Torrance R. Parker is the founder of Parker Diving Service, Inc., the oldest continuously operating commercial diving company in California. From 1947 to 1985, Parker participated in all aspects of deep diving work, including commercial diving, salvage, maintenance, repair, and inspection of underwater engineered structures primarily in the Port of Los Angeles.
Parker sold the company in 1985, but continued working as a consultant and diver with Parker Diving Service until 1995. Upon retirement, he authored 20,000 Jobs under the Sea: A History of Diving and Underwater Engineering (1997). He subsequently designed and curated the “20,000 Jobs Under the Sea” exhibit for the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro; the exhibit depicts the history of both commercial and fishery diving and includes that of Southern California’s earliest divers.
Beginning in 1997, Parker (who learned his trade from Greek sponge divers in Tarpon Springs, Florida) conducted a survey of the Gulf of Mexico’s pre-World War II deep-water sponge grounds unworked since 1939. In 2013, Parker published his second book: 20,000 Divers under the Sea: A History of the Mediterranean and Western Atlantic Sponge Trades with an Account of Early Deep Diving, that chronicles sponge diving from ancient Greece to its current epicenter in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
For more on the Museum’s exhibit on Deep Diving, see our Current Exhibit here.