Ruud Stelten is a maritime archaeologist who obtained his academic degrees up to Ph.D. level at Leiden University in The Netherlands. He has directed numerous archaeological projects in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean over the past 14 years. His research focuses on shipwrecks and maritime cultural landscapes during the Age of European Expansion.
In 2017, Ruud established The Shipwreck Survey, an organization through which he conducts underwater archaeological research and teaches student field schools. The Shipwreck Survey operates at the intersection of science, exploration, and storytelling. Every year, Ruud teaches dozens of students and enthusiasts how to conduct underwater archaeology on real shipwreck sites. He currently leads active underwater archaeological research projects on St. Eustatius, Bonaire, and the Turks & Caicos Islands, while also guiding shipwreck diving trips and organizing cultural heritage management workshops in the Red Sea.
Underwater photography and videography have played a prominent role in Ruud’s career, as these are important methods to document submerged archaeological remains. One of the main aims throughout his career has been to make underwater archaeology and maritime history accessible to a wide audience by creating compelling imagery, thereby bringing the past to life and creating awareness about the fragile cultural remains that litter the ocean floors worldwide. To this end, Ruud has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific and popular journals. In addition, he has set up several museum exhibitions on underwater archaeological findings in the hopes of bringing submerged cultural heritage to peoples’ attention.
When he’s not studying the maritime past, Ruud is often found in the water photographing wildlife and expansive reefscapes all around the world.