Florida Aquarium maps and explores archaeological treasures

By Janet Zink - Tampa Bay

Casey Coy stood on a boat on the Hillsborough River two weeks ago, monitoring the breathing of divers below and watching cars cruise along the interstate above.

"The thought struck me: I'm anchored over a sunken Civil War battleship, and these people are driving to and from work and have no idea what they're driving over," he said.

Coy, the dive director at the Florida Aquarium, hopes all that will change in coming years as the aquarium maps and explores shipwrecks and other underwater archaeological treasures in the Tampa Bay area.

So far, aquarium divers have discovered two Confederate blockade runners — the Scottish Chief and the Kate Dale — sunk in the Hillsborough River, a Union ship called the Narcissus and two unidentified wrecks near Egmont Key.

Plans call for searching the Hillsborough River for a third blockade runner — the Noyes — next summer. The aquarium has three state grants of nearly $50,000 for the explorations.

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