1990 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: Canada

Joe MacInnis
Canada, Born 1937

Physician and undersea explorer, Joe MacInnis was the first man to dive and film in the waters below the North Pole. He also designed the world's first polar dive station, a capsule for four people built beneath the floating ice in the Arctic Ocean. 


Joe MacInnis was born in Canada and graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto in 1963. He was awarded a Link Foundation fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and, in 1964, was appointed medical director of Edwin Link’s Man-In-Sea Programme. A year later he became medical director of Ocean Systems Inc., at that time the world's biggest diving and underwater engineering company. He is currently the president of his own consulting company, Undersea Research Inc., Toronto, an information services company analyzing human performance in high-risk environments.


For 25 years, Dr MacInnis has been studying the relationship between humans and the sea. His early work was in the United States where he provided medical support for some of the deepest and longest manned dives in history. Since 1970, he has turned his attention to broader maritime issues such as pollution, energy and resources.


ln 1969, MacInnis established SUBLIMNOS, Canada’s first underwater manned-station programme. ln 1972, SUB-IGLOO, the world's first polar dive station, which he designed, was established under the ice of the Northwest Passage. ln 1974, MacInnis took the first team of diving scientists to the North Pole and, in 1975, he escorted Britain’s Prince Charles on a 30-minute dive under the ice of Resolute Bay.


MacInnis has written articles for Scientific American and National Geographic Magazine. He has also published three popular books: Underwater Images, Underwater Man and The Land that Devours Ships. ln his efforts to increase public awareness of the oceans, MacInnis has hosted a 15-part CBC television series, The New Wave.


ln 1980, he led the search team that discovered the Breadalbane, sunk in 1853 and the world's northernmost known shipwreck. The Land That Devours Ships, with an introduction by Prince Charles, explains the history of the ship and the region. The film was co-produced with the Canadian National Film Board.


ln 1972, MacInnis was appointed to the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council. He is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a member of the Canadian Council of Fitness and Health. He has received the Queen’s Anniversary Medal and, in 1976, he was accorded one of his country’s highest honours, membership of the Order of Canada.

Other 1990 Jury Members