Dr. Albert Jose “Doc” Jones, a pioneer in the world of scuba diving, has certified thousands as an instructor. Dr. Jones is the founder of the first scuba diving club for African-Americans, and his efforts to increase diversity in the sport has led to an even greater mission.
Jones, a native of Washington, D.C., loved the water ever since he was a boy. That affinity for swimming served Jones well while serving in the U.S. Army where he learned to dive. In 1957, Jones applied to join a scuba diving club.
With the help of one of the club’s employees, Jones was selected while at a boat show becoming one of the club’s few Black divers. That inspired Jones to think of starting his own club.
Two years later, Jones and five other others were certified divers by a U.S. Navy officer and at a pool at Howard University and the Underwater Adventure Seekers was established. The club operated on a small, grassroots scale as scuba diving was limited in the African-American community. The Seekers hoped to change that and Jones was the group’s public face.
In 1965, lifeguard Shirley Lee saw Jones with his scuba gear and inquired how she could get involved. Under Jones’ tutelage, Lee became the first certified Black female scuba diver in the United States.
Jones has mentored and taught thousands, and a recent Washington Post profile stated that he’s certified over 2,000 divers and taught over 5,000 others to swim. Jones holds a Ph. D. in Marine Biology from Georgetown University and is a Fulbright Scholar and National Science Foundation fellow.
Along with his ongoing scuba mentoring, Jones still actively dives and works alongside the Diving With A Purpose organization. The group has been surveying and collecting artifacts from sunken slave ships. Jones and the DWP went on a dive near Cape Town, South Africa to survey a Portuguese slave vessel.
In 1991, Jones was named a co-founder of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers.
(Photo: Cayman Islands Tourism)