MRR's Founding Member Bios
1980 – Diver/Crewmember, Marine Archeological Research and Salvage Inc. Our excavation of a 1628 shipwreck resulted in the recovery of hundreds of silver “pieces of eight” treasure coins and other historic artifacts.
1982 - First-Mate/Diver, Treasure Salvors Inc. Participated in proton magnetometer survey of the Santa Margarita with Fay Fields, one of the pioneers in the field. Also in the same year, while excavating the 1622 Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, recovered hundreds of silver coins, a gold bar, eleven very rare gold coins, a six foot long gold chain, and a spectacular gold belt with rubies, diamonds and pearls known as the “Cinta.” It is considered to be one of the most exquisite pieces of jewelry ever recovered from a Spanish galleon.
1983 - First-Mate/Diver, Cobb Coin Company Inc. Our team as a whole made a significant number of major discoveries, including five gold bars, a large hand-sized gold disc, hundreds of gold coins, thousands of silver coins, and countless historic artifacts.
1985/1989 - Captain/Diver/Owner, Tropical Treasure Salvors Inc. Worked along Florida’s treasure coast conducting metal detector surveys in unexplored areas of known wreck sites.
1990 - Owner/Operator, Tropical Treasure Salvors Inc. Turned a low budget operation into an extremely profitable one with the discovery of thirty eight gold escudos treasure coins, four gold rings, hundreds of silver “pieces of eight,” and a wide variety of historic artifacts.
1991/1992 – First-Mate/Diver/Survey Captain, Marine Archeological Research and Salvage Inc., in Grand Bahama. While conducting fifteen hundred linear miles of visual surveys of the southern coast of Grand Bahama, discovered nineteen unknown shipwrecks, recovered an intact mariners astrolabe dated 1602, as well as a significant number of coins.
2001/2002 - Owner/Operator, Tropical Treasure Salvage Inc. Conducted a shallow water excavation operation off the coast of Vero Beach, Florida. Recoveries included silver “pieces of eight” treasure coins and a number of artifacts from a previously unknown section of a 1715 galleon.
2006 - 2012 Chief of Operations/Diver/Salvage Captain for Keith Webb’s Blue Water Ventures of Key West: Design and implementation of salvage plans for Treasure Coast shipwrecks. Design and implementation of salvage plan to locate the missing sections of the Santa Margarita. While inconsistency of funding created ongoing impediments to progress, the plan proved fruitful with the recovery of thousands of artifacts, including silver coins, gold chains and jewelry, and weaponry worth multi-millions of dollars.
2009-2012 - Chief of Operations, American Shoal Archaeological Project. Instrumental in defining multiple scattered wreck sites while conducting search for a mid sixteenth century vessel and overseeing compliance with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
2012 - Onsite Operations Director/Diver/ Salvage Captain/Remote Sensing Director, IMDI-Eco Olas. Working in Central and South America, have identified and begun excavation plans on more than a half a dozen different treasure bearing Spanish galleons.
2013-2014 - Onsite Operations Director/Diver/ Salvage Captain/Remote Sensing Director/Conservation Director, IMDI-Eco Olas. Implemented excavation, recovery and conservation of the 1631 Spanish galleon San Jose in the Republic of Panama, worth multi-millions of dollars.
2014-2015 - Partnered with Mike McDowell and Jim Sinclair to form Maritime Research & Recovery, LLC. Designed and outfitted the excavation and recovery vessel Sea Reaper, a 65-foot fiberglass Light expedition vessel capable of stay on site in remote locations for up to 30 days. Captained Sea Reaper from Florida to the Caribbean side of Panama to locate and successfully map four Spanish galleons and one French vessel. Captained the return voyage to Florida gathering shipwreck information the entire way and located an undisclosed amount of shipwrecks, some known and some unknown. Captained the Sea Reaper to South Carolina and conducted survey and identification on two shipwrecks, including one with significant artifacts dating closely to the year of 1800.
2016 - Planning an excavation and recovery season along the East coast of Florida while in negotiations with three Caribbean countries for rights to pursue major shipwreck interests.
Dan Porter is a boat captain and shipwreck recovery operations director with three decades of experience in the industry. His unique qualifications, which combine old school hands-on work ethic with contemporary state-of-the-art acoustic and electronic sensing technical knowledge, have made him an in-demand consultant for numerous clients and one of the most proficient and sought after on-site directors today.
As MRR Director of Operations, Dan will direct strategies and oversee the Key West Santa Margarita project, the 1715 fleet search and recovery, as well as investigate and facilitate new undertakings. Dan literally grew up in the salvage industry—working with treasure hunting legend Mel Fisher and his protégées John Brandon, Mo Molinar, Fay Fields, and his own father, Don Porter. Practicing his own unique blend of straight science and uncanny intuition on some of the most famous shipwreck sites in the world, Dan has recovered multi-millions of dollars worth of treasures and innumerable artifacts of significant archaeological and historical importance.
Mike McDowell was born and educated in Australia and gained a B.Sc from the University of New South Wales, B.Econ from the A.N.U. in Canberra, and a Masters in Astronomy and Astrophysics (M.Sc) from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Over a period of 35 years Mike has pioneered a multitude businesses with the predominant theme of exploring and researching remote locations.
In 1985, Mike founded Quark Expeditions and developed it into a thriving adventure tourism and eco-tourism venture. For example, Mike led the first ever circumnavigation of the Antarctic coast with adventure travellers. Quark Expeditions continues to operate ice-breakers and polar research vessels on commercial adventure voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Mike has also been a director and major shareholder in Adventure Network International (ANI). ANI is the primary private aviation logistic support company in the interior of the Antarctic continent, the company’s size surpassing the programs of most nation states operating in Antarctica.
Space Adventures, a company successfully offering space travel to the general public, was founded by Mike and several other like-minded business partners. Considered ‘science fiction’ at its inception, Space Adventures has sent a number of private adventurers into space where they have spent time at the International Space Station. Mike was also one of the original shareholders of Zero Gravity Corp, operating Zero-G flights for science research and individual participants.
In an attempt to quench his thirst for knowledge about the world’s oceans, Mike founded Deep Ocean Expeditions (DOE) in 1998. Mike initially chartered the Russian MIR submersibles, capable of reaching depths of 6000m, to dive to the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1998. Since then, DOE has taken over the commercial management of these Russian owned and operated submersibles and has repeatedly dived the Titanic, the Bismarck and other deep wrecks for scientific research and extreme depth-diving tourism, being the first to ever take such tours. In addition, Mike has dived to other little known abyssal sites of enormous importance and interest, such as the hydrothermal vents of the mid-Atlantic ridge. In 2012 Mike logistically supported a private venture to search for giant squid in deep waters off the coast of Japan using three submersibles (which was filmed as a documentary to be made by NHK TV and Discovery Channel). Earlier the same year, Mike was integral to the success of US filmmaker James Cameron’s dive to the deepest part of the world’s oceans, the Mariana Trench, in the western Pacific.
In 2002, Mike purchased his own submersibles, Deep Rovers 1 and 2, and commissioned the construction of the smaller two-person Nuyttco Dual Deepworker submersible. In owning three submarines with 1000m depth ratings, Mike has very practical hands-on experience managing and operating submersibles in various parts of the world, and planning projects and logistics around them. More recent projects of Mike’s have included the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated tethered vehicles (ROVs) and sidescan technologies. In particular, Mike has significant experience and competence in underwater search and recovery, and his expertise was instrumentall in the finding of the ill-fated Air France A330 off the coast of Brazil.
On a personal basis, Mike has climbed to 8000m on the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest, and has summited the highest mountain in Antarctica, Mt. Vinson Massif. He has dog-sledded to the North Pole and dog-sledded across Greenland and also along the east coast of Greenland. He has taken part in a man-hauling expedition from the South Pole to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. In 2007 he was one of six submersible divers who successfully dived 4,500m beneath the North Pole.
As well as these expeditions to the far ends of the earth Mike has for many years organised significant natural history and scuba diving expeditions in the remote equatorial regions of Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Indonesia and many Pacific Ocean atoll groups.
Mike has travelled extensively on all continents of the world and has been organising land, ocean-going and aircraft supported expeditions to remote locations for more than three decades. Many thousands of expedition tourists from around the globe have taken trips of a lifetime through one of Mike’s ventures.
Mike enjoys an unparalleled safety record that, amongst other things, makes his operations very attractive to buyers within the industry. He has successfully on-sold earlier companies of his that still operate today. In moving from one venture to another he has also left many adventure concepts to fledgling companies that now operate as a legacy to Mike’s early trail blazing efforts. It is a tribute to Mike that many of his current clients were also some of his first ever clients when he began business in the 1970s.
In addition to producing great concepts for expedition experiences and research opportunities, Mike has a successful record of being able to carry these visions and ‘off the wall’ ideas from the concept stage through to fruition. He has demonstrated ability to progress his visionary ideas into environmentally, ecologically and economically sustainable businesses.
Mike’s creative and unconventional mind is always searching and thinking of what to explore next. He seems to adhere to the principles that drove the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary: “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Although driven by his personal thirst for knowledge and exploration, Mike says his greatest pleasure is in the sharing of experiences with others. Mike not only has the courage and imagination to dream large but believes in what he is doing and passes his enormous enthusiasm on to those who work with him.