The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 46, November 11, 2007, Article 27


Larry Gaye writes: "Regarding the article on the 'Odyssey
Situation' it is interesting to note the comment by the
archeology community calling the undersea explorer's skills
in question and condemning their activities.  Underwater
archeologists are not able to conduct deep water exploration;
they stick to the shallow coastal regions.

"They are however the first to condemn that which they are
not able to do. The fact that money is being made is their
main concern; they fail to understand that we as a community
are learning more because of the activities of the Odyssey
Group because they are able to explore these areas of the
ocean.  The Odyssey Group and the others that explored the
SS Republic and Central America gave us a wealth of information.
Had the exploration been done by the archeologists, we would
still be waiting for information as 95% of digs done by the
archeological community are never published and the materials
taken from sites by them never see the light of day.

"Balance and cooperation could lead to some very different

[Last Sunday (November 4) the New York Post published an
article of its own on the Odyssey Marine situation, and it
addresses some of the technology and cost issues Larry
mentions.  Several numismatic personalities were interviewed
for the article headlined "Booty Call".  Here are some excerpts.

"An estimated $3 billion worth of treasure lurks in the
deep, according to marine archeologists. And each time a
famous shipwreck is found, waves of excitement wash over
the industry.

"'The sky is the limit,' says Dan Sedwick, a professional
numismatist. 'Something was lost nearly every year in history.'

"'It's all about the hunt,' says Sean Fisher, 29, whose
grandfather, Mel Fisher, made history in 1985 when he
discovered the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, with its $400
million haul of coins and artifacts. 'We could have retired
the year we found the Atocha, but what's the fun of that?'

"Shipwreck recovery goes back as far as ancient Greece,
and the industry got a huge boost in the 1940s with the
popularity of scuba diving. But the last 10 years has
seen a dizzying advance in technology, from the improvement
of remotely operated vehicles that can plunge deeper and
search larger areas, to digital side-scanners that reveal
clear images in thousands of feet of water.

"Most of the prized ships that explorers are currently
hunting, including Odyssey's 'Black Swan,' would have been
impossible to pursue without these advances. Technology is
turning what was once unfathomable fathoms into a reachable,
if incredibly expensive and dangerous, treasure chest.

"'People are going into deeper waters, and that takes money,'
says James Delgado, executive director of the Institute of
Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. 'Titanic
submersibles run about $35,000 to $50,000 a dive. What are
you going to find that makes it worth that?'

"Well, tons of ancient gold bars, for one thing. Along with
emeralds, silver and other pretty prizes. Even if the overhead
is ridiculously high, the promise of a dead man's chest stirs
something potent in treasure seekers - including the land
lubbing, stock-holding kind: Odyssey began trading on NASDAQ
in July, a sign that hunting gold is a growth industry.

"Marine archeologists like Delgado tend to loathe treasure
hunting, saying the practice destroys archeological sites
and keeps valuable historical artifacts out of the hands of
scholars. Plus, they say, indulging in childhood pirate
fantasies is no way for anyone to get rich.

"'People think that every shipwreck has treasure, and that's
not the case. The majority of wrecks may have artifacts, but
there is not a lot of real treasure, Delgado said. 'Very people
actually hit the motherload.'

"But when they do, it's spectacular.

"Mel Fisher was a scuba shop owner drowning in bills, when
a friend asked for help trying to locate the sunken Atocha.
He decided to give treasure hunting one year. Day after day,
the family's expensive endeavors yielded nothing. Then, on
the 363rd day, Fisher dug a hole and pulled up 1,300 gold
coins, Sean Fisher says.

"Odyssey's 'Black Swan,' might eclipse Fisher's find as the
largest shipwreck of all time. But critics are skeptical.

"'You have to wonder what's going on there,' says Robert W.
Hoge, curator of North American coins and currency at the
American Numismatic Society. 'This company has found important
numismatic finds in the past, but instead of publishing the
information about them, they've hidden in hopes of making
more money for their finds.'

"Other historians and collectors say they doubt the Black
Swan's booty will be as grand as Odyssey predicts.

"'I'm having a real hard time (believing) that value of
$500 million,' says coin dealer Rick Ponterio, who has sold
Mexican coins from the early 1700s for as much as $97,750
each - and some shipwreck coins for as low as $5. 'Rarity,
quality and demand are the three factors in determining what
a shipwreck coin is worth. If they have that big a cargo of
coins, they're no longer worth that much. What was one of
the criteria? Rarity.'

"Regardless of the eventual yield, Odyssey and other
treasure-seekers will likely keep looking for bigger and
bigger finds. They can't help it. Like eight-year-olds who
never stopped playing pirate, shipwreck explorers say the
allure of finding something that was 'lost forever' never
lets them go.

"'When you discover something, and the last time it was
touched by human hands was in a hurricane in 1692, it send
tingles from the tips of your toes to the top of your head,'
Fisher says. 'You never want to do anything else.' "

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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