• Speakers

  • DATE: Sunday, September 4 th , 2022
    Venue: Marriot Beachside Resort, 3841 North Roosevelt Blvd, Key West
    Florida, Flagler Ballroom

  • 8:00 – 8:30 – Check in begins at Registration Table
    8:30 – 8:45  KIM FISHER - Welcome
    8:55 – 9:35  COREY MALCOM, Ph.D - History of the 1622 Fleet, Spanish Colonial Times
    9:45  – 10:25 R. DUNCAN MATHEWSON III, M.A. Ph.D., Underwater Shipwreck Archeology
    10:35- 11:15 BRIAN LAPOINTE, Ph.D - Environmental Concerns
    11:25-12:05 JAMES SINCLAIR, M.A. – Shipwreck Artifact Conservation
    BREAK FOR LUNCH FROM 12:05-1:15
    1:20-2:00  CAROL TEDESCO - Histories and Mysteries – Silver Treasure Coins of the Nuestra
    Senora de Atocha, the Santa Margarita, and the Dry Tortugas Deep Water wreck 
    2:10-2:50 CAPTAIN JOHN BRANDON – Historic Shipwreck Salvage -Evolution of Equipment,
    Technology and Mapping
    3:00-3:40 MATHEW CHARLES - Legal challenges and Changing Laws –via Zoom
    3:45-4:15 TAFFI ABT - Living the Dream


    CEO Motivation, Inc.

    1971-1977 - Captain of the salvage vessel Southwind
    1978-1981 - B.S. degree in business administration from Central Michigan University.
    1982-1984 - Florida State University School of Law
    1984-1998 - Captain of Salvage vessel Bookmaker
    1998 – Present; CEO/President of Motivation, Inc.

    Kim has lived in Florida since 1963 when his family moved to Vero Beach, FL from Redondo Beach, California.  Kim continues in the footsteps of his legendary father, Mel Fisher, in his unwavering quest for lost treasures and the constant pursuit and development of new shipwreck salvage techniques, as well as ensuring the company with his family name maintains a world class conservation laboratory so that found treasures will live on for generations.      

    Kim began diving as a youngster and became Captain of the salvage vessel Southwind, used as a recovery vessel in the early days of the recovery of the Spanish Galleon, “Nuestra Senora de Atocha.” 

    Kim has seen the evolution of underwater marine archaeology from its rudimentary beginnings in the early 1960s on the 1715 fleet shipwrecks to what it is today. His company is always on the leading edge of developing better methodology for preserving the data associated with shallow water and deep-water shipwrecks.

    Kim is an expert in the use of various electronic instruments used in the search for sunken vessels, including magnetometers, side-scan sonar, and the sub-bottom profiler. He personally oversaw the financing, building, and on-going testing of the new, state of the art Hybrid Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, named after his mother, Dolores. Kim’s historic shipwreck salvage company is currently developing similar technology utilizing a ROV which is necessary to deal with strong currents found at many of the shipwreck sites within the State of Florida.

    Kim earned his B.S. degree in business administration from Central Michigan University and attended Florida State University School of Law for two years, but the call of the sea and shipwrecks was too strong. He accepted the responsibility of running his family’s business in 1998.

    Kim currently leads the search & salvage and conservation of various shipwreck projects, including the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and Santa Margarita salvage operations.  

    Kim is passionate about preserving shipwrecks, saving them from in-situ deterioration, and returning the recovered and preserved artifacts to the chain of commerce.  Kim has been a dedicated leader in the shipwreck salvage industry for over 30 years.


    Carol Tedesco

    Carol Tedesco has worked with various shipwreck projects in the Caribbean, South and Central America, the U.S., the Pacific and Africa.  While she has worn many hats, including search and recovery diver, photographer, project planner, researcher/writer, and publicist, she is an expert in Spanish Colonial numismatics. 

    Examples of her work in this field include grading and certifying thousands of coins from the Isla del Muerto shipwreck off of Ecuador with Robcar, S.A.; advising the Republic of Mozambique, Africa, regarding a division of treasures requiring a neutral expert; consulting for Odyssey Marine Exploration regarding the coins of the "Black Swan" shipwreck; consulting for Odyssey Marine Exploration and Arqueonautas Worldwide for the coins of the 1622 Portuguese carrack Sao Jose; and curating and certifying thousands of coins recovered from Panama's 1631 shipwreck San Jose. Carol has also studied and is considered an expert on the coins of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita.

    Carol is a founding member of the International Conventions of Historians and Numismatists, launched in 2016 in Potosi, Bolivia, and serve as the organization's Vice President for the U.S. States, with presentations given at Potosi 2016, Arequipa 2018, NUMISCOL 2019, and Cartagena 2021.

    Her books specific to shipwreck recovered coins include: Treasure Coins of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha & the Santa Margarita;” A Contemporary Review of Potosi and Lima Mint Coins and Assayer History from the Mint Openings up to 1622 ; and The Deep-Sea Tortugas Shipwreck, Florida: The Silver Coins” (chapter 6 in the Oceans Odyssey 3 compendium of scientific papers on the Dry Tortugas deep-water wreck).


    James Sinclair, MA

    James Sinclair, MA, is one of our experts working on our projects. James is a world renowned marine archaeologist who has been to the Titanic, helped recover the “Mel Fisher” treasure wreck, worked around the world on historic valuable shipwrecks and has appeared in numerous real-life recovery television productions.

    James started his career in 1980 working with the famous shipwreck hunter Mel Fisher in his quest for the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, 1622 which in 1985 recovery started on cultural deposits of more than $400 million in value. Sinclair was in charge of the laboratories and developing new techniques for conservation of more than 500,000 archaeological objects.

    Sinclair assisted in archaeological recovery of the sister ship of the Atocha, the Santa Margarita, where more than $20 million of treasure was recovered. In 1982 he was lead archaeologist, on the 1715 Plate Fleet off Florida. Sinclair continues in such role including the 1622 Fleet Shipwrecks. In 1984. Sinclair took part in expeditions off the State of Vera Cruz, Mexico which work culminated in the location of the U.S.S Summers, the only US Navy vessel to ever experience a mutiny.

    James was chief archaeologist on in Indonesia on the Portuguese Shipwreck the Flor de la Mar, 1511. He worked in Guam where recoveries were made on the Nuestra Senora del Pilar, 1691. Jim has worked on projects through the whole of the Caribbean. In 2000 Sinclair became the first professional archaeologist to visit the wreck site of the RMS Titanic, in a submersible Sinclair performing the first archaeological survey of the stern artifact scatter.

    In 2009- 2011 Sinclair investigated the possible remains of a privateer vessel commissioned by Ben Franklin during the American Revolutionary war as featured on National Geographic as “Ben Franklin’s Pirate Fleet.” In conjunction with Odyssey Marine, Jason Williams productions and Discovery Channel. Sinclair Helped to investigate the remains of the Lusitania, determining if it was carrying munitions or not.

    Sinclair was project archaeologist investigating shipwrecks in the Republic of Panama, including a ship of Christopher Columbus on his 4th voyage and the site of the 1631 San Jose, which sank with over 400,000 silver coins onboard. Sinclair worked on the wreck of the SS Central America, 1857 in 8,000 feet of water, assisting Odyssey Marine retrieve remaining gold, under an agreement with the Federal Courts. Recently working with Global Marine Exploration of Tampa,FL. Sinclair helped to discover and identify what may be the first evidence in a maritime context of the French presence in the New World dating back to 1565.

    Jim Sinclair is an underwater archaeologist who has been involved in ocean exploration and shipwreck salvage for over 40 years.  He has worked across the globe on some of the world’s greatest lost treasures. He has presented talks on these adventures at over 500 venues and been the keynote speaker at many events.  He has appeared in many documentaries including some featured on  National Geographic, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel among others.  He recently was a primary cast member for the Discovery Channel Series "Coopers Treasure."

    Jim has dove on some of the greatest shipwrecks in the world and  been an archaeologist with some of the greatest and  most successful shipwreck exploration and salvage projects  of modern times.​  He worked on the fabled Nuestra Senora de Atocha, a Spanish galleon lost in 1622 and dove to the wreck of the Titanic, and so many other shipwrecks as well.



    R. Duncan Mathewson, III Ph.D.

    ​Almost fifty years ago Duncan Mathewson began his archaeological research with Mel Fisher on the Spanish galleons of the 1622 Tierra Firme fleet lost. This pioneering work on Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita has led to a number of important bench marks in the development of Marine Archaeology as a science in American waters and the formulation of a successful model for public-private sector partnerships in the location, excavation, and preservation of historic shipwrecks around the world. In 1960, Mathewson received his BA degree in Geology with a minor in Anthropology from Dartmouth College.  He then went to Britain where he studied European Prehistory in Scotland with Professor Stuart Piggott at the University of Edinburgh.  In 1962, he was accepted at the Institute of Archaeology in the University of London where he began doctoral research in Environmental Archaeology with Dr. Frederick Zeuner.

    ​Before signing on as a consultant with Treasure Salvors Inc. in 1973, Mathewson had been conducting land excavations and archaeological surveys from 1964 to 1972 on prehistoric and Iron Age sites in West Africa and 16th and 17th century Spanish and English colonial sites in Jamaica.  After living outside the United States for 13 years, Mathewson resumed his graduate school education in America with Dr. William Sears at Florida Atlantic University where he completed his MA degree in Anthropology in 1977.  His thesis focused on multiply working hypotheses and a theoretical archaeological model explaining how Atocha sank, and how it progressively disintegrated over twelve miles along the seabed. Mathewson’s archaeological MA thesis on the Atocha artifact scatter pattern provided for the first time, a clear understanding of how a wooden hull vessel breaks up in a shallow water high energy coral reef environment.  Not only did this research on the Atochasite completely change the way shallow water historic shipwrecks would be interpreted in the future, it also led to Mathewson’s “Deep Water Theory” which accurately predicted where the primary cultural deposits with all its treasure cargo would eventually be discovered by Mel Fisher’s crew eight years later on July 20, 1985. As a response to increasing demands for copies of his Atocha thesis, Mathewson formed a publishing company, Seafarers Heritage Library, to publish it with his partner, William J. Ryan in Woodstock, Vermont and Key West, Florida.  Since it was first published in 1982, the Atocha thesis has gone through different printings and is still available today from Mathewson’s 
    501©3 organization, the National Center for Shipwreck Research Ltd.

    ​Once the Atocha “Mother Lode” was located, Mathewson focused his attention throughout 1985-86 on developing archaeological procedures with divers and consulting specialists hired to assist with excavating cargo deposits and all types of artifacts along with the lower hull structure before they werelogged into the conservation laboratory developed to maintain the integrity of thousands of unique finds. In 1988, Mathewson developed a teaching program in Marine Archaeology at the Florida Keys Community College where the Atocha timbers had been placed to preserve them in the anaerobic environment of the dive training lagoon.

    ​In 1993, Mathewson turned his attention to getting his Ph.D. in Education at the Miami campus of the Union Institute & University. His dissertation focused on his Atocha theoretical model and how it could be adapted as an interdisciplinary “hook” to teach students about Maritime History andArchaeology, as well as core disciplines such as Math, Science and Language Arts in a middle school curriculum module, “If Shipwrecks Could Talk”. In 1997, Delta Education Inc. published it for distribution in their science educational series for schools throughout the United States.

    ​The publication of Mathewson’s “Treasure of the Atocha” in 1986 by Pisces Books and E.P. Dutton in association with Seafarers Heritage Library immediately sold out as did the British edition published in London by Sedgwick & Jackson.  ASpanish edition, El Tesoro del Atocha, published in Barcelona in 1988 by Plaza & Jamés, also became quickly out of print in the European market.  Over the years, a edition was continually printed by three different American publishers in five different runs to meet the public demand throughout the country.  Over the years, the Atocha book remained a best seller with close to 100,000 copies sold world-wide. Mathewson is now preparing a sequel to his Atocha book to bring the archaeological story of the 1622 galleons up-to-date in time for the 400th year commemoration in Key West of the lost treasure galleons over4-6 September 2022.

    ​In 2018, Duncan retired as a university professor to devotemore time for his on-going archaeological research on the 1622 galleons.  He lives on Little Torch Key with his wife Arlene with a rescue iguana, three cats, two tortoises, a turtle and their three grown-up kids – Rachael, Duncan (“R.D.”) and Eric who continue to call the Florida Keys their home.



    Brian E. Lapointe, Ph.D.

     Brian E. Lapointe was born in Greenfield, MA & graduated from Palm Beach High School in West Palm Beach, FL.  He obtained a BA in Biology from Boston University, a MS in Environmental Science from the University of Florida, & a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of South Florida.

    Dr. Lapointe is currently a Marine Biologist and Research Professor with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University in Ft. Pierce, FL. His research interests include biological oceanography, algal physiology & biochemistry, seagrass & coral reef ecology, marine pollution, and remote sensing.
     His research over the past four decades has focused on impacts of land-based nutrient pollution on the health of seagrass & coral reef ecosystems around the wider Caribbean region, especially South Florida. He has authored over 150 publications in the field of algal physiology, biochemistry, & marine ecology and is internationally recognized for his work. He is especially recognized as a specialist of Sargassum blooms in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Florida’s toxic algae bloom problems.
    Dr. Lapointe was the recipient of the Environmental Science Award, Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County, 2000, the Red Wright Fellowship, Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Inc., 1986, 1990, and Outstanding Research Award, Sigma Xi
     Dr. Lapointe lives part time in the Florida Keys with his wife and enjoys fishing & scuba diving.



    Mathew Charles, B.S.. J.D.

    Matthew T. Charles graduated from West Chester University, B.S. in Criminal Justice, 2002 and Widener University School of Law, J.D., 2007.  He is currently a partner in the law firm of Concannon & Charles, P.C. with offices in Idaho and New Jersey.  He is the principal attorney of the New Jersey office. The firm has a nationwide practice and regularly represents and advises clients in matters involving admiralty, exploration and scuba diving, among other areas of practice. In May 2020, in a landmark decision, a federal judge allowed the firm's client, R.M.S. Titanic, Inc., to recover the "voice of the Titanic" from inside the ship's hull.  The proposal was fiercely opposed by the U.S. Government, but the court sided with the explorers. The firm currently represents the Fisher Family in ongoing challenges with the U.S. Government, specifically, NOAA’s Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. 

    Mr. Charles is a certified scuba diver, a sports fan, musician and photographer.  He and his wife Kelly live in Ocean City, New Jersey, where they raise their rambunctious twin sons and dogs, Harlan and Coco.


    CAPTAIN John Brandon

    In 2010 Mel Fisher Center relinquished its federal and state rights, titles and claims to the above mentioned sites to 1715 Fleet-Queen’s Jewels, LLC. 1715 Fleet-Queen’s Jewels in turn entered into a contract with Mr. Brandon to continue his ongoing explorations and recoveries on the 1715 fleet wreck sites. Mr. Brandon serves as a consultant and adviser to 1715 Fleet-Queen’s Jewels.

    2010-2016-State of Florida Exploration Permit 2009.02

    Blue Water Ventures International and Mr. John Brandon as Principle Project Investigator held Florida 1A-31 Exploration Permit 2009.02 (Currently in the renewal process). Working with Blue Water Ventures archaeologist James Sinclair, Mr. Brandon and BWV successfully completed Phase One of the permit exploration, a cesium vapor magnetometer survey, as well as a very detailed first interim report, submitted to the state of Florida in January of 2011, concerning the historical background of the permit area as well as detailed data regarding the cesium magnetometer survey and all anomalies recorded, including all relevant charts. Phase Two of the explorations, the ground truthing of anomalies was successfully begun in 2011. Additionally a final report was done upon expiration of the permit and submitted to the state of Florida in January of 2012. The permit was renewed for a two year period expiring in late 2014 and is under renewal at this time.

    2017-2022-Mr. Brandon remains active on the 1715 fleet wreck sites and also serves as Operations Manager for 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels, LLC, and directs all explorations and recovery efforts on the sites as well as manages all reporting requirements to the State of Florida and the U.S. District Admiralty Court.
    1980-1983-U.S. Admiralty Arrests

    In 1980 through 1983 Mr. Brandon played a key role in Mr. Mel Fisher’s U.S. District Court Admiralty Arrests of 12 shipwrecks, including the known 1715 fleet wreck sites. Mr. Brandon worked closely with the U.S. Marshal’s Office in the arrests of  these wrecks.  

    1978-1980-Government Contracts

    In 1978 -1979 Mr. Brandon applied for and received a state contract to conduct historical shipwreck explorations in Florida waters. In 1980 Mr. Brandon applied for and received a contract from the Bahamian government to explore for and recover treasures and artifacts from Bahamian territorial waters.

    Mr. Brandon has served on all of the Division Committees since 1983 regarding the donations to the State of Florida of treasures and artifacts recovered from the 1715 fleet wreck sites, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Admiralty Court.




    Corey Malcom, Ph.D.

    Corey Malcom is a graduate of Indiana University. He got his start in the field in 1984 working on a variety of terrestrial sites with a group specializing in contract archaeology.  That experience led to a position on the excavation team working with Mel Fisher on the Nuestra Senora de Atocha.  In 1988 he became the Director of Archaeology at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society in Key West, Florida. During his tenure at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society, Corey has investigated and published on the shipwrecks of the 1622 galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the 1700 English slaver Henrietta Marie, the 16th century galleon Santa Clara (also known as the St. Johns Bahamas wreck), and the Cuban pirate-slaver Guerrero, among others.  Corey earned his Ph.D. from the University of Huddersfield.  The Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society is a 501-(c) (3) nonprofit organization, founded by Mel and Dolores Fisher in 1982, that is dedicated to the accumulating and dissemination of information, providing educational services to the public on maritime and colonial activity in the New World and preserving maritime cultural resources. 



    Taffi Fisher Abt

    Taffi is the daughter of World Famous Treasure Hunters Mel and Dolores Fisher.  She apprenticed in their curating department while attending the Florida Keys Community College on a scholarship where she studied business.   She has worked in various aspects of the Fisher family business for over 40 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for all Fisher Family enterprises.

    Taffi was the Chair of the 1715 Fleet and Atocha & Margarita Division Committees from 1985-2005.  She was director of the curating department when the Atocha mother load was found and was in charge of the curating, conservation, cataloguing, division, certification and distribution of more than 180,000 artifacts.

    From 1989-2009, she was also the Director of operations of the 1715 East Coast Shipwreck Project including management of over 150 salvage subcontractors and in charge of the conservation, cataloging and curating of the artifacts recovered from the 1715 Fleet in the Mel Fisher Center Conservation Laboratory in Sebastian Florida. Taffi initiated and helped in the transition from paper base maps to digitized computerized mapping projects for that project including the databasing of all known log sheets related to the project, whether done by the Fisher family organization or other salvagers.  

    She served as director of the Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum in Sebastian, Florida from its inception in 1991 until 2007 when her daughter Nichole Johanson took over as the Director.
    Taffi initiated the public online research database that has become freely available to all researchers at www.melfisher.com – digitizing and providing archived Atocha and Margarita data, this is a work in progress which is being constantly updated.

    Taffi is an advocate of the public shipwreck salvage community by serving on the Historic Shipwreck Salvage Policy Counsel (HSSPC). Additionally, she and her family advocate for Awareness and Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Children.  www.haveaheartformichael.org.

    Taffi remains active in the management of the Mel Fisher companies and is involved in the digital archiving of films, literature, photographs, and artifacts relating to her parents legacy, does public speaking engagements, and is working on her biography. She resides in Sebastian, Florida with her husband Michael, has four children and two grandchildren.