How do you find and recover the incalculable treasures of the deep? How do you pinpoint the locations of century-old shipwrecks and assess the pristine quality and value of their cargo? And then, finally, how do you gingerly pry artifact and jewelry alike from the ruins and bring them safely up thousands of fathoms from the ocean floor to your recovery vessel for preservation and safe transport?
The job can be done by nothing less than cutting-edge technology and constantly upgraded research, which includes collaboration with historians and archaeologists around the world. The money, time, and effort are worth it because of the potential mother lode that can be loaded into the museums and bank vaults of the world.
As cited by the BBC News, a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) gives a conservative estimate of three million shipwrecks at the bottom of the world’s oceans. Another report by search-and-recovery company Blue Water Ventures International, Inc. (OTCPK:BWVI) says that the potential value of these shipwrecks can be pegged in the billions of dollars.
There was a time a couple of centuries ago that intrepid adventurers sailed to little-explored waters and sent their divers to scout for signs that a shipwreck was nearby, e.g. the fragment of a statue or a thousand-year-old jar that looked like it belonged to a bigger collection.
Centuries of encasement in rock and deep-sea pressure can make an act of retrieval extremely difficult, if not impossible. And before you can get to that point, the clues that you had picked up from legend, ancient diaries, and the descendants of the sailors have to be verified from more historical sources, like the historical documents of the Spanish Empire, survivor testimonies or court-martial records.
BBC says that the first order for deep-sea explorers is the launching of remotely-operated vehicles that can submerge themselves into depths that are not possible for scuba divers. The deepest human dive has been recorded at 332 meters. That remote vessel should have sonar scanners, magnetometers and other instrumentation that can accurately determine that a shipwreck has been found.
BWVI has a three-pronged approach that has made its explorations in the North Atlantic and Caribbean successful in recovering cargo from several valuable wreckages such as the Santa Margarita, a 17th-century Spanish galleon carrying gold bars and thousands of natural pearls; the 1715 Fleet Wrecks with its gold and silver coins; and the San Jose, another Spanish vessel carrying loot from the New World. Recently recovering a shipwreck lost in 1838 off the coast of North Carolina, in the United States. It has recently expanded its operations to begin exploration of 19th-century Packet Steamships off the East coast of the United States.
Before it sets sail on any expedition, BWVI makes sure its research about a vessel or the site of a wreck is authentic and accurate. Information is gleaned from primary sources such as historical records, royal maps, and diaries of admirals and other important leaders of the time. It corroborates its findings with the leading international historians, archaeologists, and oceanographers with impeccable credentials.
The Marine Magnetics Overhauser Dual Sensor Gradiometer, the Cesium Vapor Magnetometer (G-882) and an Edgetech Side Scan Sonar System which can detect shipwreck debris at large distances. This instrumentation can function in both shallow and deep water and spot signs of shipwrecks like anchors, chains, and cables. Objects as small as a five-inch screwdriver can easily be pinpointed. All this combined equipment can map the ocean floor with a disciplined pace that leaves no sea rock unturned.
BWVI’s combination of diligent scholarly research, scientific innovation, and highly experienced personnel ensure that the company remains at the forefront of marine exploration.
Written by Anna Reyes