Underwater treasure hunting
Great Scuba Diving Destinations: The Five Most Specatular, Recognized ShipwrecksThe history of humanity- the rise and fall of civilizations, exploration, trade and warfare – is preserved in the watery tombs of shipwrecks and sunken vessels that lie shrouded in mystery beneath the worlds’ oceans.
Underwater treasure hunting has gained great popularity in recent years due to significant advancements in the technology of underwater metal detectors, and sonar.
Treasure hunters can walk the beach, staying on dry sand and searching for lost jewelry and coins. They can also walk into shallow water, most often at low tide, to search for metals. With a waterproof metal detector, a treasure hunter can wade into deep water or the surf, often chest or neck deep. Most jewelry and metal is found in deep water. Scuba diving offers the ultimate hunting, with the ability to explore under water for truly sunken treasure.
Serious and professional scuba divers have all dreamed of finding sunken treasure, pirate treasure, ship wrecks or other monumental historic artifacts. Stories of finds, some small, some very large, abound. However, in recent years discoveries of great magnitude have been made.
In 2003, a U.S. shipwreck-recovery firm called Odyssey Marine Exploration, recovered a Civil War era steamship, The Republic, which sank off the coast of Georgia in the year 1865. Scuba divers were led by company founder Greg Stemm, an entrepreneur with a deep passion for underwater treasure hunting. The divers recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold and silver coins, and historic artifacts.
In May of 2009, divers off the coast of the United Kingdom discovered ancient treasures from one of the world’s oldest shipwrecks. These treasures include bronze-age gold and artifacts dating from the year 900 B.C.
In March of 2010, twelve shipwrecks dating from the 17th and 18th centuries were discovered in the Baltic Sea while a gas company was using sonar and underwater cameras to survey the route for a new gas pipeline. Plans are currently underway for Swedish dive teams to explore and recover historic treasures from these wrecks.
With recent ship wreck discoveries of such magnitude, scuba divers and treasure hunters have been particularly inspired. The other alluring aspect of underwater treasure hunting is that there are many areas of the open ocean where salvage is perfectly legal and recoveries do not fall under any particular jurisdiction.
If you are a scuba diver interested in underwater treasure hunting or water metal detecting, it is wise to begin by exploring wrecks that are recognized dive sites, prior to venturing off into remote or unexplored territories. Here is a list of the top geographic locations featuring some of the very best recognized shipwrecks in the world.
1) Wreck of the SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea, Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
The crystal clear, tepid waters of the Red Sea make for spectacular diving around this ship that was sunk by the Germans in 1941 off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheik has been a popular high class destination for divers.
2) Wreck of the RMS Rhone, British Virgin Islands
The RMS Rhone was a 19th century steamship that sank off the coast of a Salt Island during a 1867 hurricane. The wreck is now a protected Marine National Park, boasting fantastic corals, and sea life. The ship lies fully intact nearly 80 feet below the surface.
3) Wreck of SS Yongala, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
Traditionally, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most popular and spectacular natural scuba diving destinations. The reef is also the resting place of the SS Yongala, a ship that sank in 1911 during a cyclone. All 122 passengers on board lost their lives. Today, the SS Yongala is one of the largest, most in-tact shipwrecks in the world.
4) The Shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon, Fujikawa Maru, Truk, Micronesia
Truk Lagoon in Micronesia boasts over 60 shipwrecks and dozens of sunken aircraft that are all that remains of the Japanese fleet destroyed in 1944.
5) Wreck of USS Oriskany, Pensacola, Florida
The USS Oriskany is a US Navy aircraft carrier that served in the Vietnam War and was later intentionally sunk to become the world’s largest artificial coral reef.
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