• Joe MacInnis just received the William Beebe Award for exceptional contributions to underwater exploration from the New York City-based Explorers Club. (Photo courtesy Dr. Joe MacInnis)

His career has been one of firsts, but Joe MacInnis was honoured to be only the fourth person ever to receive the William Beebe Award for exceptional contributions to underwater exploration from the New York City-based Explorers Club at the club’s annual awards dinner on March 12.

Among the modern trailblazer’s accomplishments: leading the first team to explore the waters beneath the North Pole, leading the team that discovered, explored and filmed the wreck of the Breadalbane (the world’s northernmost known shipwreck), and being among the first to dive on the wreck of the Titanic. MacInnis joins Graham Hawkes (2004), Anatoly Sagalevitch (2008) and fellow Canadian Phil Nuytten (2012) in the ranks of those who have received the award.

MacInnis was one of two Fellows of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society to receive an award at the event. The other, Fred Roots, was awarded the club’s highest honour, the Explorers Club Medal.