What were you doing before you went into fossil hunting and marine exploration?
I was a professional diver of tropical fish at 20, and I lived in a sailboat before that in San Francisco. I fell in love with marine life then.
Who or what sparked your interest in fossil hunting and marine exploration?
During one of my dive jobs at the Dominican Republic, one of the miners showed me an unpolished piece of amber with a bug inside. That triggered my interest in spiders, insects, lizards and frogs. From there, I branched out to looking for shipwrecks and dinosaurs.
How did you learn the ropes of fossil hunting? Did you encounter any difficulties along the way?
I read a lot of books and papers, did other research, and spoke with the relevant people. I didn’t have many difficulties except that diving and fossil hunting was considered “a man’s job” and I had to first prove myself. Once I passed that, everything was alright.
How did you find Sue’s fossils?
In 1990, I was a volunteer with the Black Hill Institute where they often searched for dinosaur bones. I had been looking for dinosaurs without success for 10 years. That day, everyone else left the Institute, and I went out walking along the cliff and found a hollow three vertebrae fossil bone in a ranch 30km north of a town called Faith in South Dakota. Only carnivorous dinosaurs have hollow bones, and I was pretty sure it was a T-Rex.
How would you describe your first reaction when you found Sue?
Utter disbelief. Even until today. I think the first word I muttered was an expletive.
How can you tell Sue’s age?
At the place where I found Sue, the rocks were around 65 to 68 million years old, so that would roughly be the time when Sue died.
Among all your hunting and exploration adventures, which did you enjoy the most and why?
Finding Sue, as it’s important both scientifically and publicly. My favorite dive expedition was one in San Diego, when I found a shipwreck and a 400-year-old chicken egg! Also, the sunken city of Herakleion, where I found statues of the Pharaoh and his wife.
Describe some of the experiences you have had among all your adventures, good or bad.
Diving is more dangerous than fossil hunting, while fossil hunting is relatively safe if you’re well prepared. There was once, though, when I had my truck stuck in the Chilean desert with no water. If you’re unlucky, you may fall off a cliff.