People or Company of Interest

Companies, Archaeologists, Curators or Treasures Hunters Involved in Underwater Salvage Projects News

  • Underwater archaeology pioneer George Bass dies at 88

    George Bass, the father of modern underwater archaeology


    By Kristin Romey - National Geographic


    Pioneering archaeologist George Bass, who played a critical role in the creation and evolution of underwater archaeology as a scientific discipline, died on March 2, 2021, in College Station, Texas.

    He was 88. At the time of his death Bass still served as an advisor to the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), the world’s leading research institute for the study of shipwrecks that he established in 1972. The institute is currently headquartered at Texas A&M University, where Bass, a distinguished professor emeritus, developed one of the first academic underwater archaeology programs.

    “The world has lost a giant in the field, and I have lost a great friend,” said underwater explorer Robert Ballard, a past INA board member, in a statement provided by the National Geographic Society.

    Bass was a graduate student studying archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960 when he was asked to investigate an ancient shipwreck discovered by Turkish sponge divers off Cape Gelidonya in southern Turkey. The 3,200-year-old Cape Gelidonya wreck, carrying a primary cargo of copper ingots, became the first shipwreck mapped and scientifically excavated in its entirety on the seafloor. At the time, it was the oldest known shipwreck in the world.

    That title was superseded by the discovery and excavation of the Uluburun shipwreck in southern Turkey in the early 1980s. With the support of the National Geographic Society, Bass’s team documented and excavated an extraordinary trove of artifacts dating to the 14th century B.C., including precious objects from across the Near East and Europe that illuminated the complexity of trade in the ancient world.


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  • Jean-Pierre Joncheray nous a quittés...

    Jean-Pierre Joncheray


    De Var Matin


    Jean-Pierre Joncheray est décédé à l’âge de 79 ans ce jeudi à Saint-Raphaël.

    C’est avec une grande tristesse que nous avons appris le décès de l'archéologue sous-marin Jean-Pierre Joncheray, survenu à l’âge de 79 ans, jeudi à Saint-Raphaël.

    Né en Algérie, l’étudiant en pharmacie à Marseille se passionne tôt pour la plongée et la recherche sous-marine. Biologiste et auteur de nombreux ouvrages, « Jean-Pierre, mon pygmalion, adorait fouiller, comprendre et transmettre », dit de lui Anne Joncheray, la directrice du musée archéologique de Saint-Raphaël.

    Ensemble, passionnés par la recherche et l’exploration d’épaves, ils ont notamment effectué des fouilles approfondies sur la Chrétienne, le sous-marin l’Alose ou le Alain en baie d’Agay.

    Le couple s’est même rendu en Islande pour étudier le Pourquoi pas ? du commandant Charcot.
     

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  • Clive Cussler: Dirk Pitt novels author dies aged 88

    Clive Cussler, the US author of the popular Dirk Pitt novels, has died at the age of 88


    From BBC News


    Clive Cussler, the US author of the popular Dirk Pitt novels, has died at the age of 88.

    He wrote 25 books in the adventure series, including Sahara and Raise the Titanic, and sold more than 100 million copies of his novels in total. Writing on Twitter, Cussler's wife said: "It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that my husband Clive passed away [on] Monday.

    "It has been a privilege to share in his life." She added: "I want to thank you, his fans and friends, for all the support. He was the kindest most gentle man I ever met. I know, his adventures will continue." The cause of his death has not been confirmed.

    Cussler's 1992 thriller Sahara was adapted for the big screen in a 2005 film starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.

    The writer, whose books have been published in more than 40 languages, was married to Barbara Knight for nearly 50 years until her death in 2003, and they had three children, Teri, Dirk, and Dayna. He later married Janet Horvath. His son Dirk, named after the character, co-wrote his final three novels.

    "Dirk will always have a soft spot in my heart because he started if off," Cussler said in an interview with Working Mother in 2013. "I hope readers see Pitt as a normal, average guy who is down to earth. He likes the Air Force, tequila, and an occasional cigar.


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  • Odyssey Marine Exploration reports nearly nothing in revenue

    Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.'s revenue shrunk to nearly nothing for the year's third quarter


    From Malena Carollo - Tampa Bay Times
     

    Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.’s revenue shrunk to nearly nothing in the year’s third quarter.

    The deep-sea exploration company reported just $11,854 in revenue, down from $2.9 million the same quarter last year. The company’s previous multi-million-dollar revenue came from a contract with Magellan Offshore Services, for which Odyssey conducted shipwreck expedition services.

    The company recorded a net loss of $2.3 million for the third quarter, amounting to 27 cents per share. In the same quarter last year, the company reported a loss of $2.1 million, or 28 cents per share.

    Just last quarter, Odyssey brought in $587,000 in revenue from marine surveys and recovery services for Magellan.

    The services stem from a 2015 agreement Odyssey entered with Magellan when it sold $21 million in assets from its shipwreck business. That sale was used to wipe out Odyssey’s $11.7 million in debt.

    "I’ve stated for the past nine months that although we intended to focus corporate capital on the mineral exploration side of the business, we do not intend to abandon our shipwreck roots," Odyssey CEO Mark Gordon said in a release at the time.

    Per the deal, Magellan owns Odyssey’s proprietary shipwreck database and rights to shipwreck projects. Odyssey was the sole provider of shipwreck search and recovery expeditions for Magellan. It also gets just over 21 percent of proceeds from any shipwreck projects.


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  • Salvage firm hopes to net gold

    Britannia Gold hopes to retrieve gold and silver from the wreckage of ships sunk during two world wars.


    From Rob Davies - The Guardian
     

    A transatlantic salvage operation will put to sea within days to recover some of the estimated £125bn worth of gold and other precious metals sunk by German U-boats while being shipped to pay for Britain’s first and second world war efforts.

    Britannia Gold, a UK firm that has spent 25 years analysing cargo lost at sea, will set sail in secret from an unannounced port to explore the first cluster of shipwrecks it hopes will yield treasure.

    If successful, the loot will be taken to a secure location, from which the company will negotiate a price with the UK government for its return.

    The company plans to explore dozens of shipwrecks stretching from the north Atlantic to the Caribbean, believing it can recover around 2,000 tonnes of bounty.

    Will Carrier, operational director of Britannia Gold, said the company had an unrivalled opportunity thanks to painstaking analysis of insurance records discovered by one of its senior researchers.

    “He came across a document written by an adviser to wartime chancellor of the exchequer Reginald McKenna, in amongst a box of last will and testaments of deceased sailors.


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  • Shipwreck hunters pursue 'Holy Grails'

    Drawing of the Tonquin under attack from tribal warriors off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 1811


    By Tom Banse - NW News Network


    Shipwrecks along the Pacific Northwest coast number in the thousands. A handful have become the long-running obsessions of a cadre of shipwreck buffs.

    Arguably, the greatest mystery among many in the region to chew on is: where is the Tonquin ?

    Scuba diver Tom Beasley of Vancouver, Canada, has been involved in the search for her since 1982. "The Tonquin is one of holy grails of undiscovered shipwrecks in the Pacific Northwest,” he said.

    “For me, the Tonquin is the top of that list." The merchant ship was owned by New York millionaire John Jacob Astor. In 1811, the Tonquin carried the fur traders who set up Fort Astoria, the first permanent American settlement on the Pacific Coast.

    The Tonquin then sailed on to Vancouver Island where the captain insulted a native chief. That set off a battle in which most of the crew was killed. A survivor retreated to the ship's powder magazine and blew everything up to avoid capture.

    Beasley said this likely happened near present-day Tofino or in a bay northwest of Port Hardy, British Columbia. "There is a lot more searching that needs to be done,” Beasley said.

    “These are dynamic bodies of water. In the Tofino area, the prime location is probably an area that has dynamic sand. If the wreck is there, it could be covered one day and uncovered two years later." "I like it because it is a fascinating period of cultures coming together and first meeting.

    And the conflict and interaction of those cultures," Beasley said. "It's a fascinating, little-known story that should be known more, mystery and adventure."

    Beasley serves on the board of the Underwater Archeological Society of British Columbia when he is not earning his living as an employment attorney.

    After decades of searching, a rusty anchor recovered from the sandy bottom near Tofino in 2003 is the most intriguing clue found so far.

    Beasley described the anchor as oddly encrusted with blue-green trade beads, which dated to the fur trading era when the Tonquin sank. But no markings conclusively link the anchor to the lost barque.


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  • Scuba diver honoured for dedicated shipwreck research

    By Davis Wells - The Herald


    Scuba diver Allen Murray has spent the best part of two decades dedicated to researching and exploring historic shipwrecks, perhaps most notably bringing to life a mystery that has puzzled researchers and defence experts for a hundred years.

    The seasoned diver, aged 60 from Plymouth, and who has been an active and leading member of a several diving clubs across the South West over the years, has now been honored for his work in archaeological wreck investigation.

    The British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), the sport's national governing body which grants a number of awards to honour amateur divers' achievements, has appointed Mr Murray as a 'Wreck Champion'.

    The award is a recognition of his efforts over two decades to explore, photograph and research historic wrecks.

    One of the most notable of such explorations, and one that required a great deal of sensitivity during the mission, was research into the protected wreck of the Royal Navy's sunken submarine HMS A7, which sank in Whitsand Bay in Cornwall in 1914, with the loss of all 11 men on board.

    The wreck site is the last resting place of the submariners who lost their lives and diving on her is prohibited without a licence from the Ministry of Defence.

    However, Mr Murray, was granted special permission to dive the protected wreck in 2014, as part of an academic research project to bring the history of the vessel to life and create a virtual tribute to the crew of HMS A7.

     

     

     

     

  • Santa Maria shipwreck Looted ?

    Barry Clifford


    From CBS Boston


    In 2014, explorer Barry Clifford claimed to have found the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria off of the coast of Haiti in the Bay of Cap-Haitien.

    But shortly after, the site was discovered by looters. Clifford said they took away anything that may have positively identified the ship. UNESCO then concluded the wreck was more likely a ship from a later era. “They never talked to us, they never asked to see our records,” said Clifford. “It’s a very serious situation.”

    But Clifford, 71, insisted to WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe that it was the famed flagship of explorer Christopher Columbus’s fleet, and that it must be preserved.

    “That ship changed the course of human history, and it’s being destroyed right now by people who are stealing things off of that wreck because UNESCO said no, that’s not it,” he said.

    Clifford discovered the only authenticated pirate shipwreck in the United States in 1984–the wreck of the Whydah, pirate captain “Black Sam” Bellamy’s ship–off the coast of Wellfleet.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Chester sub-aqua club author honoured for his work

    Chester Sub-Aqua Club member and scuba diver Chris Holden with some of his Royal Charter memorabilia


    From Chester Chronicle


    A scuba diving author who spent years exploring one of Wales’ most important shipwrecks, sunk in a storm while carrying £120 million worth of gold, has been honoured for his work.

    Chris Holden, a member of Chester Sub-Aqua Club, has been appointed as one of Britain’s first Wreck Champions by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), which is the UK governing body for snorkelling and scuba and has the Duke of Cambridge as its president.

    The accolade is in recognition of decades of dedication to the wreck of the steam clipper The Royal Charter, which sank off the beach of Porth Helaeth in Dulas Bay on the north-east coast of Anglesey, more than 150 years ago.

    Chris, 68, from Higher Kinnerton, spent years researching the history and human tragedy behind the story of the Royal Charter, which sank on October 26, 1859, with the loss of at least 459 passengers and crew.

    His book Life and Death on the Royal Charter, written with his wife Lesley, is considered a definitive work on the wreck and tragedy and he has presented many lectures on the wreck over the years.

    The Royal Charter was returning from Melbourne to Liverpool, laden with gold from the Australian gold fields, when she was smashed against rocks off Moelfre, Anglesey during a Force 12 storm.

    The wreck has been a source of huge interest for treasure hunters. Last year a gold panner from Norfolk reported he’d found what’s thought to be Britain’s biggest gold nugget from the wreck, worth £50,000, near Moelfre on Anglesey.

    But he had to hand it over as the shipwreck is Crown property. However, it’s the people who were aboard the wreck who have interested retired computer engineer Chris, who took up diving in 1971 and is a BSAC Advanced Instructor and First Class diver with Chester Sub-Aqua Club.

    He first dived on the Royal Charter in 1982 and says he was fascinated to learn more about the wreck and those that lost their lives in the tragedy.


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  • Scuba diving pioneer gets credit due

    By Yasuji Nagai - The Asahi Shimbun


    While scuba diving is enjoyed worldwide today, few enthusiasts may be aware that the origins of their hobby can be traced to a pioneering Japanese immigrant in prewar Australia.

    Yasukichi Murakami (1880-1944) is credited with single-handedly developing advanced models of diving gear that substantially expanded the scope of the activity before the introduction of scuba.

    Hailing from Wakayama Prefecture, Murakami obtained patents on valves and apparatuses for the diving gear while introducing pearl farming to Australia.

    He died after being sent to an internment camp when the war between Japan and the United States broke out. He was not forgotten, however, and in recent years, his achievement has been re-evaluated.

    Murakami was born in Tanami (present-day Kushimoto) in Wakayama Prefecture. He moved to Australia in 1897 and became a storekeeper in Broome in the northwest of the country. He also became a pillar of the Japanese immigrant community.

    In the 1910s, Murakami started pearl fishing, which was thriving back in those days, in partnership with an Australian businessman. Pearl farming was developed by Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan but had not yet been introduced to Australia, and so many of the immigrants were collecting natural pearls as divers.

    Using an old model of a diving suit developed in 1836, many divers were harmed physically from the bends, also known as decompression sickness, which is caused by the formation of gas bubbles in the blood that occur with a sudden change of pressure during diving. In 1913, 28 divers died of the bends there.

    Murakami decided to improve the swimming suit.

    After a great deal of trial and error, Murakami finally invented an advanced model of diving gear by the mid-1920s.

     

  • Tampa’s Odyssey Marine

    Mark Gordon, CEO of Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration, stands aboard one of Odyssey's exploration ships between one of its past shipwreck hunting trips.


    By Robert Trigaux - TBO


    For more than two decades, Tampa’s Odyssey Marine Exploration has reveled with a reputation as a swashbuckling, deep-ocean treasure hunting enterprise.

    Odyssey has hauled tons of gold and silver from centuries-old U.S., Spanish and British ships sunk far beneath the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters. The company has enjoyed the limelight of more front page stories over the years in the New York Times than most major U.S. corporations and far more than any other business in the Tampa Bay area.

    It has been the focus of long sagas in magazines like The New Yorker and was profiled by a National Geographic staffer in the 2005 book Lost Gold of the Republic about what was then the richest monetary and archaeological marine salvage in American history.

    In 2009 the Discovery Channel launched a reality called Treasure Quest with 12 episodes devoted to Odyssey Marine’s shipwreck adventures. “Shipwreck stuff was cool,” Odyssey Marine CEO Mark Gordon said in a sit-down interview this summer.

    “The acid test is when your teenage daughter asks you to come to school day and tell them what you do.” Lately, the coolest Dad around now looks more like the Maytag repairman sitting by a phone that does not ring. Odyssey Marine’s forlorn Tampa headquarters sits back in a too-quiet office building on West Laurel Street, its second floor space eerily lean on employees.

    Tight times in the past year forced cuts in office staff to 22 from more than 40. Nine years ago, when the company was in the thick of high-profile underseas treasure finds, Nasdaq-traded Odyssey basked in a stock price topping $80.

    This year, its sub-$4 shares briefly spiked at $9 in April after Odyssey took a draconian move of converting every 12 shares to one in order to raise its stock value. But shares have since sunk again, now trading between $2 and $4. Nasdaq has warned Odyssey its market value (shares times its stock price) is still below the $35 million minimum value required to remain as a viable Nasdaq-traded company.

    One of Odyssey’s last shipwreck finds in 2007, code named Black Swan, promised up to 500,000 gold and silver coins, a possible underwater mother lode. Except for one thing: Spain.

    The country, claiming rights to the ship and its Spanish wealth, took legal action against Odyssey, eventually landing two C-130 airplanes at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force to load nearly 17 tons of salvaged coins and return the enormous bounty to Spain. That long legal fight diminished Odyssey’s stock price and resources, forcing company leaders to concede its days of treasure hunting as an independent company were at an end.

    It all sounds bleak. And it is. Odyssey is at a crossroads. Will it slowly wither as a faded treasure hunting business, or reinvent itself as a business that can find even greater sources of wealth than shipwrecks on the ocean floor ?

    Since its start, Odyssey’s future was built on its specialized skills as a deep ocean shipwreck finder. Few treasure hunters can pursue shipwrecks deeper than 1,000 feet and Odyssey used its ROV or “remotely operated vehicle” known as “Zeus” on wrecks as deep as 15,000 feet — nearly 3 miles underwater.

    That’s what set it apart from so many shallow water treasure hunters. Gordon still ponders Odyssey’s choices.


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  • Still searching for profits, but not in shipwreck treasure

     Odyssey Marine


    By Robert Trigaux - Tampa Bay Times


    The company, long struggling for sustained profitability, has sold off or leveraged much of what it once owned.

    Now it's scraping by, contracting out its underwater expertise for a Mediterranean commercial survey project, cutting costs and watching its stock fall, despite a recent 1-for-12 reverse stock split.

    The company reports its latest quarterly revenues rose to $582,000 from a mere $115,000 in the first quarter of 2015. Odyssey squeezed out earnings of $85,000 in the quarter after suffering a $9.7 million loss a year earlier.

    The company's chief business opportunity, a deal to dredge underwater deposits of phosphate in Mexican waters, was recently derailed after Mexico expressed environmental concerns. Odyssey Marine CEO Mark Gordon insists the so-called Don Diego project is not dead but will be restructured to try to meet Mexico's concerns.

    "We have filed new documents with the Mexican authorities and we have hired additional environmental experts and other advisers to move the project forward," Gordon said. "We can assure you, that Odyssey and its partners remain committed to pursuing the Don Diego phosphate dredging project through ultimate approval."

    This is not the Odyssey Marine of old, which routinely announced new deep-sea discoveries of centuries-old ships bearing gold coins and other artifacts. But finding such wrecks and winning the salvaging rights to such cargo from different (and litigious) nations making their own claims to the wrecks has proved difficult and expensive for Odyssey.

    As losses mounted in recent years, the company shifted its strategy to more conventional underwater searches for natural deposits, while selling off much of its existing inventory of shipwreck treasure to sustain its operations.


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  • Margaret Rule and the Mary Rose

    Margaret Rule


    From Martin Childs - The Independent

    Margaret Rule was the archaeological director who led the team that raised the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship, from its resting place in the Solent in front of a worldwide television audience of more 60 million, 437 years after it sank while engaging the French Navy.

    Resolute and full of drive and determination, Rule was fundamental to the success of the project, and oversaw the world's largest maritime excavation, one which set the benchmark for future projects.

    Rule became the face of and driving force for the Mary Rose Trust in the early stages of the project. She secured the funding for the excavation and the construction of the £27m Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth's historic dockyard which houses the ship's hull and more than 19,000 recovered artefacts.

    "This is a duty to the men of the Mary Rose," Rule declared at the opening of the new museum in 2013. It is their monument." Rear-Admiral John Lippiett added, "The Mary Rose is very much her legacy to the nation."

    Born in High Wycombe in 1928, Margaret Helen Martin was the only child of Ernest, a sales manager, and his wife, Mabel. Soon after, the family moved to London, where Margaret lived through the Blitz.

    After leaving school she read chemistry at University College London, but her studies were cut short when the government introduced a scheme to free places for returning servicemen, who were considered a higher priority.

    Unperturbed, she went to night school, which soon led to her working for Beechams pharmaceutical company on a team developing toothpaste. There she met Arthur Rule, a microbiologist.


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  • Odyssey slammed In U.K. parliament

    British MP Kevan Jones in the House of Commons


    From Seeking Alpha

    Odyssey Marine Exploration, Thursday reached a new level that few penny stocks have ever managed to attain. The U.K. Parliament - House of Commons held an adjournment debate regarding the HMS Victory led by MP and Shadow Minister of Defence Kevan Jones. Given OMEX's business is heavily dependent on favorable relationships with governments, and is heavily regulated, this is important for investors to understand.

    Though the attendance on a Thursday afternoon in parliament is not particularly high, importantly, the Minister called for 3 different government departments to investigate Odyssey's potential misdeeds. To quote a more politically astute U.K. local reporter who covered the action:

    1) Allegations that the Maritime Heritage Foundation is nothing more than a front for Odyssey with no experience no money and a shared consultancy and PR operation: Charity Commission to be asked to investigate.

    2) Allegations HMS Victory gifted without a Departmental Minute even though her contents were worth much more than the limit of £300k: National Audit Office asked to investigate. Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence also asked to investigate.

    3) Allegation that former Secretary of State at the DCMS and current Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, held a meeting with Lord Lingfield where Victory was discussed in breach of the Ministerial code: The Cabinet Secretary asked to investigate.


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  • Shipwreck hunter Odyssey falls after short seller report

    Crew members from Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. work aboard the Seabed Worker


    By Jack Kaskey - Bloomberg
     

    Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX), the deep-ocean salvage company that has recovered millions of dollars of precious metals from shipwrecks, plunged the most in two years after short seller Meson Capital Partners LLC said it will run out of cash.

    Odyssey fell 25 percent to $2.14 at 3:29 p.m. in New York. The Tampa, Florida-based company earlier dropped 34 percent, the most intraday since September 2011.

    Crew members from Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. work aboard the Seabed Worker vessel during recovery operations at the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck site in the Atlantic Ocean. Source: Odyssey Marine Exploration via Bloomberg

    “The purpose of OMEX is to serve as a vehicle for OMEX insiders to live a life of glamor hunting the ocean while disappointed investors foot the bill,” Ryan J. Morris, managing partner at San Francisco-based Meson, said today in a 66-page report, referring to Odyssey by its stock symbol. Meson has a share-price target of zero.

    Odyssey has lost an average of $20 million a year for five years and is unlikely to be able to repay its debts, Morris said. Odyssey will be forced to file for bankruptcy protection in six to 12 months if it can’t raise equity, he said.

    Odyssey said it has contacted market authorities about the report and is considering legal action against Meson and Morris.

    “The text is filled with lies, false statements, and misleading allegations,” Laura Lionetti Barton, an Odyssey spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. “We believe this is a clear attempt to manipulate the market.”

    According to the report, Meson was founded in 2009 and is an activist investor that seeks to turn around “faltering” companies.


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  • Volunteer dive into shipwrecks excavations

    By Cheryl Walker - UT San Diego
     

    John Downing has always had a passion for archaeology. But instead of confining his explorations to ruins on land, he does his digging underwater — scuba diving to excavate shipwreck sites.

    Downing, 61, of Valley Center, volunteers for the Anglo-Danish Maritime Archaeological Team, an international nonprofit, based in the United Kingdom.

    Already an experienced scuba diver, joining the team was a natural fit for Downing.

    “My wife and I love to go scuba diving, but after going so many times and seeing the fish enough times, I wanted to try something new,” he said.

    “When I read about maritime archaeology, it was natural to put the two together.

    It became diving with a purpose.” Downing’s interest in archaeology began well before the “Indiana Jones” movies popularized the subject.

    In junior high school he read about exotic temples and artifacts, but he never thought about pursuing archaeology as a career.

    After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Navy with the idea of learning electronics. He was reading Archaeology Magazine when he learned about maritime archaeology volunteering.

    He immediately wrote to the director, Dr. Simon Q. Spooner, about signing up for the next class. There wasn’t going to be another session soon, but Spooner, who was impressed with Downing’s enthusiasm, offered to teach him personally.

    Spooner invited him to come to the Dominican Republic for training. “I couldn’t believe it,” Downing said. “I was getting private lessons from a person with a Ph.D. in maritime archaeology.

    It was a wonderful opportunity — one I couldn’t say no to.”


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  • Robert Ballard: There is more to learn underwater than above water

    Robert Ballard


    From Famagusta Gazette

    Robert Ballard, the man whose name is associated with the discovery of the sunken ocean liner the Titanic, is in Cyprus on a special expedition on board the US research vessel “Nautilus” to investigate “Eratosthenes” mountain, at the bottom of the sea, 60 miles off Cyprus’ western coast.

    In an interview with CNA, he talks about his career, how technology has changed the way he operates and points out that in his view his greatest discovery is the hydrothermal conduits and not the wreck of the Titanic, or that of the German battleship Bismarck, which sunk in World War II or even the discovery of the passenger liner Lusitania, sunk by a German torpedo during World War I.

    To date, Robert Ballard has conducted more than 120 undersea expeditions, pioneering the use of the latest in submarine technology to plunge ever deeper into the mysteries of the ocean.

    “There is a lot more to learn underwater than above water,” he tells CNA and referred to the new life forms created by hydrothermal conduits as a living system which nobody knew it even existed.

    On his Cyprus mission, he said he is on this expedition, accompanying his son and many other students, teachers and educators.

    He explained that they communicate with schools, museums and aquariums, broadcasting images via specialized equipment.

    “We have these consoles, control panels, many of them are on land. I have one just like this in my office and a second one in my other office on Rhode island, so in fact I don’t really need to be here,” he said.

    Replying to another question about his mission, the 70 year old oceanographer acknowledged that he does not know what the Cyprus expedition will unveil.

    He also explained that because they expect the unexpected, they gather experts in various fields, some on board the ship, others waiting to be called.

    “We call them ‘doctors on call’. We have scientists all over the world who may get a phone call when we make a discovery,” he added.

    Robert Ballard is not new to the island of Cyprus, he visited two years ago, exploring an area where there was a huge mountain, "Eratosthenes", 60 miles from the coast of Paphos.


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  • Odyssey Marine and Cameron peer out of control on HMS Victory

    Cannons from HMS victory


    By Andy Brockmam - Save Archaeology

    Ministers Jeremy Hunt and Philip Hammond are in the firing line as the Ministry of Defence admits Odyssey Marine Exploration is already preparing to cash in on HMS Victory and the remains of over 1000 British sailors without the permission of the Government.

    In a major and disturbing development in the growing HMS Victory scandal, the Ministry of Defence has been forced to admit that the flagship of American commercial salvage company Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. the Odyssey Explorer, has been actively preparing to recover artefacts from the wreck site of HMS Victory, the flagship of Admiral Sir John Balchen, lost with all hands in October 1744, even before permission has been given by Government Ministers Jeremy Hunt and Philip Hammond to permit the recovery of artefacts from the ship.

    What makes the revelation that Odyssey has jumped the gun on the Minister’s decision even more embarrassing for the Cameron Government is the fact that the un-authorised work may have been sanctioned by Sir Robert Balchin, Lord Lingfield, a close associate of Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt and former senior official in the Conservative Party who was ennobled by Prime Minister David Cameron in December 2010.

    Lord Lingfield is chair of Odyssey’s ostensible employers, the charity the Maritime Heritage Foundation which he founded in October 2010 specifically to take control of the wreck of HMS Victory.

    In January 2012 the MHF became legal owners of the wreck, although their freedom of action is supposedly strictly controlled by a “Deed of Gift” imposed by the Ministry of Defence to protect the public interest of the United Kingdom over what was formerly a sovereign naval vessel and particularly the remains of over one thousand Royal Navy personnel who died in the sinking and for whose welfare the Ministry of Defence retains responsibility.

    The news that Odyssey had pre-empted the decision of Ministers came in a letter from Deputy Command Secretary at Navy Command Portsmouth, Mr Simon Routh to Mr Robert Yorke of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee.

    The JNAPC contacted the Ministry of Defence in response to growing rumours in the archaeological community that Odyssey Explorer was on station over the Victory and could be carrying out the unauthorised recovery of material from the site.



  • Robert Sténuit: the original aquanaut

    An astronaut trains for a space mission at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary


    From The Atlantic
     

    Just after 11:00 yesterday morning, East Coast time, four divers plunged into the warm waters off Key Largo, Florida, descending over 60 feet to the ocean floor.

    Their destination: Aquarius, the world's only undersea scientific laboratory.

    The researchers -- three astronauts and an astronomy professor, two from the U.S., one from Britain, and one from Japan -- are testing concepts for a mission potentially scheduled for 2025: an expedition to an asteroid.

    The pressurized environment of the deep sea is nicely analogous to the environment that astronauts will encounter as they explore rocks hurtling through space; the ocean depths, in that sense, make for an ideal training ground for extra-atmospheric exploration.

    The current group of explorers will stay submerged for twelve days. Their trip will mark the sixteenth mission of Nasa Extreme Environment Mission Operations -- abbreviation: NEEMO.

    The participants in that mission are probably not in need of any extra exuberance as they go about their undersea adventure: As far as temporary professions go, "aquanaut" is about as exhilarating as they come.

    Still, if they find themselves wanting some additional inspiration during the twelve days they'll spend isolated from their land-locked loved ones, the Aquarians might look to Robert Sténuit -- who, among many other accomplishments, has the distinction of being the world's first aquanaut.

    Sténuit is one of those remarkable renaissance men that the mid-20th century proved so good at producing: He has been variously an explorer, a historian, a journalist, an author, an archaeologist, a business advisor, an engineer, a dolphin advocate, a treasure hunter, and a spelunker.

    In 1953, at the age of 20, Sténuit -- who was then studying politics at Brussels' Free University, preparing for a law degree -- read Harry Reiseberg's 600 Milliards Sous les Mers, a fictional account of an undersea treasure hunt.

    Sténuit, whose side passions were scuba diving and (because this cannot be said enough) spelunking, was inspired.

    He promptly dropped out of school, and the next year began searching for the Spanish treasure that might remain from the 1702 Battle of Vigo Bay.

    Unsuccessful in that attempt, he teamed up with another treasure hunter, the American John Potter, doing search and recovery for the Atlantic Salvage Company.


    Fulll story...



  • Divers discover technology gold

    Jacques Yves Cousteau


    From This Is Staffordshire


    In 1901, a group of divers excavating an ancient Roman shipwreck near the island of Antikythera, off the southern coast of Greece, found a mysterious object.

    At first they thought it was a scuba-diving Bruce Forsyth but after some probing it turned out to be a lump of calcified stone that contained within it several gearwheels welded together after years under the sea.

    The 2,000-year-old object, no bigger than a modern laptop, is now regarded as the world's oldest computer, devised to predict solar eclipses and, according to recent findings, calculate the timing of the ancient Olympics (this year's schedule will be made available in the Radio Times).

    Following the efforts of an international team of scientists, the mysteries of the Antikythera Mechanism have now been uncovered, revealing surprising details of the object that continues to mystify.

    Dated back to the early 1st century BC, technological artefacts of similar complexity and workmanship did not reappear until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks were built in Europe.

    Among those fascinated by the device was the diver Jacques Cousteau, pictured above, who visited the wreck for the last time in 1978 but found no additional remains of the mechanism, the trip proving further frustrating when he cut his wetsuit on a jagged sponge.

    "In terms of historic and scarcity value," says one expert, "I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa."

    Whether it beats a Rolf Harris is debatable.



  • Albert Falco, diver and ship captain for Jacques Cousteau, dies at 84

    Albert Falco dies at 84


    By Matt Schudel - The Washington Post

    Albert Falco, who sailed alongside Jacques-Yves Cousteau for almost 40 years as the French underwater explorer’s principal diver and as captain of Cousteau’s ship, the Calypso, died April 21 at his home in Marseille, France. He was 84.

    An entry on Mr. Falco’s French-language Facebook page said he had “a long illness” but did not specify the cause of death.

    Mr. Falco, who learned to swim almost as soon as he could walk, was known as a master diver, mariner and ecologist long before he teamed with Cousteau in 1952. They joined forces that year when Cousteau was leading an underwater excavation of two ancient shipwrecks near Mr. Falco’s native Marseille.

    “Cousteau needed me for my natural instinct,” Mr. Falco later said, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper. “There were things I knew about the sea that he did not.”

    From then on, the two Frenchmen were constant companions on oceangoing voyages that took them around the world the equivalent of 12 times.

    The angular, patrician-looking Cousteau became internationally celebrated as the public face of oceanography and marine conservation. But the stocky, unflappable Mr. Falco was the sunburned seafarer who efficiently kept Cousteau’s mission afloat.

    “In many ways, he was an equal to Cousteau,” Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said Saturday in an interview.

    “He was Cousteau’s chief diver and captain of the Calypso. He was really the cornerstone of the whole Cousteau enterprise.”


    Full story...



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  • James Cameron: 'Avatar' sequels to draw on 'master navigators'

    By Rebecca Keegan - Baltimore Sun

    James Cameron's alpha geek extracurricular hobby of deep-sea diving has always influenced his day job.

    The bioluminescent life on Pandora in “Avatar,” the story-framing voyage to the wreck in “Titanic” and the underwater traumas of “The Abyss” all emerged from how the director spends his downtime — way, way down in the ocean.

    Now Cameron’s recent record-setting solo dive to the Mariana Trench is providing further inspiration for the “Avatar” sequels, which will head to the oceans of Pandora.

    The filmmaker said the seven-year preparation for his dive–a plunge of nearly seven miles to the deepest point in the world in a torpedo-shaped, one-man submersible called the Deepsea Challenger — sparked ideas for the “Avatar” followups by exposing him to the small island nations of the Western Pacific where he staged the project.

    “The best inspiration I got for ‘Avatar’ 2 and 3 was dealing with the culture in Micronesia,” Cameron said by phone from Tokyo on Friday, where he attended the Japanese premiere of “Titanic 3D.”

    The Micronesians, a seafaring culture who navigated the Pacific for centuries without the aid of compasses or charts, already have a lot in common with the blue Na’vi residents of Pandora — they’re an indigenous, matrilineal culture, colonized by outsiders.

    And the cerulean and aquamarine tones of “Avatar” and its inhabitants seem drawn from postcards from the watery Micronesian region.


    Full story...



  • La Comex orpheline d’Henri Delauze, pionnier de la plongée profonde

    Henri Germain Delauze


    Par Jean-Luc Goudet - Futura-Sciences

     

    Le fondateur de la Comex, Henri-Germain Delauze, vient de décéder à Marseille.

    Ce pionnier a défriché la plongée profonde et en est longtemps resté un des grands spécialistes mondiaux.

    L’occasion de revenir sur la longue aventure de la conquête des profondeurs. Henri-Germain Delauze restera comme un des grands pionniers de la découverte des océans, aux côtés de Jacques Piccard ou de Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

    Cet ingénieur des Arts et Métiers, d’abord spécialisé dans les travaux publics, est aussi un bâtisseur et crée en 1961 la Comex, pour Compagnie d’expertise maritime, installée à Marseille.

    Car Henri Delauze est devenu un adepte de la plongée et un amoureux de la mer depuis ses séjours à Madagascar, pour son service militaire, et en Californie, pour ses études (où l’un de ses professeurs est Hans-Albert Einstein, fils de l’illustre physicien).

    La Comex est spécialisée dans les travaux sous-marins et prospèrera grâce aux chantiers pétroliers off-shore.

    Tout est à inventer et l’entreprise multiplie les premières, avec le perfectionnement de la plongée profonde, dans un véritable laboratoire, le Centre expérimental hyperbare.

    Le bathyscaphe Archimède prêt pour une mise à l'eau 

    De nombreux mélanges gazeux sont testés car, au-delà d’une centaine de mètres, différents composants de l’air deviennent toxiques.

    Henri G. Delauze dirigeait la Comex mais aimait surtout être à bord 

    La Comex mettra au point l’Héliox (hélium et oxygène), l’Hydrox (hydrogène et oxygène) et même l’Hydréliox (un cocktail des trois).


    Toute l'histoire...



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  • Odyssey Marine best seen on TV, not in your portfolio

    The Jaded Consumer


    The Jaded Consumer recently submitted an article at Seeking Alpha with the above title, which the editors decided to rename " The Best Way To Play Odyssey Marine And Shipwreck Exploration".

    When I started writing the article, I wasn't yet thinking about the long/short prospects of Odyssey Marine being shorted in favor of a major offshore oil and gas support services provider such as Oceaneering International or Subsea 7, which use some of the same (or better) equipment and skill sets but do so in a business model that has actually been proven to make a profit.

    I was thinking that while it's cool to watch underwater exploration televised by the Discovery Channel, it really sucks to " stand under a cold shower tearing up £50 notes

    Comments quickly arrived from those who watched OMEX – a crowd that surely has interest in Odyssey's yarn about the almost-in-hand treasure, or it wouldn't be watching OMEX news.

    The thrust of the comments was that (a) Odyssey is about to pull up one (or more) of the wrecks, and (b) it's a ton of money on that wreck (or those wrecks) and it'll push shares to $____ (number varies with enthusiasm of advocate).

    The comments thus assume that Odyssey is capable of salvaging a wreck at a net profit. Built into this assumption are a several important axioms, the doubt of which would considerably impair the the bull case:

    (1) Odyssey is capable of recovering from the sea floor valuable cargoes, substantially intact, despite their being lost for many years,

    (2) Odyssey will be able to prove some ownership interest in one or more of these valuable recoveries,

    (3) Odyssey's timeline to proving its claim will be within a commercially reasonable time frame, and won't require multiple new share issuances to keep the enterprise's lights on (and attorneys paid) while litigation drags on for years as it did with Mel Fischer, and

    (4) Odyssey's cost to recover property and defend a claim to title will not only cost so much less than the value of the recovered property, and be so quick that dilution can be ignored as a risk, but will provide so much upside that the risk of the shares going nowhere forever while OMEX burns investors' cash having fun hunting treasure around the world is really outweighed by the huge upside.

    Of these axioms, (1) is probably the safest so long as OMEX is able to raise funds in the public markets to keep trying.

    The others vary considerably by project.


    Full story...



  • The best way to play Odyssey Marine and Shipwreck Exploration

    From Seeking Alpha

     

    A few of you may recall this article, from August of 2008, explaining why "August is the time to buy Odyssey Marine Exploration". First, a few words on what's right with the article. Oddyssey Marine "arrested" some wrecks -- true enough.

    This means that some token from the vessel (or ostensibly so) was presented to a court of admiralty in connection with a claim on the vessel - a claim in rem against the vessel itself, rather than a claim against its owner.

    An "arrest" doesn't prove either that the vessels at issue are the property of OMEX, or that OMEX even has properly identified the wrecks; it simply brings the supposed wrecks within the jurisdiction of an admiralty court.

    This means that the fight over the wreck sites can begin.

    Let's think back to the famous wreck Atocha, found by Mel Fisher in 1971. Finding the Atocha at a cost of over $2 million didn't immediately enrich the Fishers.

    It simply embroiled them in a series of law suits over title to the find and to their share, if any, after taxes (try paying timely quarterly taxes on the appraised value of a trove of antiquities without destroying the market for the antiquities by dumping them).

    Among the claims raised by the government in the suit concluded in 1978 were claims that the government owned the wreck as abandoned property and as an assemblage of antiquities - claims supported by statutes the government had passed.

    The fact that the Fishers did well in the case decided in 1978 was not based on some immovable pillar of admiralty law, but (if you read the linked case) solely on the language and history of the statutes actually in effect at the time of the suit. The law has changed quite a bit since then.

    Under the 1902 treaty between the United States and Spain, the United States must afford Spanish warships not only "the same assistance and protection" as United States warships but also "the same immunities which would have been granted to its own vessels in similar cases."

    Since modern U.S. law on U.S. warships places the sovereign that launched the warship in absolute control not only of the lost warship but of everything within its debris field, and prohibits courts from determining that they have been abandoned without an express declaratin of abandonment, the happy-go-lucky conclusions offered by some wreck enthusiasts regarding the outlook for acquiring title to a lost Spanish warship full of New World treasures require some serious consideration.


    Full story...



  • One man's passion for our sunken past resurfaces

    By Peter Collins - The Standard


    Peter Ronald’s fossicking among old shipwrecks as a teenager uncovered relics from an era when sea tragedies were common.

    He and his mates started with snorkels and then made their own scuba diving gear to explore the depths off south-west Victoria and recover maritime history treasures.

    However, instead of snaring the relics for private collections or selling the metal, he wanted them saved for public interest.

    In subsequent years he lobbied for new government legislation to protect the wrecks which for years had been looted.

    Now his collection is safely stored at Warrnambool’s Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village where he was the first employee when it opened more than 30 years ago and later became manager.

    The last of his maritime wreck relics was donated to the village last year before he moved from Warrnambool to Tasmania.

    About 30 treasures from his collection will be shown in a tribute exhibition which opens next Tuesday evening.

    A highlight is a diamond ring recovered from the Schomberg wreck off Peterborough. It sat hidden inside an encrusted goblet until discovered during a cleaning process.

    When former premier Sir Rupert Hamer was told during a visit to Warrnambool it wasn’t on display for fear of a surge in looting of wrecks, his government soon afterwards introduced protective legislation.



  • Feds update historic shipwreck protections

    By Cara Bayles - Houma Today

     

    The federal government updated guidelines protecting historical sites on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, shipwrecks that date back as far as the 17th century.

    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates there are more than 2,100 historic shipwrecks in the Gulf’s federal waters. A 1966 law requires that the bureau guide oil-and-gas companies drilling in the outer continental shelf to assure archeological sites are preserved.

    Frank Cantelas, a marine archaeologist with the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, likened the ships to “time capsules.

    They’re a finite cultural resource,” he said. “Somehow, a ship tragically sank and captured that moment, and it offers a glimpse of how people were living at a particular time.

    The update, issued Thursday, adds new portions of the ocean floor that are considered likely locations for shipwrecks. Those designated blocks of ocean floor require surveys and archaeological reports prior to drilling.

    A statement released by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau says the update was prompted by “new information, recent discoveries and advances in hydrographic survey technology.

    The government periodically updates its notice, but the changes signify a gradual shift in the way the bureau protects historic underwater sites, according to Robert Church, a marine archaeologist with C&C Technologies, a Lafayette-based survey company.


     

  • Archaeologist digs diving

    By Liz Bernier - If Press


    Finding missing submarines or battleships is all in a day's work for Dr. Susan Langley.

    An underwater archaeologist, Langley has devoted her life to the study and conservation of underwater artifacts, which she usually finds in shipwrecks.

    The former Sarnian has helped excavate historic wrecks all over the world, working with UNESCO, Parks Canada, private companies, and — currently — the United States Navy.

    She's also the State Underwater Archaeologist for Maryland and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and St. Mary's College of Maryland, teaching courses like "the history of piracy."

    Much of her time is spent teaching, writing, surveying and searching for wrecks.

    "We spend a lot less time diving then you would think," she said. "When you watch Discovery Channel, you may see 10 years of work squished into that one hour."

    But for Langley, hard work has never been a problem. She's contributed to exhibits at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, holds a PhD in the subject, and is currently co-authoring a book about legal issues surrounding heritage resources.

    Langley said her parents first got her interested in archaeology.

    "My family was always interested in history and we would go to historic sites," she said.

    But it was a diver's photo on a National Geographic cover that made her consider taking her science underwater.

    "That just mesmerized me that you could find these things and bring them up," she said.

    There's strategy in selecting sites to survey.

    "We have a huge responsibility to the taxpayer," she said. "We want them to be able to come and watch while we do it, we want to do it during part of the academic year so students can come."

    Audiences aside, Langley said preserving a site is most important.

    "Archaeology is a destructive science," she said. "Once you dig a site, nobody can ever come back and re-dig it. You have to do it right the first time."
    It can be frustrating when looters or treasure hunters get their hands on a site, she said.


    Full story...



  • ‘Mission Impossible’ -- underwater !

    Author Clive Cussler (L) penned “Crescent Dawn,” the 21st installment of the Dirk Pitt thrillers, with his son, Dirk


    From Marion James - Today's Zaman


    Being surrounded on three sides by water, Turkey’s wealth of coastline means its history is intricately linked with the history of the sea.

    The Turks may have swept into Anatolia on horseback from Central Asia, but they soon discovered, as the Romans and Byzantines had done before them, that an important plank in defense of their realm had to be naval defenses.

    The Ottomans fast developed naval prowess. Shipbuilding became an art, just as horsemanship had been, and Ottoman sea captains moved into positions of supremacy. The result was that the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean became Ottoman lakes.

    There are a number of exciting finds from around the coast of Turkey housed in various museums. The Underwater Archaeological Museum at Bodrum is world famous. Not only are there hundreds of amphorae and gold coins salvaged from shipwrecks on display, but some of the ships themselves.
    The treasures range in date over the centuries and represent powers as diverse as Phoenician, Lydian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman.

    Underwater archaeology is so valued that even the massive engineering enterprise of the Marmaray Project, set to join the Asian side and European side of İstanbul by rail tunnel, came to a halt when digs for the project uncovered an ancient Byzantine harbor near the old walls of Constantinople, replete with ships.

    The findings from this harbor are housed in the İstanbul Archaeological Museum. Walking round the exhibition, visitors can imagine life in a bygone era, the age of sail, when international trade was carried out mainly by ship.

    The raised wrecks seem so serene: a silent witness to the economic life of those who inhabited these lands before us. They appear calm and lifeless.
    But, of course, their last moments afloat would have been anything but calm and serene. What passions and terrors they were witness to! What panic and horror caused their sinking !

    Maybe it was ferocious weather conditions that caused them to take on water and sink, despite desperate bailing by the crew, or even financial suicide of jettisoning a valuable cargo.


    Full story...



  • Shipwreck hunter sets a new course

    Treasure hunter


    By Katherine Fleming - The West Australian

    It was an autumn day in 1963 when Hugh Edwards sought refuge from pounding waves in an underwater cave near Ledge Point.

    As the silvery bubbles from his diving gear pooled on the roof, he picked up a dark object from the sandy floor.

    When he rubbed the black corrosion, it revealed the name of a Spanish king and the year 1654. It was a silver "piece of eight" from the Vergulde Draeck, a Dutch East India Company ship that sank 124 years before the Endeavour reached Botany Bay.

    A friend's reaction - Dead Men's Silver - gave Edwards the name of his autobiography, released today.

    It details his extraordinary life as a shipwreck hunter from his first boyhood glimpse below the ocean's "silver skin" to his part in discovering the wreck of the notorious Batavia, filming great white sharks and being waved through a Cambodian road block by Pol Pot.

    Shipwrecks, Edwards said, were found either through "outrageous good fortune" or extensive research.

    A reluctant student, he found his "spiritual home" at Perth's Daily News, where his appetite for stories on shipwrecks led him to several expeditions.

    But the Batavia, made famous by a mutiny and massacre, remained elusive. When the paper would not pay for another expedition and government funding was largely unforthcoming, Edwards paid for most of the trip.

    Full story...



  • Exploring the deep blue sea

    By Jerzy Shedlock


    Between 1910 and 1920 an average of one ship per month ran aground in the waters surrounding Alaska.

    Although unfortunate for captains and crews at the time, the wrecks would provide a playground decades later for Steve Lloyd, an Anchorage based scuba diver and shipwreck explorer.

    “I’ve always been fascinated by ghost towns, shipwrecks, abandoned factories and anything with a hidden story that’s somehow tied to the past,” Lloyd said.

    Lloyd discussed his various shipwreck searches and other Alaska scuba diving adventures to a crowd of 50 people at Tustumena Elementary School last week. His discoveries include three lost Alaska shipwrecks.

    The Alaska Steamship Company liner S.S. Farallon, which ran aground in lower Cook Inlet in January 1910, was Lloyd’s first subject during his presentation. He located the Farallon in 1998.

    The ship’s lifeboats carried 38 survivors to the shore of Iliamna Bay where they constructed tents from the Farallon’s sails. The survivors — all men — were stranded in winter with little provisions or hope of rescue.

    Unique to the shipwreck was amateur photographer and the ship’s mail clerk John E. Thwaites. He took high-quality photos of the wrecked ship and the crew’s trials of survival —for example, frostbitten men with burlap wrapped on their feet.

    Details of the shipwreck, and the mission of six men who struck out in an open boat to seek help, are fleshed out in Lloyd’s book “Farallon: Shipwreck and Survival on the Alaska Shore,” published in 2000 by Washington State University Press.

    During the presentation Lloyd showed clips of a BBC documentary of Alaska survivor stories that included the Farallon, which was filmed in 2001. He was the film’s historical and location advisor and underwater videographer.

    “For the film’s camp scenes, we used my front yard in Anchorage,” he said.



  • Trawling for treasures

    By Catherine Rhea Roy


    Discovery Science Treasure Quest takes you on board a search for shipwrecks with Greg Stemm

    The interest began with reading about Jacques Cousteau and ocean exploration. Greg Stemm, Co-founder and CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration successfully combined his passion and his profession.

    He saw an interesting opportunity to use technology that had been developed to find in and study commercial and cultural resources under water.

    The series “Treasure Quest,” gives viewers a front row seat on Odyssey's adventures. Greg talks about the series as well as all that goes into discovery and recovery of underwater treasures. Excerpts from the interview

    Can you tell us Treasure Quest?

    The ‘Discovery Science Treasure Quest' show basically gives people a front row seat to watch what happens on our ships. Over the years what people have wanted most of all is to accompany us on an expedition to see what happens when we find shipwrecks.

    On this series, the viewer gets to join the expedition as a passenger on the ship and sees everything we do from the time that we initiate a project for finding a shipwreck to the search for the shipwreck to when we put the robotics on the bottom and experience that amazing moment of discovery of a new shipwreck that no human has ever seen before.

    What obstacles do you face in your line of work ?

    There are natural obstacles that come from the complicated work in the deep ocean and man-made obstacles including bureaucracy and legal issues. As soon as you head out to sea there are all kinds of problems that prevent you from finding and keeping shipwrecks.

    What is the difference between excavations carried out by a private organisation and those carried out by the government ?

    I think that as a private company, we typically can choose to work on the projects that we are interested in.

    When it comes to exploration I think it's very important for explorers to be able to make decisions on a ship based on new knowledge that they gain as they conduct a project.

    Very often in government or even academic operations you will find a lot of bureaucratic infrastructure which complicates the mission. I think that allowing exploration activities to be run by the people on the ship as opposed to people making rules on shore allows flexibility.

    What is the research that goes into your line of work ?

    We have an in-house team of archaeologists and researchers at Odyssey of about eight people. Then we have 25 or 30 people all around the world that are specialists in searching libraries and looking at ancient manuscripts. How it usually works is we have an idea for a shipwreck project and then the researchers will go to all the different researchers they have around the world who will try to find out information about exactly where the ship was lost.

    We'll try to find log books from the ship as well as other information and reports that can help us figure out exactly where a ship has gone down.

    Often there is contradictory information so one of our tasks is sorting the information that is true from that based on gossip or sometimes intentionally published to try to mislead people.

    How long does each excavation last ?


    Full story...



  • Odyssey to request En Banc hearing in "Black Swan" case

    From Yahoo Finance


    Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., today announced that it will request an en banc hearing (a hearing before all the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges) in the "Black Swan" case and will point out that today's decision by a panel of only three judges from the Eleventh Circuit affirming the district court's dismissal of the case is contrary to other Eleventh Circuit opinions and rulings by the United States Supreme Court.

    In today's opinion, the appellate court agreed with the lower court's finding that the U.S. federal court lacked jurisdiction over property recovered by Odyssey from the Atlantic Ocean in 2007.

    The opinion concluded that the recovery was that of the sovereign immune shipwreck Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a Spanish vessel that perished in 1804, even though Spain's attorney admitted to the Eleventh Circuit panel that the majority of the coins aboard were not owned by Spain at the time of the sinking. Because no vessel was found or recovered at the site and identification was not certain, Odyssey code named the site "Black Swan."

    Odyssey argued that even if the recovered cargo had originated from the Mercedes, that vessel was primarily on a commercial voyage when it sank, and therefore should not be considered as a "warship" having immunity from the jurisdiction of the court.

    Judge Black, writing for the Eleventh Circuit, concluded that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applied in the case because, "The shipwreck of the Mercedes is thus unquestionably the property of Spain." In an apparent contradiction however, the opinion also states, "We do not hold the recovered res is ultimately Spanish property."

    Odyssey had also argued that sovereign immunity should not apply because Spain did not have possession of the recovered property, citing several cases requiring possession in similar admiralty cases, but the Court ruled that the FSIA does not require possession in order for a foreign country to claim immunity over its sunken warships.

    The appellate court also affirmed the trial court's order which directed Odyssey to return the property to Spain, but according to the district court's ruling, this order is stayed until the appeals process is complete.



  • Local diver shares mysteries of the deep

    By Zach Levine - Howell Patch


    Dan Lieb, of the New Jersey Historical Divers Association, presented a vast array of information on deep sea diving and shipwrecks to patrons of the Howell Public Library on Thursday evening.

    For most of Dan Lieb’s life, he has been fascinated with what is found under the surface of the ocean.

    During his career as a member of the New Jersey Historical Divers Association (NJHDA), Lieb has helped locate 13 shipwrecks under the waters. He shared his vast knowledge of shipwrecks with patrons of the Howell Township Public Library on Thursday evening.

    This event featured Lieb giving a slideshow presentation documenting the history of shipwrecks in the Garden State.

    He began by asking the audience what famous shipwrecks they knew of, and he got back answers including Titanic, and Lusitania. He brought up a more famous local shipwreck, the Morro Castle, saying that he thought this shipwreck which took the lives of 137 individuals was much more fascinating than that of more well known shipwrecks like the Titanic.

    “What happened with the Titanic was a mundane accident,” he said. “On the Morro Castle, you had scenes of corruption and murder, much more interesting events.”

    Lieb then went into his presentation on shipwrecks, explaining that in the 1840’s, insurance companies did not want to offer monetary supprt to ships heading to New Jersey, since a great number of ships would end up getting shipwrecked. He explained these ships would crash through a myriad of causes, including storms, mechanical failures, collisions with other ships and even explosions.

    “There have been about 7200 cases of shipwrecks off the coast of New Jersey,” he said, adding that number was just under the amount of ships that have crashed in all five of the Great Lakes combined.


    Full story...



  • Exploring the deep

    By Nick O'Dea - gfwadvertiser


    Growing up in Newfoundland, Chad Downey of Grand Falls-Windsor admitted he was not much of a sailor. The son of a mill worker, he grew up watching television documentaries and credits that for much of his interest in the marine world.

    After pursuing the Geomatics Engineering Technology program at the College of the North Atlantic, he discovered his love for marine surveying. A work term with the Coast Guard presented itself and cemented his passion for oceanic exploration.

    Geomatics includes land and marine surveying, the creation and updating of maps, among other things, and can use tools such as GPS, remote sensing and photogrammetry.

    "I had more interest in the marine surveying than I had with land surveying," Mr. Downey said. "I worked land surveying in Labrador for about a year, but I kept trying to get back out on the boats, it's harder to get a job out at sea than it is on land."

    Although his passion remained, opportunities were scarce in marine surveying.

    While Mr. Downey was laid off from a construction surveying job, he watched a program on the company Odyssey and their explorations. He decided then that he would send the company a resume.

    "I was watching TV at my buddy's house, and I was watching Odyssey's show they have on Discovery Channel, 'Treasure Quest,'" Mr. Downey said. "I figured they had techs like me working there, for the surveying process."

    He sent in a resume online and hoped that if the stars would align in the right way, he might receive a response.

    Months had passed as Mr. Downey waited for other opportunities to come to fruition.


     


     

  • An honor of “Titanic” proportions

    Filmmaker and explorer James Cameron and Marine Ecologist Enric Sala are National Geographic's newest Explorers-in-Residence, it was announced this morning


    By Andrew Howley - NatGeo


    Two outstanding explorers — filmmaker and alternative-energy proponent James Cameron and marine ecologist Enric Sala — are the National Geographic Society’s newest Explorers-in-Residence. Both were honored today at a special gathering of National Geographic’s top explorers at Society headquarters.

    Explorers-in-Residence are some of the world’s preeminent explorers and scientists and represent a broad range of science and exploration; they develop programs in their respective areas of study, carrying out field work supported by the Society.

    The group includes a geographer, three paleontologists, an archaeologist, a geneticist, conservationists and leaders in several other disciplines.

    As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Cameron will apply his distinctive storytelling skills and innovative filmmaking technologies to National Geographic Society projects and programs.

    Sala, formerly a National Geographic Fellow, will continue his leadership of Pristine Seas, an exploration, research and conservation project that aims to find, survey and help protect the last healthy and undisturbed places in the ocean.

    “We are thrilled to welcome James Cameron to National Geographic’s cadre of explorers and to elevate Enric Sala’s important work on ocean conservation,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic executive vice president for Mission Programs.

    “They perfectly round out our very diverse team of explorers.”


    Full story...





  • How did Cousteau inspire you ?

    Jacques Cousteau at the Medes Islands, Spain, in 1954 
    Photo Arxiu Catala-Roca


    By Enric Sala - National Geographic


    June 11 is the 101st anniversary of Jacques Cousteau, the Commandant, the man with the red cap who opened our eyes to the ocean like nobody did before.

    And no one after him has been able to share the passion about the ocean and all the life in it, and making us fall in love with it like he did. Cousteau was the first global environmental celebrity, as known worldwide as all-time soccer stars and movie stars.

    Thanks in great part to Jacques Cousteau, I am now a National Geographic explorer. When I was a child growing up in Spain, Cousteau was everything: my hero, role model, and inspiration.

    I couldn’t wait for Sunday evening to arrive so that I could watch a new episode of “The underwater world of Jacques Cousteau.” I dreamed about being one of the Calypso divers, exploring exotic locations and making new discoveries every day.

    While my friends had posters of soccer players on their bedroom walls, I had photos of the red-capped divers diving in remote coral reefs, or climbing an iceberg in Antarctica. My friends dreamed about driving powerful cars and motorbikes; I dreamed of having a bunk bed on the Calypso.

    That childhood dream fueled my passion for the sea for years to come. I studied biology, got a PhD in marine ecology, and then became a Professor of Oceanography and spend 10 years in academia, before joining the ranks of the National Geographic Society.

    I never met the Commandant, but now I am living my childhood dream, exploring and studying remote corners of the ocean, and inspiring leaders to save the last wild places of the ocean before they succumb under the global human footprint.


    Full story...



  • Mel Fisher days to honor legendary shipwreck salvor July 14-17

    Mel Fisher


    From Newman PR


    The late shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher is to be honored Thursday through Sunday, July 14-17, with a festival that also commemorates the 26th anniversary of his discovery of the sunken Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha.

    Fisher and his crew uncovered a $450 million cache of Atocha treasure and artifacts July 20, 1985, after a 16-year search. The galleon sank in 1622 approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West.

    Fisher’s son Kim Fisher and grandson Sean Fisher, who direct the ongoing search for still-missing Atocha artifacts and treasures, spearhead the festival each year.

    Scheduled events begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St. in Key West’s Historic Seaport. On tap are games recalling Mel Fisher’s exuberant lifestyle, a treasure-themed bikini contest and authentic treasure prizes.

    From 3-9 p.m. Friday, a street carnival celebrating Fisher is to take place in the 200 block of Key West’s Duval Street with live concert entertainment, a silent auction, rollicking games and more.

    Saturday, July 16, a Midnight Gambler Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament salutes Fisher’s adventurous spirit. The fun is set for 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. aboard Sunset Watersports’ Party Cat catamaran.


    Full story...



  • Cousteau grandson speaks as part of 'BLUE on Tour'

    By Kristen Letsinger - Oanow


    For some, swimming with sharks is the stuff of nightmares. But for Fabien Cousteau, it’s just another day at work.

    In fact, Cousteau, who is the grandson of late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, helped create what he calls a “shark submersible,” a submarine that looks like a shark to let him better study the creatures.

    “The connection we have with marine (animals) is much deeper than we think,” he said. “It’s much more than just DNA.”

    Cousteau spoke at Auburn University Saturday evening as the keynote speaker for the “BLUE on Tour” festival that was held at the university this weekend.

    After discussing the legacy of his grandfather, Cousteau shared images of the devastation caused by the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    The beaches may now look pristine, he said, but the ocean is still feeling the effects of the spill.

    In places in the Gulf of Mexico, Cousteau said there is a 12-inch layer of what he calls “fluffy stuff” sitting on top of the water. This mixture of oil and other chemicals suffocates the creatures living at the bottom of the ocean, he explained.

    Those bottom feeders and other animals also ingest the chemicals, and are then eaten themselves by bigger fish.

    “We have to keep in mind that the oil that’s at the bottom of the ocean, down in the Gulf, is going to stay with us for decades,” he said.

    Cousteau closed his presentation by giving the audience three things they can do to help sustain the Earth’s oceans:

    Stop dumping plastics and stop using single-use plastics.

    Use a seafood watch card that shows which seafood should be avoided. These cards can be downloaded at www.seafoodwatch.org.

    Use social media outlets to make others aware of the oceans’ plight.



  • Teddy Tucker: Grand old man and the sea

    Golden treasures


    From Bernews


    Author Peter Benchley – whose 1976 bestseller “The Deep” and the subsequent blockbuster movie adaptation were inspired by his friend’s maritime exploits – once said Teddy Tucker had brought Bermuda to the world and the world to Bermuda.

    Mr. Tucker, now in his 80s, has been diving on shipwrecks locally and internationally since the late 1940s. In 1957, he and Mendel L. Peterson of the Smithsonian Institution, with other staff members from the Department of Armed Forces History, developed the grid system for surveying wreck sites.

    For three years, Teddy Tucker taught marine archaeology with Mr. Peterson as a college accredited course for the University of Maryland.

    In the past Mr. Tucker has owned, supplied and successfully operated a maritime museum in Hamilton and has acted as a consultant and an advisor of methods used in studying and identifying shipwrecks.

    Mr. Tucker is a founding member of the Beebe Project in 1983. The Beebe Project is now worldwide, discovering and studying deep-sea animals using submersibles and specially designed cameras. Other founders include “National Geographic” photographer Emory Kristof , Dr. Eugenie Clark and Dr. Joseph MacInnis of Undersea Research, Canada. Mr. Tucker discovered the six-gill shark in Bermuda waters in the 1970s.

    In 1983, Mr. Tucker worked with the French and in 1987 and 1989 with the Soviets. He and his family were guests of the former Soviet Union at a Marine Symposium in 1990. In 1990 the Soviet ship RV “Akademik Mystav Keldysh” came to Bermuda at Mr. Tucker’s suggestion to test the equipment before going to the “Titanic” wreck site to make the IMAX film “Titanica.”

    In 1996, he worked with the National Geographic Society in the Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean. In 1997, he worked with the National Geographic in New Zealand. Mr. Tucker and Mr. Steve Blasco, Geological Survey of Canada, were co-scientists on the Bermuda Sea Level Project with the Canadian Navy. The Bermuda Sea Level Project is an on going project.

    Mr. Tucker has found more than one hundred shipwrecks around Bermuda including the 16th century treasure ship “San Pedro” containing the fabled gold and emerald Tucker Cross.

    “Twice in five years I dived on the wreck, more out of curiosity than thoughts of gain,” he has said about his most famous discovery — the single most valuable piece of treasure ever recovered from the sea.

    “One day in the summer of 1955, with nothing better to do, I went down for another look, within minutes I uncovered a small, five-sided piece of gold.


    Read more...






  • Dr Silvano Jung, maritime archaeologist

    Dr Silvano Jung, Darwin based maritime archaeologist


    By Kate O'Toole and Miranda Tetlow - ABC News


    Silvano has been studying the wrecks since the early 90s, completing a Masters and a PhD on the subject.

    He thinks these World War Two wrecks are just as important as the ancient rock art shelters we also boast in the Territory...

    It's a lesson in underwater archaeology on The Guestroom, as we take you diving, surveying and into the intricacies of heritage listing in Northern Territory waters.


    Listen...



  • Underwater explorer brings treasure hunt to Vail

    Barry Clifford, an underwater explorer and pirate-ship historian, will speak about his adventures Thursday in Vail


    By Melanie Wong - Vail Daily


    Barry Clifford has been searching the high seas from Africa to Cape Cod, and he's hit real treasure.

    The Massachusetts-based historian and underwater explorer discovered the wreckage of the Whydah, a pirate ship that sunk off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717, making him the discoverer of the only confirmed pirate treasure in existence. He'll be in Vail tonight talking about his pirate adventures as part of the Vail Symposium's Unlimited Adventure Series, a speaker series now in its eighth year.

    The Whydah discovery not only gave historians a never-before-seen view inside the age of 17th century pirates, but yielded real treasure — plunder from almost 50 other ships that included West African art, treasure chests of gold and silver and weapons from the time.

    The discovery will be featured in an exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science that opens March 4 called Real Pirates.

    Treasure in Madagascar .

    Clifford will also give the audience a preview of his latest discovery, seven pirate ships sunk off the coast of Madagascar.

    The discovery will be the subject of a National Geographic documentary, and Clifford plans to return to the site in May to continue excavating the sites.


    Read more...



  • Pilar Luna, Pioneer of Mexican Underwater Archeology

    Divers exploring submerged cultural heritage 
    Photo Subdirección de Arqueología Subacuatica


    From Art Daily


    As an acknowledgement to her 30-year trajectory, devoted to research and preservation of the submerged cultural heritage, archaeologist Pilar Luna Erreguerena, pioneer of Underwater Archaeology in Mexico, was awarded with the J.C. Harrington Award by the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), becoming the first Latin American researcher -and the 4th woman- to receive this prize.

    The award given every year by the American society that gathers the greatest number of academics in the subject recognizes as well the labor conducted in Mexico regarding research and safeguarding of cultural and historical goods that lay in the depths, headed since 1980 by the expert from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

    The award named after the father of American historical archaeology, J.C. Harrington, is the most important honor conceded to those who had contributed to research and preservation of the world cultural heritage.

    This is the second time that the award is presented to a researcher of the Underwater Archeology field; the first was given in 1999 to George F. Bass, Ph.D., considered the “father of underwater archaeology in the world”.

    “When I was informed in 2010 that the Society for Historical Archaeology had decided to give me the J.C. Harrington Award, I did not know what it was about and I needed a few minutes to understand the importance of this acknowledgement”, recalled the head of the INAH Sub Direction of Underwater Archaeology (INAH-SAS).

    “I consider myself a privileged being, I am convinced that there are more persons that deserve acknowledgment for their achievements and do not receive it. To be given it in life, in company of my dear ones, is truly a gift from God”, she commented.


    Read more...



  • El arqueólogo contra el naufragio de la historia

    Philippe de CastroAntonio Villarreal - ABC


    ABC entra en el Institute of Nautical Archaeology, en Texas, el centro de referencia mundial para el patrimonio naval, de la mano del arqueólogo portugués Filipe de Castro.

    Imaginen que estamos en el año 2525. En un desierto remoto yace polvorienta la nave Apolo XI en la que el hombre viajó por primera vez a la Luna.

    Unos exploradores encuentran el transbordador, despojan su interior de cualquier objeto y lo abandonan, dejando tras de sí el artefacto en el que la humanidad, por una vez, dejó de mirar sombras dentro de la cueva y se propuso dar un gran paso.

    Puede parecerles ciencia ficción, pero para Filipe Vieira de Castro, director del Laboratorio de Reconstrucción de Barcos en la Universidad de Texas A&M, es tan sólo una metáfora de lo que está ocurriendo hoy en día bajo nuestros mares y océanos.

    «Es una pena que un pecio único como el San Diego todavía no esté publicado», dice De Castro. Este galeón español, «dibujado, concebido y construido para realizar una de las rutas más largas y difíciles de este periodo, un space shuttle del siglo XVI» fue hundido cerca de Manila, Filipinas, por navíos holandeses en 1600.

    En 1991, el arqueólogo francés Frank Goddio lo encontró, extrayendo del buque cada una de los 6.000 piezas que allí se encontraban. Sólo quedó allí el barco y los huesos de trescientos marineros.

    «El pecio ha sido excavado y sabemos de los cañones, de las monedas, de las porcelanas… pero el buque, lo realmente interesante desde el punto de vista intelectual, no ha sido publicado», se lamenta De Castro.

    Originalmente un ingeniero civil en su Portugal natal, De Castro comenzó a interesarse por la arqueología náutica a principio de los noventa, colaborando de manera amateur con el Museo Nacional de Arqueología de Lisboa.

    En 1997, atormentado por el descarado saqueo que los cazadores de tesoros estaban infligiendo a los pecios portugueses, colaboró en la creación del Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Náutica e Subaquáteca.


    Mas...



  • Why Odyssey Marine is worth exploring


    From Seeking Alpha


    Its easier to pass on Odyssey Marine (OMEX) than to understand the story. In the past 12 months the company has been kicked out of an index, redefined its business model, had a material development in its dispute with Spain, and is seen the entire shareholder base turnover. Based on this introduction I'm sure I've lost half my audience, but for those remaining, OMEX is worth exploring.

    To keep it brief (it's worth reading a filing or two in order to really understand OMEX), here is a quick sum of the parts:

    Black Swan -$7.50/share

    A potential settlement following WikiLeaks could yield upwards of $1B based on the recent silver move. A settlement resulting in $500M to OMEX is worth $7.50/share based on the current share count. Any settlement value is a multiple of the company's current market cap. The silver is in the US and I doubt any is going back. Check out Treasure Quest for more.

    Assets & IP - Managerial vs. Financial Accounting - $2.00+/share

    Assigning fair value to Odyssey's assets and IP paints a drastically different picture of this company with respect to liquidation value.

    PV of 10 $50M Targets - $2.00/share

    Based on the identified high value target universe, we assign a recovery of 50% to only 10 of the 100+.

    Dorado Resources - $1.75

    This stake is worth more than half the current market cap of the company. The economics for deep sea mining work even with a 50% decline in metal prices. Based on a comparable valuation of Nautilus Minerals [NUS.TO], OMEX's interest is worth $1.75/share.


    Read more...



  • Recounting our underwater heritage

    Gibraltar underwater archaeology


    From Gibraltar Chronicle


    Dr Geraldine Finlayson has returned from Portsmouth where she had been invited to deliver a lecture at the Annual Conference of the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) held at the Portland Building, Portsmouth University.

    NAS is dedicated to advancing education in nautical archaeology at all levels; to improving techniques in excavating, conservation and reporting; and to encouraging the participation of members of the public at all stages. It is a non-government organisation formed to further interest in our underwater cultural heritage.

    It aims to preserve our archaeological heritage in the marine environment, by acting as a focus for coastal and marine archaeology. To do this they involve everyone - divers and non-divers, scientists, historians and anyone with an interest.

    Our underwater heritage is not renewable, and is at constant threat from natural and human agencies. Preserving a record of the past is vital, and it is important that this record is as accurate as possible.

    To achieve this NAS aims to improve archaeological techniques and encourage publication and research. In this context Dr Finlayson’s presentation, on what has become widely known as “the Gibraltar Method”, was particularly relevant.

    In her presentation she described the method, which had initially been developed by the Gibraltar Museum team for land sites, and its application to submerged sites. The submerged heritage method, a tool in management and conservation, is in the process of publication.

    Dr Finlayson’s paper was very well received with many enquiries regarding its application to other countries. The prestigious international conference also heard from invited speakers from the United States, Sweden, and South Africa as well as from the United Kingdom.

    The Society’s president, Phil Harding of Time Team fame, closed the conference commenting on the high standard of the lectures from the invited speakers.

    Gibraltar’s involvement with NAS over the years has placed it in a central position regarding the study and protection of submerged heritage. In 2003 the Gibraltar Museum team was awarded the first prize in the NAS’ “Adopt-a-Wreck” programme for their work on the armed trawler HMS Erin.

    The Museum team, with Dr Finlayson and Dr Darren Fa who are qualified underwater archaeological instructors, have run approved NAS courses for divers on the Rock and are discussing future projects with NAS.



  • Legacy of a legend

    Jacques-Yves Cousteau


    By Allan Koay - The Star


    This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of a pioneer who changed the world and its oceans forever.

    The legendary Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau originally planned to pursue a career in naval aviation. But a road accident dashed his hopes and he turned to the oceans instead.

    Born in 1910 in Gironde, France, Cousteau graduated from the French Naval Academy as a gunnery officer. He started his underwater experiments even while in the navy. He worked in information service and was sent on missions to various countries in the late 1930s.

    A few years after his marriage to Simone Melchior, World War II broke out and the couple and their two sons, Jean-Michel and Philippe, moved to Megeve where Cousteau met mountaineer Marcel Ichac.

    Sharing a love for exploring the unknown, Cousteau and Ichac made the first French underwater film, 18 Metres Deep, shot by free-diving into the sea.

    The film won a prize at the Congress Of Documentary Film in 1943. Also in that year, Cousteau, then 33, used a prototype of the aqualung which he had developed with French-Canadian engineer and inventor Emile Gagnan.

    After undertaking various expeditions and an archaeological dive to a wreck in Tunisia, Cousteau left the navy in 1949. The next year he founded the French Oceanographic Campaigns, and leased the now-famous Calypso, retrofitting it with a laboratory.

    Among the things he pioneered during his long career, Cousteau – along with Jean Molland – created the diving saucer, a mini-submersible that carries a crew of two and can go as deep as 350m. In the 1960s, another smaller, one-man version called the Sea Flea was created that could dive to a depth of 500m.

    And while astronauts experimented with living in space stations, Cousteau had the vision of “oceanauts” living underwater for long periods. The Conshelf was created as a kind of “underwater village”. By 1965, the Conshelf III was born which could house up to six oceanauts for up to three weeks.

    Cousteau also envisioned a propulsion system that partly uses clean renewable energy such as the wind, and the Turbosail was born. He also correctly predicted the sonar-like capabilities of dolphins when he noticed the movements of a group of porpoises that followed his research vessel.

    Throughout his career, Cousteau made over 120 TV documentaries and wrote over 50 books. In 1956, his film, The Silent World, co-produced with a young Louis Malle, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.


    Read more...


     

  • Fifty years of shipwreck excavation opens new windows on history

    By Fabio Esteban Amador - Natgeo Newswatch


    2010 marks the 50th anniversary of George Bass's first-ever submarine mapping and excavation of a complete shipwreck and the dawn of modern underwater archaeology.

    Transoceanic explorers throughout time have traveled in relatively fragile vessels, often carrying their personal belongings, items that reflect who they are and where they are from.

    Their ships transported resources, tools, knowledge and technologies. They traveled near and far, reaching across the blue horizon, discovering new lands, claiming natural wonders and even civilizations.

    Our ancestors viewed the oceans as the means to reach the unknown and all its fortunes, but the oceans were not always easily traveled and from time to time they unleashed their temper on the vessels and maritime peoples who suffered its plunder.

    So, if our planet is mostly covered by the oceans then the oceans may hold thousands of sites, artifacts, ships, and histories of peoples and civilizations that had a unique interaction and relation to the sea.

    This potential archaeology was inaccessible for a long time and beyond anyone's imagination. However, it was just a matter of time before a unique and inspiring individual came along and began the age of underwater archaeology.

    George Bass, a University of Pennsylvania archaeology graduate student, was asked in 1960 if he would be interested in studying a Late Bronze Age shipwreck off the coast of Turkey. "I had never dived except once in a YMCA swimming pool before leaving for Turkey in 1960," George explains. His desire to explore and document the ocean's floor became the foundation for what now is the field of underwater and maritime archaeology.

    Dating to over 3,000 years old, the first shipwreck studied by George Bass was at the time the oldest ship ever found. His research at Cape Gelidonya would be like none that came before - it would literally change our notions of archaeology and the ocean forever.


    Read more...



  • Dive right into Gallipoli history

    Mark Spencer


    By Matthew Deans - Coffs Coast Advocate


    Photographer and diver Mark Spencer will give a presentation tonight on a recent expedition to Gallipoli that documented the underwater battlefield at Anzac Cove.

    Dr Spencer's work with Australia's leading maritime archaeology team helped uncover a number of new shipwrecks, including a hospital ship on the sea bed.

    In a remarkable family tie, his great uncle Victor Markey served as a stretcher bearer during the World War I campaign and quite possibly could have carried wounded to that very ship, 95 years ago.

    “It was an amazing feeling to stand exactly where he stood on the shoreline and view the landscape in such a different context, then to dive beneath Gallipoli and see evidence of the underwater battlefield,” Dr Spencer said.

    The Coffs Harbour-based underwater photographer is an expert in the Turkish theatre of war.

    He was part of an expedition to the Sea of Marmara in 1998, which rediscovered the Australian Navy submarine, the AE2, scuttled in the Dardanelles Strait after the crew surrendered to the Turks.


    Read more...



  • Crock pot of gold

    Chinese porcelains

    By Marilyn Ong -  The Star


    Sunken treasures ! The very words conjure up dazzling visions of romance and adventure on the high seas. Professor Augustine Vinh speaks on the perils of collecting sunken treasures.

    Internationally acclaimed sunken treasure hunter and collector Professor Augustine Vinh does not at all comply with one’s image of a treasure hunter — deeply-tanned and with rock solid physique.

    “I don’t dive nor scour the sea beds, picking up centuries-old porcelain and pottery,” smiles the scholarly-looking Vietnamese-American, who lectures on business management at National University of Vietnam. “I am more of an advisor and, occasionally, I provide funding for expeditions. At 60, I really should not be deep-sea diving!”

    Born in Haton outside Hanoi, Prof Vinh got his first degree in foreign affairs and went on to do his MBA at Georgetown University in Washington DC. His interest was piqued in 1976 when he was doing his Masters in Foreign Service in Philadelphia.

    “I went to a flea market looking for a Chinese porcelain flower vase. I was a student and could not afford the one I liked, which cost US$10. So I pointed to an old, dirty vase which I could clean and make good as new. To my horror, it was more expensive at US$50!

    “I was so naive I assumed all old stuff had less value than new ones. The new vase was so pretty and shiny but the dirty one cost more! I was shocked but learned my first lesson — antiques had value!”

    The fascinated young man stood enthralled and decided there and then to invest in antiques and make money.

    “But I was still naive and thought it would be easy to buy and sell such antiques,” he says.

    And so began a love affair that continues unabated to this day. “I worked hard and spent all my salary on antiques, buying Chinese vases, bowls and plates in America. I was more interested in quantity and built a nice collection which was my pride and joy.”


    Read more...



  • Sunken ships and the stories they tell

    By Shelley Fralic - Vancouver Sun


    When we first tracked down James Delgado, a few weeks back, he was in Pompeii, Italy, on a working vacation with his wife Ann, exploring the ashy ruins of the fabled Roman Empire city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

    Before Pompeii, he was undersea, on the bottom of the ocean off Spain, poring over the wreckage of a seventh-century Phoenician ship.

    This week he's been home for a little R&R in Steveston, but Saturday he's off again, heading for St. John's, N.L., and a return trip to that most famous shipwreck of all: the Titanic.

    If that is but a taste of a month in the life of a modern-day explorer, it's almost impossible to absorb the breadth of what James Delgado has done, is doing and will do as one of the planet's most renowned maritime archeologists.

    At 52, he is the kind of man for whom rust never sleeps, an explorer, diver, historian, lecturer, television host, sea hunter, author (he has written or edited more than 30 books) and, if you ever had the pleasure, quietly impassioned storyteller.

    There are many stories to tell. The Delgado CV is a blur of accomplishment. Born in San Jose, he attended universities in Southern California, worked with the U.S. National Park Service as a park historian in places like Alcatraz and became hooked on shipwrecks when he stumbled upon the excavation, in downtown San Francisco, of a buried shipwreck from the gold rush. 

    The underwater archeology bug hit hard. By 23, Delgado had knowledge and experience and diving certification, and today estimates he's explored more than 100 sunken ships in oceans all over the globe, from the Mediterranean to Australia, from the Bikini Atoll to the Arctic, from the Baltic to Juno Beach.

    There was the USS Arizona, the USS Utah, the Japanese battleship Nagato, the USS Saratoga, the USS Monitor and, in the Sea of Japan, Kublai Khan's lost fleet. Brigs, destroyers, aircraft carriers, battleships, polar explorers, submarines -- the Delgado dive list is not only historically significant, but fantastically exotic, an underwater narrative of maritime history.

    In 1991, Delgado moved to Canada, settling into the job as executive director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, raising its profile through initiatives like the re-enactment of the Northwest Passage voyage aboard the St. Roch II, and rescuing and restoring the Ben Franklin, an oceanographic research vessel.

    Along the way, he earned a PhD in archeology at SFU, became a Canadian citizen and was a cult hit on the cable television show, The Sea Hunters, co-hosting with fellow shipwreck hound, author Clive Cussler.


    More to read...



  • Marine archaeologist who found pirate ship to lecture in Norwich

    By Claire Bessette - The Day


    New England's real pirate history is coming to Otis Library on Sept. 11.

    The pirate ship Whydah sank in a storm April 26, 1717, off the coast of Wellfleet on Cape Cod. In 1984, marine archaeologist Barry Clifford discovered the wreck and its wealth of gold, pirate artifacts and the namesake ship's bell.

    Clifford opened a museum in Provincetown to display the artifacts and a laboratory to remove centuries of encrusted barnacles and sand from the items.

    Now, the Whydah is going on a national tour, "Real Pirates," sponsored by National Geographic Society.

    While Norwich is not a destination on the national tour, local officials have landed a piece of the action.

    At the end of August, when Otis Library reopens after a furlough, selected items from the Whydah will be placed on display in the library lobby cases. On Sept. 11, Clifford will appear at the library for a fundraiser reception and lecture on the Whydah discovery and other shipwrecks he is now exploring, including searching for Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria, off the coast of Haiti.

    "This is an exciting program, and given the long and illustrious maritime history of southeastern Connecticut, it seems like an excellent match," Otis Library Executive Director Robert Farwell said.

    Clifford's lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. at Otis. Admission is $25 per person. A wine and hors d'oeuvres reception for $55 per person will be begin at 6 p.m. at the library. For information and reservations, call Otis Library at (860) 889-2365, extension 124.

    Farwell said while the topic of pirates might be enticing to youths, the lecture program is geared for adults.

    Clifford is also working on a major expedition to Ile Ste. Marie off the coast of Madagascar for a Discovery Channel "Quest" initiative. Five shipwreck sites were discovered; including the Adventure Galley (flagship of the pirate William Kidd) and the Fiery Dragon, commanded by the pirate William "Billy One-Hand" Condon.



  • Murder of the treasure hunter Bo Kjaer-Olsen in the republic of Panama

    The Docks in Pedregal, Republic of Panama


    By Don Winner - Panama Guide.com


    On Tuesday, 29 June 2010, 61 year old Bo Kjaer-Olsen, who held citizenship from both the United States and Denmark, was shot and killed on his 70 foot sailboat the "Altares" while at anchor near Bajo Pipon in the Republic of Panama.

    The bullet hit an artery in his leg and he bled to death. In the attack Bo's son Zacharias Kjaer-Olsen was also shot. Zach remains hospitalized in David and has undergone surgery to repair the damage done however a bullet remains lodged near his spine and he might require further surgery.

    Zach's 27 year old wife Sujey Rodríguez from Chiriqui was also attacked and severely beaten in the face. When the news first broke of this incident I spoke to some people from the boating community near Pedregal. Not too long ago Bo decided to move his boat further away from Pedregal and he was anchored in front of Bajo Pipon.

    The Platanal and Chiriqui rivers merge just below Pedregal, and Bajo Pipon is just outside of the mouth of the river. The point being - he was anchored about 7.7 miles downstream from the docks in Pedregal - further away from assistance as well as any kind of police protection. Bo Kjaer-Olsen was a famous salvage diver and treasure hunter who probably had about $200,000 dollars worth of 17th Century Spanish gold on his boat, enough to lure the five men who attacked his family and killed him.

    Bo's passion was for scuba diving and searching for and recovering sunken treasure - really. Once I got the correct spelling of his last name it was easy to find more information about him on the Internet. For example, this article entitled "The Skeleton Holds Billions !"

    In Bo Kjaer-Olsen's estimation, there are over 2000 sunken ships, from the 15th century to the early 1800's, which wrecked from the Skeleton Coast down to Cape Town, South Africa. All are laden with, specie (monies).

    Olsen says that this is one of the main graveyards for treasure ships in the world as they were forced to round the Cape in the days when there was no Suez Canal.

    He estimates that salvageable treasure is in the billions of dollars. And who is Bo Kjaer-Olsen ? A credible man with an incredible background. 

    Olsen was born in Denmark fifty years ago June 1. He immigrated with his parents to South Africa in 1952, was raised and schooled in Cape Town where he lived for twenty-seven years. During his boarding school days, two fathers of his schoolmates were game wardens, so he began spending the three months of summer vacation with them.

    Olsen went in the wardens' Jeeps, helping with anti-poaching enforcement and with ministering to sick and wounded animals (e.g. lions with abscessing teeth and elephants with festering wounds from hunters). His early adventures were mainly in the 400 by 300 miles of the Kruger National Park and the Okavango Swamps on the northern - border of Nambia (the source of the Kunini River).

    Bo Kjaer-Olsen also became well known as a salvage diver and leader of salvage and exploration expeditions. Included in these were rock climbing and caving (going into deep caves for up to seven days); the caving expeditions were motivated by old stories of hidden treasure and by needed mapping of many unlogged caverns.


    More to read...

    Look at "The Skeleton Holds Billions !"



  • Zheng He's Tomb Found in Nanjing

    Tomb of the famousZheng He - Photo: Yangtse Evening News


    From Cri English


    A recently excavated tomb in Nanjing has been confirmed to be the grave of Zheng He, a eunuch from the early Ming Dynasty who led historic voyages to Southeast Asia and eastern Africa. The tomb was discovered accidentally on June 18th by workers at a construction site near Zutang Mountain that also holds the tombs of many other Ming Dynasty eunuchs, the Yangtse Evening News reported.

    The tomb was 8.5 meters long and 4 meters wide and was built with blue bricks, which archaeologists said were only used in structures belonging to dignitaries during the time of Zheng He.

    But experts believed his remains were not placed in the tomb because of the long distance between Nanjing and India, where he died during a visit in 1433.

    Born in 1371, Zheng He was an excellent navigator and diplomat in the Ming Dynasty. He led the royal fleet to southwest Asia and east Africa on seven occasions from 1405 to 1433, nearly a century before Christopher Columbus discovered the American continent in 1492.



  • Amelia Earhart may have survived months as castaway

    Amelia Earhart - Credit FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


    By Rossella Lorenzi - Discovey News


    Amelia Earhart, the legendary pilot who disappeared 73 years ago while flying over the Pacific Ocean in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator, may have survived several weeks, or even months as a castaway on a remote South Pacific island, according to preliminary results of a two-week expedition on the tiny coral atoll believed to be her final resting place.

    "There is evidence on the island suggesting that a castaway was there for weeks and possibly months," Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), told Discovery News.

    Gillespie has just returned from an expedition on Nikumaroro, the uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati where Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan are believed to have landed when running out of fuel.

    "We noticed that the forest can be an excellent source of water for a castaway in an island where there is no fresh water. After heavy rain, you can easily collect water from the bowl-shaped hollows in the buka trees.

    We also found a campsite and nine fire features containing thousands of fish, turtle and bird bones. This might suggest that many meals took place there," Gillespie said.

    TIGHAR's expedition to Nikumaroro was the tenth since 1989. During the previous campaigns, the team uncovered a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence.

    "On this expedition we have recovered nearly 100 objects," Gillespie said. Among the items, 10 are being tested by a Canadian lab for DNA.

    "We are talking about 'touch DNA,' genetic material that can be retrieved from objects that have been touched," he explained.

    The best candidate for contact DNA appears to be a small glass jar that was found broken in five pieces, most likely a cosmetic jar.

    Other candidates for DNA extraction include two buttons, parts of a pocket knife that was beaten apart to detach the blades for some reason, a cloth that appears to have been shaped as a bow, and cosmetic fragments of rouge from a woman's compact.

    The excavation took place on the island's remote southeast end, in an area called the Seven Site, where the campsite and fire features were found.


    Read more...



  • Jacques Cousteau centennial: 'We must go and see'

    Jacques-Yves Cousteau


    By Cathy Hunter, Renee Braden and Krista Mantsch - Natgeo News Watch


    "Il faut aller voir." ("We must go and see.") - Jacques Cousteau

    Jacques-Yves Cousteau began his lifelong odyssey with the sea seeking a little adventure; by the end, he had inspired people around the globe to look more closely at the oceans that make up most of our planet.

    For 15 years, it was an odyssey that Cousteau and National Geographic undertook together.

    He came to us in 1950, a 42-year-old French naval officer and co-inventor of the Aqua-Lung who also claimed to be an underwater filmmaker.

    We hesitated. Yet there was something about this Frenchman, so impossibly slim, with that smile so huge, those eyes so large and mesmerizing. So in 1952 we embarked together on what might have seemed an uncertain adventure. Yet he never doubted the outcome.

    "Personally," Cousteau declared, "I have the greatest confidence that our work, helped by your Society, will be particularly fruitful."

    National Geographic magazine articles showcased Cousteau's underwater photography, and in 1955 we funded the now-legendary voyage Calypso made to the gorgeous, unspoiled reefs of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

    The film he made there and released in 1956 as "The Silent World" is arguably the most influential underwater documentary ever made, winner of both an Academy Award and the Prix d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

    By 1960 Cousteau was a household name in the United States in an era as excited about exploring the sea as it was about venturing toward the stars.

    Over the years, the Society's Committee for Research and Exploration sponsored and supported many of Cousteau's advanced underwater projects, from construction of the famous diving saucer to establishment of one of the world's first undersea habitats.

    With Cousteau, the exceptional became the norm.

    There was the singular luncheon, for example, served at Society headquarters on 2,000-year-old plates, plucked from a stock of unbroken crockery the captain had recovered from an ancient Roman shipwreck.



  • Keith Jessop: salvage diver

    HMS Edimburgh


    From Times Online
     

    On May 2, 1942, after three days of attacks by German submarines, destroyers and aircraft in the Barents Sea, the mortally wounded cruiser HMS Edinburgh was given her coup de grâce by a torpedo fired from one of her escorting destroyers, and slid from sight beneath the waves.

    About 840 of her crew of nearly 900 who had not been killed in the attacks on her had been safely transferred to other British warships of the convoy escort.

    The sailors had been saved, but a cargo of bullion, 4½ long tons (4,572kg) of gold bars, carried in the cruiser’s bomb room, went to the bottom with her.

    The 465 gold ingots were part of Stalin’s payment to Britain for the supplies and military aid that the Allies were shipping to the Soviet Union along the perilous Murmansk convoy route.

    In the years following the end of the war they were to become the focus of an intensive effort to recover them by successive British governments.

    Finally, in the early 1980s, after several abortive efforts to retrieve the gold, the self-made diver Keith Jessop achieved the remarkable feat that had eluded a number of long-established, well-financed salvage companies.

    It was the culmination of a government effort that had been a stop-start affair since 1954 when a contract had been awarded to the UK-based company Risdon Beazley, but work had been aborted by strained relations between the British and Soviet governments.

    The designation of the Edinburgh site as a war grave in 1957 only complicated matters, putting a further stop to intrusive exploration of the wreck.

    But in the late 1970s, with a Labour Government increasingly anxious to recover the gold to swell the Exchequer’s coffers, efforts were renewed, and a number of companies made bids for the contract.

    In 1981 Jessop Marine, which under its founder had developed complex cutting machinery and the saturation diving techniques that enabled divers to avoid the deadly effects of the “bends”, permitting them to work at depth for long periods, won the argument about sensitivity to a war grave site against other companies which favoured explosives-led methods of entering the wreck.

    In April 1981 Jessop’s survey ship Dammtor had located the cruiser’s final resting place at a depth of 800ft (245m) in a position approximately 72.35N, 35.00E.

    Its detailed filming of the wreck enabled Jessop to plan his operation with military precision. By August 30 that year the dive-support vessel Stephaniturm was at the wreck site and salvage operations began in earnest.

    In spite of injury to several of the Jessop marine divers, on September 15 one of them penetrated the armoured room and recovered the first bar of gold. Over the next three weeks, until bad weather forced the suspension of diving on October 7, 431 of the 465 ingots were been recovered, worth an estimated £45 million.

    It was a triumph for Jessop, an entirely self-made man who had been born into poverty and had no background in either diving or marine salvage. He had been born at Keighley, West Yorkshire, in 1933, the son of a textile mill worker.

    Leaving school without any qualifications, he followed his father into the mill, married a local girl, had three children and looked to be set for the life of drudgery that that been the lot of his own parents.

    Lent some scuba diving equipment by a friend for recreation at weekends, he began to see the possibilities of making a modest living and began to salvage scrap metal, brass and copper fittings from wrecks in shallow water off the west coast of Scotland.

    As time went by he acquired an ex-Fleetwood trawler and began to systematise his operation, working on larger wrecks and retrieving more saleable items.


    See "The Golden Cruiser"



  • My secret museum !

    Thimbles from the General Abbatuccci 

    Treasure of the Pollux


    By Julie Weiss - Boston, Massachusetts


    To end the day, with excitement, intrigue and beauty, please check out Pascal's real life of underwater treasure discoveries.

    It is my secret museum, and history book that I sneak in to every night and think for hours upon hours about everything from what was being sewn with all the brass thimbles. Was it, Flags, Clothing, Sails ? 

    Who did the jewel's belong to ?

    Where they to be worn or being set to be sold ? What food and drink was placed on the beautiful gold leaf plates ?

    Followed  by a zillion other questions having to do with everything from politics, piracy, lift bags, equipment, cataloging, research, and archeology, and on, and on, and on...

    It is no joke that this keeps me up until the light of dawn.

    It's the secret place my mind and imagination visit so often, and the beauty of all the treasures Pascal and his team have been able to discover. To begin to think of finding a wreck with sunken treasure and every detail that happens all the way until it is placed in a museum or sold at auction is fascinating to me. 

    Very different than the items many of my friends have brought up from all  the wrecks lying in the North East. For me, it has nothing to do with diving. The Ocean holds so very many secrets and mysteries. To have the talent, skill and knowledge to actually and tangibly uncover these secretes, completely blows my mind. 

    It is not just about the "treasures" found. For me, the fascination is about, when all is collected, researched and a theory has been either proved to be true or false is the biggest hook. The story that is told, when all the pieces of the puzzle are put together, is the book I want to read.

    How does one find a needle in a haystack, which so many others know is out there somewhere and have been searching for as well ?  I better stop, as my mind is already starting to wander off... Maybe some night, I will see you in this museum. which seems like it comes out of my own fantasy or creativity, but is in fact all very real.
     
    Blessings Pascal ! For me, the real treasure is the history and stories of these ships and all those who lost their lives at sea. For me these “treasures” are about their artistic beauty and historical significance. Everything from the rare coins and jewelry and the handmade artistic art, as well as the old bottles left half full and stories that were shared while passing it, forever untold... 

    It is man and trade that puts a value on things that I believe to be priceless. Even something as simple as a brass thimble.



  • Rapture of the deep

     From Beta Lep 


    From searching for mines planted on Allied boats during World War II to spying on Russian warships, Sydney Knowles had a colourful life at sea.

    Jenny Simpson speaks to the Prestonian about his new memoir, A Diver in the Dark.

    Sydney Knowles braced himself as he plunged into the choppy waters and made his descent into their pitch-black depths.

    Kitted out with nothing but swimming trunks, lead-weighted plimsolls and primitive breathing equipment, Sydney was carrying out another perilious search for mines planted by enemy Italian frogmen on the hulls of Allied ships anchored in ports during World War Two.

    Working in total darkness, the divers would try to cut the mines loose or call for help from their commanding officer, Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb.

    “We had no diving equipment at all,” explains Sydney, now 88.

    “We just took a deep breath and tried to see what we could.”

    Sydney, who grew up in New Hall Lane, Preston, had joined the Royal Navy in 1939 at the age of 18.

    He served in the North Atlantic aboard HMS Zulu during the hunt for the Bismarck and later in Operation Pedestal, the naval convoy which broke the Siege of Malta in 1942.

    It was on his return to Gibraltar following Pedestal that he spotted an intriguing notice, pinned to a board: ‘Volunteers required for hazardous duties ashore.’

    Sydney recalls: “I wondered what could be more hazardous than the hell I had experienced on the Malta convoys – surely nothing ashore could equal that?

    “I was soon to discover, however, that it was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    “I was asked if I could swim, and if I would be interested in learning to become a diver.”

    After an interview with Crabb and Lt Bailey, the bomb and mine disposal experts, Sydney joined the Underwater Working Party and began the dangerous task of hunting for underwater explosives.

    Crabb’s expertise at rendering mines safe were second to none and earned him a George Medal, as well as the unwavering loyalty of his men, including Sydney.

    A film, The Silent Enemy, was later made about their underwater exploits, which also included searching for the body of the commander-in-chief of the Polish armed forces following a plane crash off Gibraltar.


    Read more...



  • Odyssey Marine 2009 financial results

    From Yahoo Finance

    For the full year 2009, Odyssey reported revenues of $4.3 million, compared to $4.1 million in 2008 while operating expenses decreased $6.4 million from $29.1 million in 2008 to $22.7 million in 2009.

    The company reported a net loss of $18.6 million for the full year 2009, compared to a net loss of $24.8 million in 2008. The net loss per share for the full year 2009 was $0.33, compared to a net loss per share of $0.50 in 2008.

    "We are pleased with the results of our 2009 operations, which despite some interesting challenges, saw some key strategic opportunities realized that I believe will have a profound effect on our business going forward.

    Several significant announcements made in late 2009 and early 2010 represent outstanding new opportunities for Odyssey, including the intention to syndicate multiple shipwreck projects with Robert Fraser & Partners that will mirror the structure of the "Enigma" project already executed.

    Taking into account expected revenue from multiple sources including these syndicated projects, we believe our current cash position is sufficient to fund operating cash flows through 2010, barring unforeseen circumstances," said Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm.

    "Also in 2009, we acquired a stake in a venture to pursue the exploration of deep-ocean gold and copper deposits.

    By providing our technical expertise and certain marine assets, we believe this will provide a lucrative future opportunity and is a natural extension to leverage our core competencies in deep-ocean exploration," stated Stemm.

    "In 2010, Odyssey will remain focused on continuing to strengthen our relations with several governments to conduct shipwreck searches with no upfront cost to taxpayers while returning cultural heritage and economic value to the governments.

    In September 2009, the UK Government awarded Odyssey a salvage award for the two cannon recovered from HMS Victory, while discussions continue to determine future plans for the site.

    The UK Government also awarded the exclusive salvage contract to Odyssey for the cargo of silver from the SS Gairsoppa," continued Stemm.

    "We have a very ambitious operational schedule planned for 2010, with seven separate projects planned, utilizing at least three ships as well as some outstanding new deep ocean assets we have just acquired.

    We also have some interesting new technology on the drawing board that will extend our capabilities to a depth of 6,000 meters."



  • Whydah group pulls out of Armory plan

    By Ted Hayes - East Bay RI 


    A Provincetown, Mass. shipwreck hunter has pulled out of a plan to bring a pirate museum and conservation and research center to the Thames Street Armory.

    Barry Clifford, who had been chosen by the Newport Redevelopment Agency as a partner in plans to renovate the landmark structure, officially withdrew his plan for the Armory Tuesday afternoon, saying the process had just become too political.

    “It just got way too confusing,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve got other options, but it’s too bad. We definitely would have come to Newport if it hadn’t gotten out of hand like this.”

    Mr. Clifford had been on the fence about quitting the project for nearly a month, and in fact submitted a withdrawal letter to the city on Thursday, Jan. 21. However, he was persuaded by some city officials to “put the letter in a drawer.” That changed Tuesday when one of his representatives had a meeting with city officials that did not go well, he said. That's when he decided to re-submit the letter.

    “They knew where I stood, but in the end there was just too much going on. We don’t have time for this,” he said.

    Specifically, Mr. Clifford was referring to several issues that have sprung up around the Armory over the past several weeks.

    They include differences of opinion on what the best use of the building is, questions raised by some over Mr. Clifford’s financial plan, and other questions about whether the Ann Street Pier would be available for use by his research vessel, the Vast Explorer II.

    He said the project needn’t have become so convoluted.

    “All we were really looking to do was rent the space,” he said.

    “We weren’t looking to really get into a major development. But then to find they want you to spend millions of dollars and then have to rent the building ? It was too much.”



  • Avisé a todo el mundo de lo que estaba haciendo Odyssey

    Lavoz Digital


    Claudio Bonifacio podría ser el protagonista perfecto de una buena novela de aventuras. En él, todo apunta al folletín. Por ejemplo: habla un andaluz mestizo y con acento italiano. Es cordial y ocurrente.

    Tiene carisma. Sabe que se le considera el cazatesoros más famoso de España, pero no le gusta la etiqueta.

    También intuye que, como a los buenos personajes, le acompaña un poso inevitable de ambigüedad moral, la sombra permanente de la sospecha. Lidia con eso. Es su pequeña tragedia cotidiana.

    Ha dedicado su vida a buscar y rescatar galeones hundidos. Para muchos lectores de esa hipotética novela, Claudio será un héroe, un viejo lobo de mar experto en cartas de navegación, diarios perdidos, batallas y naufragios. Otros, a tenor de sus peripecias judiciales, pensarán que es simplemente un crápula.

    «No soy un pirata», advierte. «En todo caso, soy un corsario, porque siempre he trabajado dentro de la legalidad, con patente de corso». Ningún juez ha demostrado todavía lo contrario. «Nunca he pretendido llenarme los bolsillos, sino llenar los museos», se justifica. «Y eso no es delito».

    En los últimos 30 años, Bonifacio ha trabajado para algunas de las empresas de localización de pecios más importantes del mundo, incluida Odyssey Marine. Ha escrito artículos científicos y tratados de referencia. Ha impartido cursos para especialistas y colaborado con la UNESCO. Ha localizado buques míticos en Portugal y en El Caribe.

    Pero también se ha visto relacionado con la Operación Tartesis contra el expolio del patrimonio sumergido («la causa se sobreseyó; aquel jaleo fue sólo una pompa de jabón»), y después en la 'Operación Bahía 2': «Ocurrirá lo mismo. Llevo cinco años esperando una resolución que ratifique lo que ya he gritado a los cuatro vientos: soy inocente».

    Ahora, además de continuar con proyectos de sondeos y prospecciones en Latinoamérica («todos conveniados con los gobiernos de la zona»), acaba de embarcarse en un nuevo y complejo viaje: quiere aclarar las cosas, reivindicar su condición de investigador, limpiar su nombre.

    Leer más...



  • Galle: A treasure trove of wrecked ships

    A wreck  A bell


    By Gamini Mahadura - The Sunday Times


    Galle port with its splendid natural harbour was an important port in days of yore being reputed as a trade centre due to its location just 12 miles away from international sea routes.

    Many sunken ships have been found here according to the UNESCO Pacific Zone’s marine archaeological centre in Galle Fort.

    There are as many as 26 places that need to be surveyed here which have a history dating back a hundred years.

    Along the coast in the Galle and Ambalangoda areas more than 100 wrecks of ships are reported have been found already. According to divers it is a new world which is the happy breeding grounds for fish.

    R K Somadasa de Silva of Hikkaduwa, a diver of repute had this to say on these findings.

    “I have over 30 years experience as a diver having dived in seas off Germany and England. I have more than 5000 hours of diving experience and I run an international diving school at the Coral Sands Hotel in Hikkaduwa.

    Some shipwrecks in the Galle area are over 500 years old and full of archaeological value.

    Some organized groups use dynamite to get at treasures in ships sunk between Galle and Ambalangoda.” Some steps have to be taken by marine archaeologists to save these treasures from vandals, he said.



  • Pirate exhibit in Norfolk taps into pirate craze

    By Steve Szkotak - ABC News


    Growing up on Cape Cod, explorer Barry Clifford was fascinated by the romantic tale of "Black Sam" Bellamy. Sailing to Massachusetts to rendezvous with his mistress, the pirate encountered a nor'easter that sent him, most of his crew, and tons of gold, silver and jewels to the ocean's bottom.

    The lore launched Clifford on a life of treasure-hunting — including the discovery in 1984 of the Whydah, Bellamy's treasure-laden three-master, which sank off of Wellfleet, Mass., on April 26, 1717.

    "I was looking for treasure, and I found it," Clifford, 64, said. "More treasure than I could have ever imagined. The whole bottom was layered with it."

    A sliver of Clifford's discovery is on display through April 4, 2010, at Nauticus, a marine science museum perched on the Norfolk waterfront.

    "Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship," organized by National Geographic, includes thousands of gold and silver coins and hundreds of other displays in a 16,000-square-foot interactive exhibition.


    Read more...



  • Treasure hunter: N.S. not protecting heritage

    By Beverley Ware - The Chronicle Herald


    A self-described treasure hunter said Nova Scotia is not living up to its obligations to protect its marine cultural heritage.

    Robert MacKinnon of Sydney spoke in Halifax Saturday at a small gathering of diving enthusiasts concerned about revisions to the province’s Treasure Trove Act.

    The act allows private treasure hunters to keep 90 per cent of the "financially significant" spoils of shipwrecks. The remaining 10 per cent of what is not deemed treasure goes to the province.

    The act was implemented in 1954 to deal with prospectors seeking treasure on Oak Island. Some members of the archeological community say it should be thrown out, while its supporters say it provides for plenty of checks and balances and should be left alone. The province has commissioned a review that is not yet complete.

    Mr. MacKinnon said he has been involved in about 15 treasure trove recoveries in Nova Scotia through wrecks such as the Auguste and Feversham off Cape Breton. He said he is responsible for 90 per cent of all marine treasure trove that has been handed over for conservation, but he said the province isn’t taking proper care of those artifacts.



  • OME busy with deep-ocean gold and copper deposits

    Deep deposits


    From Welt Online


    Odyssey Marine Exploration has acquired a minority interest in SMM Project LLC, a company funded by a group of investors to bring together the exclusive licenses and skills of world renowned deep-ocean geologist Dr. Timothy McConachy of Bluewater Metals, the deep-ocean survey and exploration expertise of Odyssey, and the offshore coring and mining expertise of Robert Goodden.

    SMM Project LLC recently purchased a majority interest in Bluewater Metals Pty Ltd, an Australian company with licenses for mineral exploration of approximately 150,000 square kilometers of ocean floor in four different countries in the South Pacific.

    The group will focus on the exploration and monetization of gold and copper-rich Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) deposits through a new business entity which will acquire the remaining interest in Bluewater, in accordance with a memorandum of understanding concluded between the parties.

    It is anticipated that Odyssey will dedicate certain marine assets, including a ship and related marine exploration technology to the endeavor, and will own approximately 40% of the new entity.

    In addition, Odyssey is expected to provide proprietary expertise and personnel management to the entity under contract, and will supervise operations to explore for deep-ocean gold, copper and silver deposits in areas covered by exploration permits currently held by Bluewater Metals.



  • Discoverer of Titanic to speak at Bloom U

    By Melissa Farenish - The Daily Item


    Oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard never grew up. The 67-year-old, best known for his discovery of the R.M.S. Titanic shipwreck in 1985, has declared himself to be “still a kid.” 

    In a recent telephone interview, an enthusiastic Ballard described his 50-year career exploring the sea. “I’m most known for the Titanic and the Bismarck shipwrecks but that’s a small part of my career,” Ballard said.

    Ballard, now a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, veered the conversation away from his shipwreck discoveries.

    Instead, he highlighted his discoveries of ocean hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, and life forms on the deep, sun-deprived ocean floors.

    Part of the allure of being a scientist is deconstructing every theory he ever learned in school.

     


     

  • Explorer claims sunken vessel

    Barry Clifford


    By Donna Goodison - Boston Herald.com


    Underwater explorer Barry Clifford, discoverer of the Whydah pirate ship that sank off Cape Cod in 1717, has his sights on another shipwreck.

    The Provincetown treasure hunter is petitioning state and federal authorities to lay claim to the Semiramis - an estimated 120-foot, three-masted ship armed with 14 cannons that sank between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in 1804.

    Built in the mid-1790s, the Semiramis is important from a historical standpoint because she was one of the first China traders, according to Clifford.

    The ship was headed to Newport, R.I., after a three-year voyage to China with a cargo - estimated to be worth $500,000 at the time - of silk, porcelain, tea and an undetermined amount of hard currency in the form of silver and possibly gold, according to research by Clifford’s historian, Ken Kinkor.

    “I have no idea what that would be worth today,” said Clifford, who’s putting together an expedition to survey the shipwreck with Falmouth-based Teledyne Benthos.

    “There was only supposed to be minor salvage done to the shipwreck at the time. I would suspect that much of the ship is buried under the sand and would be in very good condition.”


    More to read...



  • Shipwreck hunter sets sights on Newport

    Barry Clifford


    By Ted Hayes - East Bay RI


    Among the City By The Sea’s greatest assets are its colonial and maritime heritage. Now, one of the world’s most notable shipwreck hunters hopes to move his Cape Cod museum to Newport, saying the city could be an ideal fit for a museum, research and conservation center.

    Provincetown resident Barry Clifford, who found the wreck of Black Sam Bellamy’s pirate ship Whydah under 20 feet of sand off Wellfleet, Mass. 25 years ago, is considering moving his Provincetown museum and a preservation lab he runs in Brewster, Mass. to Newport.

    To Mr. Clifford, who is still excavating the 1717 wreck of the Whydah and is also searching for wrecks from Madagascar to Haiti, Newport could be perfect.

    “From everything I’ve heard, Newport is a great fit,” he said. “The colonial history is there, the maritime history is there. We’re very excited about it.”

    So far, Mr. Clifford has had discussions with Newport County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Keith Stokes and other Newport officials and property owners. Nothing — location among them — is set in stone, he said, and discussions over the possible move have just begun.

    But for Mr. Stokes, the fascinating story of the Whydah, a former slave ship captured by Bellamy that sunk with a loss of 144 lives, resonates and is worth developing.

    “On a personal level, I think it’s a great opportunity,” Mr. Stokes said Monday. “My sense is that heritage and cultural tourism is a major opportunity for Newport.

    The main thing about Newport is that we have authentic historical sites, materials and stories. Being able to present the history of piracy, the colonial slave trade, through this is a major opportunity. I’m excited about it.”


    Read more...



  • Hunt on for explorer's lost plane

    Underwater robot called Hugin 1000


    By Paul Rincon - BBC News


    A Norwegian team is set to embark on an expedition to find the submerged wreck of a plane which carried Norway's great polar explorer Roald Amundsen.

    Amundsen was aboard a Latham 47 flying boat when the aircraft disappeared over the sea on its way to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen in 1928.

    Two ships will set sail from the Norwegian city of Tromso on Monday to begin the two-week expedition.

    Underwater robotic vehicles will be used to scan for the plane using sonar.

    Between 1910 and 1912, Amundsen led the first expedition to reach the South Pole, reaching the target some five weeks before his British rival Robert Scott.

    On 18 June 1928, Amundsen joined a rescue operation to save another competitor, Umberto Nobile.

    The Italian aviator had crashed his airship Italia on a return voyage from the North Pole. Nobile and his surviving crew members found themselves drifting helplessly on pack ice.

    Amundsen boarded a Latham 47 flying boat along with a team of French Air Force pilots to try to reach them.

    According to experts involved in the 2009 expedition, the Latham 47 should have been about 19 nautical miles south of Bear Island when the plane's last radio message was picked up at 1845 on 18 June.


    More to read...



  • Syracuse University creates database to locate shipwrecks

    By Amanda Seef -The Post-Standard


    Cathryn R. Newton's infatuation with shipwrecks set sail during her teen years -- as a member of her father's research team that in 1973 discovered the wreckage of the USS Monitor, a Civil War icon, off the coast of North Carolina.

    Thirty-six years later, Newton has completed a database of more than 2,000 shipwrecks along the Southeastern coast of the United States. Newton, a dean emerita from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences, unveiled the database this month in a lecture at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.

    "It has potential for a radical re-envisioning of what can be done with nautical archaeology," Newton said of the searchable database that details 2,038 wrecks dating from 1526. "It shifts what we know about shipwrecks and how we know it."

    The database includes ship names, types, sizes and locations of the vessels, sinking dates, cargo information, passengers, departure dates and intended destinations.

    It is a collaboration of scientific and cultural information about the ill-fated vessels. The information was entered and re-checked by research assistants at Syracuse University, where Newton still teaches.

     


     

  • Pembrokeshire shipwreck chart

    Jim Hedley Phillips


    From Milford Mercury


    Over the centuries the Pembrokeshire coast has been the graveyard of countless shipwrecks, either in fierce storms or the as a result of bad navigation.

    For the last 40 years Jim Hedley Phillips, of Derwen Fawr, Swansea, has been researching Pembrokeshire shipwrecks and has recently put together an updated Pembrokeshire Shipwreck chart, the most comprehensive chart for this area ever produced.

    Jim, a well-known shipwreck researcher and diver has more than 2,400 dives under his belt.

    Off the Pembrokeshire and Gower coast he has found more than 40 undiscovered shipwrecks. Within his first year of diving Jim discovered two sunken vessels off Pembrokeshire.

    His shipwreck chart shows more than 200 wrecks with vessel names, dates and even cargo, some of them not published before.

    One of Jim’s most popular stories is about a dive to the SS Langton Grange wreck.

    It yielded 76 bottles of red wine which Jim drank freely before discovering they were worth around £1,500 each.



  • Diver Carl Spencer dies exploring Titanic sister ship

    Carl Spencer


    By Hannah Fletcher - Times Online


    A highly respected British diver has died during the exploration of a shipwreck off the coast of Greece.

    Carl Spencer, 37, had been leading a 17-man National Geographic Society expedition to film Britannic, sister ship of Titanic, off the island of Kea when he suffered severe decompression sickness (DCS), also known as the bends, during an emergency ascent to the surface.

    The 53,000-ton Britannic, even larger than her famous sibling and deemed equally “unsinkable”, was lost in 57 minutes after hitting a mine in 1916, while serving as a hospital ship during the First World War.

    The wreck was discovered in 1975 by the French undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, but, lying at about 300ft (90m), it pushes divers to the limits of endurance.


    More to read...


     

  • Gregg Stemm: is taking treasure from shipwrecks piracy ?

    Greg Stemm


    By Tim Bouquet - Times Online

    He has made millions liberating treasure from shipwrecks, and is accused of bounty hunting. But Gregg Stemm says he is preserving history.

    These days the word conjures up images of audacious hijackings of container ships off the horn of Africa, but when, in October 2007, César Antonio Molina told reporters: “There have always been navies . . . to combat pirates”, Spain’s culture minister was referring not to Somali gangs but to the American entrepreneur Greg Stemm.

    Stemm is probably the only “pirate” to run a publicly quoted company, filing financial statements with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

    These reveal that he earns $350,000 a year on top of his $6.14 million shareholding, and that his investors include the founder of Dollar Car Rental, a former Finance Minister of Bermuda and Barclays Global Investors.

    A fusion of Jacques Cousteau, Ernest Hemingway and Donald Trump, the 52-year-old is Chairman of Odyssey Marine Exploration (OME), which specialises in finding treasure-laden wrecks.

    Stemm has the precise handshake and manners of a Southern gentleman, but when we meet in London he is itching to get back to his diesel-smelling dive ship Odyssey Explorer in Cornwall, and what he calls “mucking about on the ocean”. And while he denies being a bounty hunter, he admits having no problem “marrying archaeology with a business model”.

    In 2003, OME discovered the American Civil War-era SS Republic, 1,700 ft below sea level, 100 miles southeast of Savannah, Georgia.

    The 14,000 objects that were subsequently recovered from the paddlewheel steamship, along with 51,000 gold and silver coins, have so far netted more than £29 million in salvage fees and sales, one of the richest treasure hauls ever.

    A year earlier, Stemm signed a deal with the British Government to dive on HMS Sussex, an 80-gun English warship that was lost in 1664 off the coast of Gibraltar. OME believes that its cargo has “a potentially-substantial numismatic value”.


    More to read...



  • A history of discovering seabed treasures

    By Anchalee Kongrut - Bangkok Post


    Underwater archaeologist Erbprem Vatcharangkul takes pride in recovering ancient items in the sea to make sense of it all and better understand the past.

    What is your idea of a romantic and adventurous career ?

    Answers tend to vary - an explorer, a professional extreme sports athlete, a treasure hunter, or a character in any Hollywood action film such as Indiana Jones.

    One career that might fit the notion of being romantically adventurous could be that of Erbprem Vatcharangkul, 55, and one of few underwater archaeologists in Thailand.

    The position of Chief of Underwater Archaeology Division, Fine Arts Department (FAD), Cultural Ministry, brings to mind footage that is commonly found in National Geographic features.

    Almost every week, Erbprem jumps on to a boat and goes for a dive with the hope of recovering cargo items or any historical evidence from wreck sites, which are mostly remains of ancient commercial ships from the Ayutthaya period some 600 years ago.

    Erbprem said he feels like a detective when approaching these mysterious ancient vessels.

    "It is quiet and very, very cold under the sea. When you approach a [wreck] site, everything is blurred and you cannot distinguish A from B. Eventually, the images become slightly clearer, but you still have to touch the subject with your hands, taking care you don't destroy it. Sometimes, you don't even know what you've found once you're back in the boat," said Erbprem, describing his experience under the water.

    The richest archaeological site his team found was Bang Rachai - an ancient vessel dating back almost 400 years, which cruised along commercial port towns within the Gulf of Thailand, loading and delivering goods.




  • Odyssey Marine Exploration Announces 2008 Financial Results

    From Odyssey Marine Exploration


    Odyssey Marine Exploration (Nasdaq:OMEX - News), pioneers in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, today reported full year 2008 financial results.

    For the full year 2008, Odyssey reported revenues of $4.1 million, compared to $6.1 million in 2007. The Company reported a net loss of $24.8 million for the full year 2008, compared to a net loss of $23.8 million in 2007. The net loss per share for the full year 2008 was $0.50, compared to a net loss per share of $0.54 in 2007.

    Operating expenses decreased $0.8 million from $29.9 million in 2007 to $29.1 million in 2008. While operations and research expenses increased $4.3 million from $14.3 million in 2007 to $18.6 million in 2008, marketing, general and administrative expenses decreased $3.5 million from $13.3 million to $9.8 million. In addition, the cost of sales was $1.7 million lower in 2008 than in 2007.

    Odyssey attributed the 2008 increase in operations and research expense to several factors, including increased vessel operating expenses ($2.8 million) related to additional ship charters utilized to supplement our operating schedule in the “Atlas” search area while the Ocean Alert was undergoing repairs, as well as vessel repair and maintenance expenses ($2.1 million), offset by lower themed attraction expenses ($0.6 million).



  • Working in murky waters

    From Times Online


    Marine Exploration revolves around its chief executive, Greg Stemm. Formerly a “fixer” for the comedian Bob Hope, Stemm has built a business in an arena known for extreme financial risk.

    The sky-high costs of working at sea, combined with historical inaccuracies, rival salvors and destructive salt-water chemistry makes profits rare.

    Odyssey employs about 150 people. Its two ships cost £25,000 a day to run. Stock market listing has given it access to the capital that its rivals can only dream of, but shareholders have yet to see the rewards. A legal and political minefield is to blame.

    Ownership and insurance issues are complicated, but more emotive is the problem of whether it is right for history to be sold at all.

    Unesco's treaty on underwater cultural heritage came into force at the start of this year, directed primarily at preventing the looting of shipwrecks by treasure hunters.

    Central to the treaty is the notion that artefacts are for study, not trade. Allowing them to be sold encourages people to search for wrecks.


    Read more...



  • Peek in on local treasure divers

    By McClatchy

    A search for sunken treasure on the ocean floor plays out like a cold case mystery on "Treasure Quest," a new Discovery Channel series that follows the undersea salvage work of Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration.  

    The 11-part series, debuting at 10 p.m. Thursday, takes viewers along on the hunt for the Merchant Royal, a trading ship loaded with gold, silver and jewels that went down in the English Channel in 1641.

    A mix of adventure, science and history, "Treasure Quest" details the work of the world's only publicly traded company dedicated to deep-ocean shipwreck exploration.

    "It's a chance to show people what we do and what's involved in locating, identifying and then recovering artifacts," says Odyssey co-founder and CEO Greg Stemm.

    "We're doing more than just recovering lost treasure," he adds. "Our goal is to map the entire ocean bottom."

    Odyssey made headlines in recent years with two major discoveries: the SS Republic, a steamship that sank 100 miles off the coast of Georgia in 1865 while carrying a fortune in gold coins, and a Colonial era shipwreck near Portugal that yielded $500 million in silver and gold coins.

     



  • Radick made films about wreck recoveries

    By Edmund Tijerina

     

    When Jerry Radick was a young boy, he loved the water so much that he made a diving helmet out of his mother's favorite kitchen pot.

    It worked down to 8 feet under water. Just an early indication of what would become a lifetime passion and later a source of his livelihood.

    Radick, a one-time San Antonio police officer who left his job as an insurance salesman to form an underwater photography company, died Monday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 73.

    He was a Michigan native who began diving in the Great Lakes. As a young man, he went into the Air Force and was stationed in Alaska. Later, he was transferred to San Antonio, and decided to stay.

    After the Air Force, he worked for four years with the San Antonio Police Department and then sold insurance for several years.

    He opened his own business, Radick Method, which helped people process insurance claims.

    During that time, he met his wife, San Antonio native Rose-Mary Dunkin, a pharmaceutical company representative.

    Soon after they married, they decided to pursue their dream of adventure.



  • Thrupenny bit a rich reward for history buff

    Peter Ronald


    By Alex Sinnott

     

    Small change could prove a rich find for Warrnambool's Peter Ronald after he discovered a Queen Victoria threepence coin on a leisurely afternoon walk near Thunder Point.

    The maritime archaeologist and former Flagstaff Hill director was walking with his dog Chino towards Shelly Beach when he found the coin.

    "I found the coin in an Aboriginal midden along the coast - it was rather corroded but its black circular shape stood out," he said.

    "It could possibly pre-date European settlement of Warrnambool in the mid-1840s, which would be a significant historical find. "The face side of Queen Victoria is still noticeable and given the design it could be from as far back as 1838 as the profile was used between that time and the late 1860s."

    Mr Ronald said it was possible the coin was a small remnant of one of the numerous shipwrecks that occurred off the south-west coast in the 19th century.

    "There was about 100 shipwrecks between 1835 and 1870 so it would be hard to determine which one exactly, but it is a possibility that it was from a shipwreck," he said.

     

    Read more...



  • Shipwreck lover Valerie Van Heest

    By John Hogan

     

    Imagine standing on the deck of a boat in the middle of a choppy Lake Michigan, with wind-blown rain buffeting your face like rice at a wedding.

    Not exactly the ideal way to spend your 48th birthday.

    Yet Valerie van Heest prefers this sort of mid-September activity to strolling Chicago's Magnificent Mile with friends and a charge card.

    The conversion came 20 years ago, when van Heest met a group of people who shared her long-dormant love of Great Lakes history.

    "In 1988, my life changed," she said.

    "All my friends were people from work, and my time was spent either shopping for clothes or working. I forgot how much I missed the water."

     



  • Third time unlucky for tragic sailor who survived Titanic

    Archibald 'Archie' Jewell

    From Mail Online

     

    A sailor who survived two massive shipwrecks including the Titanic, finally died when a third vessel sunk, it emerged today.

    Tragic Archie Jewell's bad luck has been uncovered in two letters up for auction at Sothebys.

    Archibald 'Archie' Jewell, who was born in 1888, was a lookout on the Titanic on the night she hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and went down, taking 1,523 lives with her, in April 1912.  

    Remarkably, he was also serving on Britannic, which was being used as a hospital ship, when it was hit by a mine that killed 30 in 1916.

    In an evocative letter to one of his sisters in Cornwall, just 11 days after the Titanic disaster, 23-year-old Mr Jewell describes the sinking of the liner and the immediate aftermath.

     

    Read more...



  • Odyssey Marine Exploration announces third quarter 2008 results

    From Investors

     

    Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (OMEX), the world leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, today filed a quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission detailing results of the Company's third quarter 2008.

    For the third quarter of 2008, Odyssey reported revenue of $2.2 million, compared to $1.3 million in the third quarter 2007.

    The Company also reported a net loss of $6.5 million, compared to a net loss of $5.4 million in the third quarter 2007. The net loss per share for the third quarter 2008 was $.13, compared to a net loss of $.11 per share in the third quarter 2007...

    ...An agreement was negotiated during third quarter 2008 with Arqueonautas Worldwide for the exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the collectible quality coins from their SAGBPo Jose shipwreck project.

    These coins have not been available for sale previously and we are marketing them through our authorized distributors.

    This project is expected to generate revenue through sales commissions beginning in the fourth quarter 2008 and has allowed us to expand our distribution network with new product to prepare for future Odyssey shipwreck products and stories....





  • Who is the nouveau Cousteau ?

    Cousteau


    By Kimberly Cutter



    When diver Jacques Cousteau died, he left behind a legacy of ocean exploration. But as his grandsons Fabien and Philippe look to seize his nautical throne, another tragic, troubled legacy has resurfaced.

    Is there enough ocean for all the Cousteaus to share, asks Kimberly Cutter

    Not long ago, it must have seemed to Fabien Cousteau that the end of his troubles was in sight. After decades of struggling in the shadow of his ocean-exploring father, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and his iconic grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, Fabien was coming into his own. 

    He had completed his first self-produced film, a controversial shark documentary, Mind of a Demon; he had a starring role in his father's hit series, Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Adventures; he had a deal with a cable network to create his own series.

    Most important, the legal battles that had plagued the Cousteaus for the past decade seemed to be coming to an end.

    Read more...



  • Herbo lays claim to another wreck

    By Norma Connolly

     

    Treasure hunter and former owner of the Holiday Inn in Cayman, Herbert Humphreys has laid claim to what he says is a historically important wreck in international waters.

    Captain Humphreys, known as Herbo, said he had found the wreck of a wood–hulled paddle wheel steamship that sank in the 19th Century with a large loss of life.

    He said that because a documentary and feature film about the shipwreck and its recovery are planned, he could not reveal the name or location of the wreck at the moment.

    “We can’t say anything more about the wreck or where it is until everything is documented and the salvage completed,” said Capt. Humphreys, who is a resident of both Cayman and Memphis, Tennessee.

    He said the wreck was “mostly intact, very valuable, and is not a warship. It is in international waters and is less than 500 feet deep, which makes for an affordable recovery.”

     

    Read more...>



  • Lake Worth man remembered for a life of discovery

    Bob Weller

    By Dianna Smith


    It wasn't just the treasure that kept Bob "Frogfoot" Weller in crystal blue waters searching for pieces of the past.

    It was the people. And the stories. And that sparkle in the eye that Mr. Weller often got when he made a discovery, when he wrote another book, when he found someone else to inspire.

    Mr. Weller, a man who some fondly say lived three lives, died Monday, Oct. 13, at 83, leaving behind not only his treasures, but a slew of family, friends and admirers who could spend a lifetime sharing stories.

    "He was a hard man to keep down," said his best friend, Ernie Richards of Lake Worth. "He had a Naval career, he was in sales and marketing and now this," referring to his treasure hunting passion and business, Crossed Anchors Salvage.

    Mr. Weller served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean Conflict, earning the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for bravery, and was one of the first combat diver team members, nicknamed "Frogman," which eventually led to the nickname "Frogfoot."

    He later earned degrees in architectural and civil engineering and eventually became a reliable salesman with charisma and a knack for making friends. Friends like John Adair of Lantana. The two men met through work and remained friends for 40 years.

    "He took me diving in the Keys in 1966," Adair said. "He and I became friends ever since then."

     


     

  • Pulling history from the sea

    By Scott Christiansen


    One day in March of this year, Steve Lloyd’s 27-foot cabin cruiser Obtainium was headed on a course along the Kenai Peninsula’s southwestern tip from Seldovia to the elongated bay of Port Graham, which shelters the town of the same name.

    Lloyd considers himself a pretty savvy scuba diver, if not Alaska’s premier shipwreck hunter and he and his dive partner Ursa Lively were headed for a nearby shipwreck site.

    Their lure wasn’t treasure, but a 140-year-old military wreck known as the Torrent, which Lloyd had visited twice before.

    His pioneering dives in July 2006 revealed only spikes; apparently part of the ship drifted and created it’s own debris field as wooden parts rotted away. Lloyd led an expedition the next year that found anchors, and cargo, including cannon balls and an intact bronze cannon barrel. 

    Slowly, the Torrent was giving up her secrets to an expanding, albeit small, circle of divers skilled enough to dodge Cook Inlet currents during brief periods of slack tide.

    Read more...



  • Local pirate tops Forbes earning list

    By Mary Ann Bragg


    Off the coast of Wellfleet are the spoils of the richest colonial-era pirate in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

    Englishman Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy, whose sunken Whydah ship is immortalized in a private museum in Provincetown, emerged as the wealthiest pirate in Forbes "20 Highest Earning Pirates" list published Friday.

    Forbes described high-seas piracy as "the colonial era's version of investment banking."

    Bellamy made about $120 million over his lifetime, valued in current dollars, Forbes said.

    Second to him is Sir Francis Drake, another Englishman, who made $115 million.

    The former slave ship, the Whydah, sank in a gale off Marconi Beach in Wellfleet in April 1717 after Bellamy seized it earlier that year with at least four tons of treasure on board, said Ken Kinkor of the Provincetown museum, the Expedition Whydah Sea Lab & Learning Center.

    When the Whydah sank, Bellamy was using it as his primary ship, and it contained the loot of at least 50 other ships as well, Kinkor said.



  • Diving, Morehead communities suffer a loss

    By Jannette Pippin


    George Purifoy of Morehead City spent the last hours of his life on a dive at the site of one of the area's famous shipwrecks - a poignant end for a man known as a pioneer in North Carolina wreck diving.

    "He certainly was a leader in the dive world," said Carteret County Tourism Director Carol Lohr, a longtime friend. "I truly believe he was instrumental in making the wreck diving industry in North Carolina what it is today.

    He had a real passion about it, not just the diving, but also the history of the wrecks."

    Lohr came to know Purifoy more than 20 years ago as the North Carolina Seafood Festival held on the Morehead City waterfront was being organized.

    Lohr said Purifoy, owner of Olympus Dive Center located on the waterfront, was always willing to take writers offshore and do what he could to promote wreck diving, but he was also a big supporter of his community.
     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Archaeologist at Shipwreck and Coastal Heritage Centre

    Peter Marsden

    From the Rye and Battle Observer


    Archaeologist Dr Peter Marsden, of the Shipwreck and Coastal Heritage Centre, has won a coveted prize for his presentation on Bulverhythe.

    He was awarded first place in the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool after being selected as one of eight finalists to give a talk the public and panel of heritage judges. 

    Archaeologist Julian Richards, presenter of television program Meet the Ancestors, handed out the awards.
     


     

  • Legal setback for man who claims he found Hunley

    Clive Cussler          Lee Spence


    By Bruce Smith


    An underwater archaeologist who claims he found the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley said Monday he will keep fighting for official credit for the discovery, despite a lawsuit over the matter being dismissed.

    Lee Spence claimed he found the Hunley in 1970 when a fishing net snagged on the submarine's wreckage and says he has the documents to prove it.

    But the state gave shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler credit, saying he located the sub off Sullivans Island near Charleston in 1995.

    Cussler's National Underwater and Marine Agency sued Spence, arguing that his claim of finding the submarine damaged the agency's reputation. Cussler's agency still believes its allegations are correct but "does not desire to pursue litigation against a defendant who, in turn, has professed such litigation has caused him mental trauma resulting in institutionalization and in assorted physical aliments," according to court documents filed Friday.





  • Cussler ends lawsuit over finding Hunley

    By Schuyler Kropf


    Clive Cussler says he doesn't need another court victory to prove he found the Hunley submarine, so on Friday he dropped his seven-year legal battle with a South Carolina man over the claim. 

    Lawyers for the author and shipwreck hunter filed a motion to dismiss Cussler's lawsuit against rival Edward Lee Spence, a man who claims he found the Confederate submarine several years earlier. 

    Cussler filed the suit in 2001 to stop Spence from telling people the adventure writer had jumped his claim. Spence filed a countersuit, which was thrown out of court last year.



  • Michael Peltier: State, salvers at odds over water treasures

    By Michael Peltier


    Private treasure hunters are squaring off with state historic officials over a new proposed set of rules to govern the salvaging of sunken ships and the financial and historic troves they bear.

    At a workshop held last week at the state museum and archives, salvers, academic archaeologists and rule makers expressed dramatically different concerns over a proposed set of rules that would place tougher restrictions on the recovery of artifacts from historic shipwrecks.

    Backers of the proposed changes say they would enhance the protection of cultural artifacts in state waters, bringing Florida into compliance with other states and foreign countries that have drastically limited or eliminated the private excavation of historic underwater sites.

    “It is wrong and it has always been wrong,” said William Lees, an archaeologist at the University of West Florida, echoing scores of other researchers who sent letters and e-mails.

    Read more...



  • Mel Fisher days to pay tribute to legendary shipwreck salvor July 17-20

    From Travel Video TV


    The late Mel Fisher, one of the 20th century's best-known shipwreck salvors, is to be honored with a Key West festival that also commemorates the 23rd anniversary of his most famous find.

    Mel Fisher Days is set to begin Thursday, July 17, and continue through Sunday, July 20 -- the anniversary of Fisher's discovery of the shipwrecked Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha in the waters off Key West.

    Fisher and his Treasure Salvors crew uncovered a huge cache of Atocha treasure and artifacts, hailed by the world press as the shipwreck find of the 20th century, in 1985 after a 16-year search.

    The galleon was wrecked during a 1622 hurricane approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West.

    History aficionados can view Atocha artifacts and treasures at Key West's Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, 200 Greene St., operated by the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society that Fisher established in 1982.

    Objects on display include gold and silver bars and coins, rare navigational instruments, cannons and smaller weapons, religious and secular jewelry and even a 77.7-carat emerald.



  • In Memoriam - Roxanna Maude Brown

    Roxanna Brown

    From UCLA Institute and other sources


    It is with deepest sadness that we mourn the untimely death on May 14, 2008 of UCLA Art History alumna Dr. Roxanna M. Brown, 62, world-renowned expert on SEA ceramics, curator of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum at Bangkok University and editor of their excellent newsletter.

    She died in Seattle reportedly of an infection brought on by a perforated ulcer while in federal custody on a very dubious indictment.

    She had gone to Seattle to present a paper on SEA ceramics at a conference co-sponsored by UCLA and the University of Washington.

    An Asian-antiquities dealer arrested in Seattle on wire-fraud charges died in federal custody from infection and inflammation caused by a perforated gastric ulcer, according to the King County Medical Examiner's Office.

    Brown had been arrested a week ago by federal agents on an grand-jury indictment in Los Angeles. She was charged with wire fraud and was a key figure — and the first arrest — in a long-running investigation into alleged Asian-antiquities smuggling and fraud, according to court papers.



  • On the trail of a missing aviator, Saint-Exupéry

    By John Tagliabue


    After the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, the demise of the French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on a reconnaissance mission in World War II has ranked as one of flying's great mysteries.

    Now, thanks to some sleuthing by a French diver and marine archaeologist, the final pieces of the puzzle seem to have been filled in.

    The story that emerged about the disappearance of Saint-Exupéry, in self-exile from Vichy France, proved to contain several narratives, a complexity that would probably have pleased the author of several adventure books on flying and the famous tale "The Little Prince," about a little interstellar traveler, which was also a profound statement of faith.


    Read more...