The Salvors! In an Adventure With Marine Archaeologists!


From Hakai Magazine:

In May 2016, a salvor named Bobby Pritchett, president of Global Marine Exploration (GME) in Tampa, Florida, announced that he had discovered scattered remains of a ship buried a kilometer off Cape Canaveral. Over the prior three years, he and his crew had obtained 14 state permits to survey and dive a nearly 260-square-kilometer area off the cape; they did so around 250 days each year, backed by investor funds of, he claims, US $4-million.

It was hard work. Crew members were up at dawn, dragging dual booms with magnetometry sensors from their expedition vessels back and forth, back and forth, day in and day out, month after month, year after year, to detect metal of any kind. Using computer technology, Pritchett and his crew created intricate, color-coded maps marked with the GPS coordinates of thousands of finds—including spent rockets, airplane shrapnel, and shrimp boats—all invisible under a meter of sand. The targets lay like an explosion of iridescent black, green, blue, and yellow stars on an image of the ocean. “We would find a target, then go back and dive it, and move the sand to see what it was,” he says. “We did that thousands of times until we finally discovered targets of historic importance.”

One day in 2015, the magnetometer picked up metal that turned out to be an iron cannon; when the divers blew the sand away, they also discovered a more precious bronze cannon with markings indicating French royalty and, not far off, a famous marble column carved with the coat of arms of France, known from historical engravings and watercolors. The discovery was cause for celebration. The artifacts indicated the divers had likely found the wreck of La Trinité, a 16th-century French vessel that had been at the center of a bloody battle between France and Spain that changed the fate of the United States of America.

And then the legal maelstrom began, with GME and Pritchett pitted against Florida and France.

“Treasure Fever”, Jill Neimark, Hakai Magazine