The ability to combine your work and your passion is something that we all aim for and James has certainly managed to do that. As an architectural historian he now spends his time looking for former sites of human occupation at the bottom of our oceans!
Full Name: James Edward Sved
Live In: Los Angeles/Washington, DC
Working For: Oceanogrpahic Archaeometry Research
Diver Qualifications: NAUI Advanced
When and where did you start diving?
I can not remember a time when I didn’t snorkel, but I took my dive certification course in college, in 1985. Our Openwater exam was in an old quarry in Virginia. The miners had hit a spring and the quarry filled with water. There was lots to explore – trucks, cranes, you name it. I remember it was very cold. That was my last freshwater dive.
Why did you start diving?
I was always fascinated with our oceans and what they could tell us. I had no idea that someday, I would be using those skills in my research – I just loved the ocean and sought to spend as much time as I could in it, on it, or under it.
What made you choose to become a dive professional? (if applicable)
I am an architectural historian. It didn’t take long for me to find a way to translate my interests in the sea into my professional work. Since the melting of last ice age, our oceans have risen 120m, enveloping more than 25 million square miles of once dry land. That once dry land is where the remains of the true history of our species now resides. I’ve made the search for former sites of human occupation – engineered structure at the bottom of the oceans – my primary research focus.
Which is your favourite dive site and why?
I can’t tell you where it is, because the find has not been properly recorded, yet.
What has been the most memorable dive of your life and why?
Last Christmas I swam in the middle of a huge school of blue tang, around the barrier reef in Roatan, Honduras. To be able to feel accepted into the school was a moving experience.
If you would come back as a marine life form in your next life, what would that be?
That is an easy one – a dolphin.
Who is your dream dive buddy?
Jacques Yves Cousteau. It was while watching Captain Cousteau on “The Undersea World” that I first became fascinated with the sea. I would gladly dive with Jean-Michel Cousteau, if you are in a position to make that happen. Runner up? Dr. Sylvia Earl.
What dive locations are on your dream “bucket list” and why?
There are some sites of interest I have identified by satellite, and which are related to my research. I will get to them all, and get back to you. Until then, I hope to see as many reefs as I can, before they are all gone. I prefer to visit natural habitats, as opposed to shipwrecks.
What is on your bedside table right now?
A Citizen Promaster Depth Meter Chronograph, a hard-bound edition of, “The Great Gatsby,” a tablet computer, and a glass of water.
What is your favourite piece of diving equipment and why?
My preference is for really long fins.
If you were to launch a campaign to raise awareness on a specific issue that affects divers, the oceans or marine life, what issue would you target and why?
Well, I sort of have raised an issue about the rich history that exists in our oceans, beyond shipwrecks, with my research. However, I think we have a lot to learn from dolphins and whales – unlocking the language barrier between humans and our marine mammal cousins is very important.
Where will you be in 10 years and what will you be doing?
With any luck, captaining the refurbished Calypso, and still swimming with my friends who are lucky enough to reside in our oceans.