Deborah Marx headshot photo

Deborah Marx

Science/Data Team
Maritime Archaeologist

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

I have 15 years of experience in maritime archaeology and heritage resource management with extensive knowledge in writing National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nominations. I have authored or co-authored 19 individual site nominations, one district nomination, and three Multiple Property Submissions. I have provided consulting services to the Federal government related to complying with Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as well as developing outreach and exhibit materials to interpret maritime heritage projects to academic audiences and the general public. My research interests include the terrestrial and submerged maritime cultural landscape of Sonoma and Mendocino County, California’s doghole ports, and the Redwood Coast lumber industry.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My interest in maritime archaeology started as a result of growing up in the San Francisco Bay area and being surrounding by a tremendous amount of maritime history within the region. I began SCUBA diving in high school and took my first class in underwater archaeology in college. I learned I could combine exploration of the underwater work by SCUBA diving with the study of human’s connection to the past through shipwrecks and other submerged heritage resources. I enjoy the challenges of working underwater and uncovering our past through the study and interpretation of cultural, historical, or archaeological resources.  

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My professor in college, who I took my first underwater archaeology course from, influenced me the most by encouraging me to pursue a degree in maritime history and maritime archaeology. 

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

The most fascinating element of my work is locating and studying maritime heritage sites that have been lost to history but come alive again and have their story uncovered. Putting the pieces together to identify a vessel and interpret the larger story brings the human element back to events of our past.  

What other jobs led you to your current career?

The other jobs before SEARCH that led to my current career included working with the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to assist with the inventory, assessment, and interpretation of maritime heritage resources across the program. I served as a maritime archaeologist with the Maritime Heritage Program and an exhibit and outreach coordinator with the Communications Division. This work included fieldwork, historical research, and development of outreach materials to disseminate information to colleagues and the public. I also worked with the California Department of Parks and Recreation and Indiana University assisting with the management of underwater parks.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Master of Arts in Maritime History and Maritime Archaeology - East Carolina University Program in Maritime Studies 2002

What are your hobbies?

I have been riding and showing horses all of my life and spend my free time with my horse Billy Ruffian.

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?

I am a guest scientist serving as a maritime archaeologist to support the Samoan Clipper project.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

If you would like to have a career in maritime archaeology, at minimum a master’s degree in the field is needed to learn the skills and knowledge for employment. Being a certificated SCUBA diver is not required but a valuable tool to be able to assist with a wider variety of projects. Learn as much as possible by visiting maritime museums and historic vessels, participate in field schools, and volunteer on projects. Having an internship is also important to get real-world experience and this may guide you in which area you would like to seek employment, government, non-profits, academic, or cultural resource management firms, etc. 


Deborah participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: