USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
By Jasper Copping
Divers are plundering the wrecks of British vessels sunk during the Second World War in an area known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic".
Merchant ships and Royal Navy vessels are among the wrecks lying off the coast of America which were sunk by German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic.
The stretch of seabed off North Carolina and Virginia contains up to 90 wrecks, most lying at relatively shallow depths, offering divers and maritime historians unique opportunities for exploration.
However, experts have warned that the wrecks are increasingly being disturbed by divers, some of whom are removing items to keep as souvenirs.
Weapons and other artefacts have been looted and divers are even said to have removed the skeleton of a German sailor from a sunken U-boat in the area.
On one British wreck, the remains of a sailor who went down with his ship have recently been exposed by the seabed's shifting sands and historians are concerned they could be targeted by souvenir hunters.
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