the College of Life Sciences and Provost and Vice President of the University.
Through his efforts, Doc has made scuba diving accessible for African Americans, allowing them to reframe the narrative about the transport of Africans to the Americas. By training men and women like him, he created a pipeline into fields where African American representation has been minimal or non-existent.
With access comes opportunity, and through Jones' groups an innovative organization was born: Diving with a Purpose. Diving with a Purpose is an organization that documents shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade. The group works to uncover the stories of those who were captured and transported on the slave ships. More than 150 years after the emancipation of enslaved Africans in America, many artifacts and remnants of this dark history are still being discovered.
Through his efforts, Doc Jones has not only made a lasting impact on the diving community, but he's also connected people to their own history in a way that was never possible before. So, the next time you're ready to dive into the ocean, remember the legend that paved the way - Doc Jones!
Sunken Treasure Hunt
- Printouts of Find the Sunken Jewels activity sheet (included)
- Markers, crayons, pens or pencils
- Arrrgh Mighty Observation Journal (optional)
What can you spy with your explorer eye? Can you find the treasures hidden deep beneath? The quest starts here, so Let’s Go!
- Break out your Sunken Jewels activity worksheet
- Locate and circle the jewels pictured
- How many Penelope the Pirate Princess characters can you find?
- BONUS: Locate the slave shackles & treasure chests!
- Optional: Take out your Arrrgh Mighty Observation Journal and give your sunken ship a name. Then write a short description of what you saw while diving in the deep!
- What types of marine animals did you see?
- What types of marine plants did you observe?