Gemini Marine Exploration
Darrell Miklos, Expedition Leader
Darrell Miklos was raised in a family that has had a long history of successful underwater recoveries. In 1970, seven-year-old Miklos stowed away on his father and uncle’s boat while they recovered spent booster rockets for NASA’s Apollo Program. Additionally, he and his three sisters were tasked with collecting pieces of eight along the Treasure Coast shoreline for their dad, who had met Kip Wagner (famous for discovering the locations of the wrecks of the 1715 Fleet).
Later, through his father, Miklos met Astronaut Gordon Cooper, who worked closely with Wagner’s Reale Eight Corporation and had a passion for shipwreck discovery. Miklos and Cooper developed a close personal relationship.
Johnny Bell, CEO and Director of Business Operations
Johnny Bell’s ability to start and grow businesses from inception makes him an ideal director of Gemini Marine Exploration’s business operations. He works carefully to manage the company’s business affairs and finances.
Bell is a successful business owner with years of experience in various industries. In 1991 he founded a modular cabinet supply company called Cabinet Art. In 2005, after growing to a multi-million dollar southern California cabinet supplier, it was acquired by Masco, a Fortune 500 company.
Additionally, in 2002, Johnny capitalized on the success of motorcycle culture reality television shows and opened Bad Habit Cycle Shop, which quickly expanded to 7,500-square-foot showroom with clothing and branded products. Bell innovated and rented the shop space as an event venue, attracting high profile clients such as Coachella, Marriott Hotels and Rhapsody.com before selling it 2005.
James Sinclair, Chief Archaeologist
In 1977, when a young James Sinclair was spending bitterly cold winters studying anthropology at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire, a maritime archaeology field school lured him to sunny Key West. Learning under Duncan Matthewson, an archaeologist working with Mel Fisher as he pursued the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, Sinclair warmed not only to the subject matter but also to the climate and began to make plans to spend his professional career recording and interpreting submerged artifacts and the shipwrecks they came from. After graduation in 1980, he returned to Key West and began what has been a 35-year immersion into sunken history.
Since then Sinclair has been involved in numerous shipwreck recovery projects. He has worked for numerous recovery firms and participated in many historic recovery events. He participated in the raising of the Santa Margarita, 1622, hull structure in 1981.
Jim Dwyer, Archaeologist
Jim Dwyer has over 41 years of Archaeological experience. He spent 4 years excavating and analyzing materials from Meadowcroft, Rockshelter in Pennsylvania (the oldest site in North America) and served as Archaeologist with the University of Pittsburgh, the Illinois State Museum, Arcon Archaeological Consultants, Curator of Archaeology at Safety Harbor Museum, and also served as Senior Environmental Scientist with SE Technologies Pittsburgh.
His underwater experiences include Caesarea Maritima, Atlit-Yam, Virginia Bahamas in the 1997-1999, and TCI with Jannish TCI Ltd in 2001-2004 and again in 2011. James was also the creator of the NAUI Underwater Archaeology course for NAUI International and PADI adopted it for their program as well. He also taught this course for many years to Sports and Recreational Divers in the Pittsburgh area.
Mike Perna, Survey Expert
Michael Perna grew up in the heart of Floridaʼs Treasure Coast as an avid diver and fisherman. He began his historic shipwreck recovery career in the summer of 2000, working on the Virgilona under the guidance of Demostines "Mo" Molinar.
Over the next six years Mike developed his skills recovering precious artifacts from the 1715 Fleet shipwreck sites. In 2006, the exploration company Blue Water Ventures of Key West, a contractee of Motivation, Inc., acquired the Virgilona, including Perna, and promoted him to Captain.
After a successful season on the Treasure Coast, Perna moved to Key West to begin work conducting magnetometer and side scan sonar surveys on the Santa Margarita shipwreck.
Eric Schmitt, Diver
Over the past 20 years, Eric Schmitt has discovered many important shipwreck artifacts. Many have been studied, documented, and displayed in United States museums.
Schmitt learned from his father Richard who worked for Kip Wagner, famed for locating the 1715 Plate Fleet in the early 1960s. Richard passed down his knowledge of diving and underwater exploration to Schmitt when he was 11 years old.
Schmitt has experience as a historic shipwreck location, identification, recovery, conservation, and documentation specialist. He is committed to preserving historical shipwreck artifacts, which are in a constant state of decay, from their destructive environments by working closely with marine archeologists.
Steve Smith, Master Diver
With 18 years of experience, Steve Smith has an expansive life as a diver. He has over 3,000 dives, split between warm water, cold water and in cave systems. He was presented with the Wakulla Award and the Abe Davis Award for completing 100 cave dives. He is now only a few dives away from receiving his International Cave Diving Award.
His life as a diver has taken him to 24 different countries, plus four of the Hawaiian Islands, Coastal California, Washington State, Florida, and Texas. Also, many bays, lakes and rivers throughout the United States. For formal diving education, Smith has achieved certified Instructor level for not only teaching diving through Dive Master level, but also as a certified instructor for DAN O2 provider, Emergency First Responder and Nitrox.