Sunday, May 20, 2007

If You Needed A Reason To Learn How To Scuba Dive...

How About Treasure?

A half bilion dollars in Colonial-era coins has been discovered in a wreck off the southern England coast by a team of American divers.

This would be the highest-valued shipwreck ever discovered, easily out-classing the Atocha (altho rumours abound that only half that treasure has been found.

So you could finance about half a run for the Presidency after just a weekend's worth of work and a lot of luck!

I kid. Treasure hunting is a very expensive hobby, and requires massive discipline and resources. And even still, a lot of luck. There are a lot of shipwrecks out there, and many of them have already been explored and looted. The ones that remain are either very well hidden, or in places that make salvage difficult, to put it mildly.

Like this as-yet-unidentified-publicly wreck, found in pretty rough seas near the English Channel, or so it appears, they tend to sink in places where ships sink readily.

Duh! The Atocha is fairly easy to dive to, in places you could even snorkel down and pick up loose coins (don't try it, folks, the wreck has been awarded to the Mel Fisher group), but that's sheer luck: the Atocha was hammered apart by at least one hurricane, and the wreck is strewn across the seas off the Florida Keys.

Most wrecks yield only historical information and anthropological evidence of who people were and how they lived, and a wreck with anything more than a modest amount of coinage or jewelry is extremely rare. Still, even the historic wrecks have some value to them.

People like Robert Ballard and Clive Cussler have managed to make a living going after wrecks (or rather, a livelihood...Cussler still has to write his nigh-unreadable books and Ballard gets a lot of assistance from various sources like the National Geographic Society). Wreck salvaging is not for the faint of heart, either.

But look what happens when you get lucky!