Conrad Limbaugh was born in Chicago, Illinois on June
28, 1924. The family moved to Long Beach California in 1925.
Limbaugh began skin diving when he was a teenager along the
coast of Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, and Palos Verdes. The
face plate that he
used was made of a coffee can and a piece of glass. This
is when George MacGinitie of the Kerckhoff Marine Lab
introduced Limbaugh to the taxonomic classification of
In 1942 Limbaugh was called up for military service and
in 1943 was enlisted to the US Army Air Force. He
trained as a weather observer and assigned to a weather
station in the Yukon Territory. He received an Honorable
Discharge in January of 1946.
In 1947 Limbaugh received an Associates of Arts Degree
from Long Beach City College. Then in 1949 Limbaugh
received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from
Limbaugh began graduate studies in zoology at the University of
California, Los Angeles. During this time Limbaugh became aware
of technological developments that allowed swimming underwater
while breathing by means of a Self Contained Underwater
With Limbaugh's insistence Professor Boyd Walker purchased an
Aqua Lung unit. It was one of the units sold in the United
States from the Westwood, California sporting goods store.
Limbaugh along with his friend Andy Rechnitzer taught themselves
to use the Aqua Lung without any instructions or manuals. This
buddy diving approach later became an important part of the
first scuba instruction program developed by Limbaugh in the
years to come.
In 1950 Limbaugh transferred to Scripps Institution of
Oceanography under the supervision of Dr. Carl Hubbs. This is
when Limbaugh began to combine scuba diving with scientific
research more directly. Then in 1951 Limbaugh began to develop
the basic guidelines for training and other research students in
scuba diving and began instructing others.
December 29. 1953 Limbaugh was officially appointed Marine
Diving Specialist by Scripps Director Roger Revelle and became
the first diving officer at Scripps. Limbaugh had to develop and
maintain a safe training program which will ensure a minimum of
accidents. When the completion of the training course the diving
officer issued diving permits to the new divers and will write a
diving manual for the safe use of the Aqua Lung.
Limbaugh coauthored many scientific papers but became more
widely known for his articles on undersea life published in
popular magazines especially Skin Diver Magazine. In the first
ever edition of Skin Diver Magazine an article and accompanying
photos by Limbaugh on the California Sheepshead in 1951.
Limbaugh was inducted into one of the oldest skin diving clubs
in the world The Bottom Scratchers in 1953. This is a very elite
group of divers and membership is by invitation only.
Limbaugh and Rechnitzer undertook a study for the Union Oil
Company that culminated in the publication of "An Oceanographic
and Ecological Investigation of the Area Surrounding the Union
Oil Company Santa Maria Refinery Outfall, Oso Flaco, California.
In the 1950's Limbaugh also worked for the United States Navy.
This consisted of underwater surveys using scuba, participating
in various operations at sea, submitting reports, and taking
By 1959 Limbaugh had published eight papers in scientific
journals and numerous articles in popular diving publications.
In 1957 a private enterprise entity was set up by Limbaugh,
Wheeler North, Jim Stewart, Andreas Rechnitzer, Harold Scotten,
Ray Gilardi, Earl Murray and Chuck Fleming to handle consulting
work and projects outside of the auspices of Scripps. This
enterprise was called Scientific Diving Consultants (SDC).
In 1959 the SDC opened one of San Diego" earliest dive shops,
The Diving Locker, and brought in Charles Nicklin to manage the
Limbaugh was involved in the underwater films two of which
became well known in both scientific and recreational diving
circles. They were "River of Sands" and "Underwater Wonders."
These two films carry the production credits of both Scripps and
the Scientific Diving Consultants and filmed by Limbaugh,
Wheeler North, and Jim Stewart. Ron Church edited both films and
contributed footage to Underwater Wonders as did Bev Morgan.
They premiered at the International Underwater Film Festival in
Santa Monica in 1959 and 1960 and received honors awards and
In 1958 Limbaugh was invited to undertake an assessment of the
feasibility of establishing and underwater park in the US Virgin
Islands. Limbaugh's most significant contribution in biology was
his work on cleaning symbiosis.
In 1960 Limbaugh was invited by Jacques Cousteau and other
leaders of the European scientific diving community to attend
the first meeting of the Confederation Mondiale des Activities
Subaquatiques (CMAS) which was to be held in Barcelona, Spain.
Limbaugh left for Europe March 4, 1960 for the conference and
while he was there he presented a paper on cleaning symbiosis
and was voted a member of the board of directors of the new
group along with the Chairman of Marine Biology.
While he was visiting Spain and France Limbaugh took the
opportunity to dive the caves on the islands along the coast.
On March 20, 1960 Limbaugh lost his way in the labyrinth that
was the underground river at Port Miou, near Cassis 20 miles
from Marseille, France. This is were Conrad Limbaugh lost his
life. One week later his body was found by professional cave
divers about 350 feet from the entrance of the cave. He is
buried in a small cemetery overlooking the Mediterranean at
(credits from excerpts from Bio by Mary Lynn Price)