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Wreck diving and salvaging - interesting article

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Kim Eslinger

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Apr 16, 2003
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The ongoing debate......

It is indeed an interesting article....if you take into account that the interviewee skims over the simple fact that vessels that are looted by salvagers are often destroyed in the process thus rendering their historic/arcaheological value moot and making them worthless dives for sport divers.

Salvage of a vessel implies that the vessel has no historic value, is not a war grave, and has sunk quite recently. The salvager of said vessel not only takes on the liability of the wreck but also the monetary gain of recovering the vessel or its cargo for bidders.

Treasure hunters often use the word salvage for what they are doing when they recover artifacts from wrecksites around the globe. However, the original owner of the vessel is often a nation and the vessel is often of historic merit - thus the destruction of the vessel and the selling of the artifacts is a tragedy.

Wouldn't it be sad though if we suddenly lost the opportunity to dive on truly incredible wrecksites because every diver before us took something? These are not renewable resources. We are already educated within the dive community to look and not touch with corals, why is this such a struggle with ship wrecks?
 

tom yerian

New Member
Sep 26, 2004
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Re: The ongoing debate......

Let me put it to you this way: You and some friends are diving in a newly discovered diving paradise somewhere in the Caribbean on a beautiful reef area. As you cruise along you happen upon a hitherto unknown Spanish Galleon.And littering this :hmm 80x30x6 ft ballast pile is hundreds of bars of gold, fabulous jewels, 15 foot long gold chains, Perfectly preserved Ming porcelains, masses of huge emeralds, and tons of fabulous treasure.Now, no one but you, and several of your diver friends, and your large american pleasure boat are out there all by yourselves, floating on deep azure blue seas; what are you gonna do? Turn it into the local government? Leave it alone and tell other divers of your fabulous find so the can dive it to enjoy the rich heritage of the culture of who it was part of;and of course you made them promise not to take anything so other divers can enjoy this abundance of heritage. WHAT WOULD YOU REALLY, TRULY, AND HONESTLY DO? Please, let as many divers that read this, make an honest comment on how they would handle this same scenario.

Thank You.....Capt. Tom Yerian
 
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tom yerian

New Member
Sep 26, 2004
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Re: The ongoing debate......

you can blame the archeology world! there is an estimated 1,000,000 + wrecks from 6,000 years of history. The archeologists want total control of all of them. They couldn't work all those wrecks if the total world budget was given them!!! If they would work with the people who risk their lives, and dollars and are the ones who are actively finding these wrecks, much more would get done. What about all the fine collections of the rich in Europe? How did they get their collections? 90% CAME FROM SALVAGE!!! So, as my story goes, the finder will make any rational to keep what he has found, knowing, if he reveals anything, the Gov. steps in and the next thing you know is a lot of rich collectors add to their collections while the ones who found it are out in the cold! Govs. couldn't even begin to store it all, and thats what they would try to do until it was auctioned off!!! To the rich I might add. So, you are right, a lot of piracy is going on and its the Gov sponsored witch groups that delude people like you into beliving salvors are at fault.90% of any/all the beauty would not be here for you to see if it were not for the salvor, your heritage minded archelogists would still be debating weather there should be Marine Archeology. Next time you go to a museum, or a display of history from the sea, thank some salvor who made the discovery, not an archeologist who legally robbed him :vangry of it.That is the reason people like me will secreatly take away the valuables, as they will be lost to legal crooks or the elements.........Thank You

Capt. Tom Yerian....also a salvor
 
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ajwaverider

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Jan 3, 2004
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About a year or two ago a friend of mine was part of a group that found a wreck of fernindina, FL. He was just a diver/hired hand but he explained to me some of the trouble they went thru with the archeologist/state and the country of france. It turned out some of the treasure was from france and like 70% or so had to go back to them and most of the rest went to museums.They made out with a little more than what they put into the salvage.*&&*France!!! Finders keepers loosers weepers is how I look at it .I'm not saying that I would go at it with reckless abandon but I would be rewarded for my efforts.
 

Kim Eslinger

New Member
Apr 16, 2003
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It seems as though the thread becomes further polarized no matter which side of the matter you stand on. In answer to whether or not I would keep any of the alleged gold bullion - the answer is an emphatic and honest no. As a diver, a hiker, a boater, and an archaeologist my primary concern is to conserve our environment and our cultural heritage.

While the argument that "if I leave it here someone else will just take it" may have merit in some minds, I would counter with the argument that "it doesn't belong to you". Ships and their cargo in many cases belong to our collective past and I fail to see why the recovery of some steel artifact or brass porthole brings such glee to many divers. Particularly when those artifacts are then allowed to simply decompose at a far faster rate in the diver's garage than when they were on the sea floor.

There are certainly good and bad archaeologists and good and bad salvors. For the record, I have worked hard to use avocational divers and archaeologists on projects. I feel very strongly that we have to find a way to work together or we are going to lose our ability to even have these discussions.
 

reefsavers.org

New Member
May 3, 2005
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Re: The ongoing debate......

Kim Eslinger said:
It is indeed an interesting article....if you take into account that the interviewee skims over the simple fact that vessels that are looted by salvagers are often destroyed in the process thus rendering their historic/arcaheological value moot and making them worthless dives for sport divers.

Salvage of a vessel implies that the vessel has no historic value, is not a war grave, and has sunk quite recently. The salvager of said vessel not only takes on the liability of the wreck but also the monetary gain of recovering the vessel or its cargo for bidders.

Treasure hunters often use the word salvage for what they are doing when they recover artifacts from wrecksites around the globe. However, the original owner of the vessel is often a nation and the vessel is often of historic merit - thus the destruction of the vessel and the selling of the artifacts is a tragedy.

Wouldn't it be sad though if we suddenly lost the opportunity to dive on truly incredible wrecksites because every diver before us took something? These are not renewable resources. We are already educated within the dive community to look and not touch with corals, why is this such a struggle with ship wrecks?
You are so right! If it has been deemed a grave or memorial then it should be hands off. Treasure wrecks fall into a different category. If I find a wreck and
nobody else knows about it then Id apply for the permits and SALVAGE what I could and share it by placing it in a museum. I would of course liquidate some of the items but only to museums or where public viewing was allowed.
If I dont do it that way someone else will find it and may not say a word.
 

mps798

New Member
Jul 15, 2005
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well actually as far as i know everything that concern sea bottom is controlled by the U.N.C.L.O.S. (united nations convention on the law of the sea) so somehow i dont fully agree with the article , anyway thats only my oppinion , and ofcourse countries that didnt sign that convention are excluded from imposing in to their exclusive economical zone the way it was ment to be (i dont know if i m right but i beleive somewhere into that convention says .. everything on the bootom of the sea .... and 200 nautical miles from the coast)
 
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