Shipwreck recovery and search for sunken treasures as a lucrative business

By @chelean on
Tourists walk near a shipwreck in the coastal village of Pegeia, Cyprus February 28, 2016.
Tourists walk near a shipwreck in the coastal village of Pegeia, Cyprus February 28, 2016. Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Treasure hunting has been touted a billion-dollar industry today, offering huge opportunities given the valuable items in shipwrecks and the availability of advanced technologies to locate them. According to the estimates from UNESCO, there are about three million shipwrecks at the bottom of the ocean across the world. Although only 3,000 of these ships may contain valuable treasures — according to Sean Tucker, founder and managing member of Galleon Ventures — the industry’s potential is undeniable.

Sunken treasure industry investment increased

Investment in the industry of treasure hunting and shipwreck recovery has increased in recent years, Tucker told CNN in 2012. Treasure ventures have attracted interests from hedge funds, private equity firms and rich individuals, which enable exploration companies to utilise high-end tools like the devices oil firms use to identify new drilling opportunities.

Thousands of the shipwrecks are believed to hold valuable metals and stones such as gold, emeralds and coins dating back hundreds to thousands of years ago. One of the most valuable shipwrecks to be recovered is the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a galleon travelling to Spain in 1622. When its wreck was found, 40 tonnes of gold and silver, and 70 pounds of emeralds were recovered, according to The Daily Telegraph. Aside from treasures, historical artefacts are important recovery items. They will help fill the missing pieces in history, including the story of the ship.

The case of Pulaski

Pulaski, a luxury steamship that sank in 1838, is one of the most popular shipwrecks in the world. It is also considered as one of the most dramatic and deadly maritime disasters in the United States. More than half of its passengers died, including some of the most prominent and affluent families in the southeast. Historians said recovering the Pulaski would be a big deal.

“I will say it’s one of the more significant disasters in American maritime history. It was the ‘Titanic of its time’ in terms of the people who were on it. It was a who’s who of the colonial South, and the loss of life was significant. Entire families were lost,” said Dr. Joseph Schwarzer, director of the North Carolina Maritime Museums, as reported by Charlotte Observer.

Among the fatalities of Pulaski was New York congressman William B. Rochester. Six members of the Lamar family, one of the richest families in the southeast at that time, also died.

Blue Water Ventures International Inc. (OTCMKTS:BWVI) is working on an exploration site off the coast of North Carolina, which is believed to be the wreck to the Pulaski. The project is in partnership with Endurance Exploration, which jointly holds the admiralty claim to the wreck site and has the legal rights to salvage and any treasure there. Endurance sought out BWVI because of its specialisation in historical artefacts recovery.

As travellers during that period are known to take large sums of money, even their entire fortune, BWVI and Endurance expect to find valuable coins, jewellery and purser’s safe in the wreck site. So far, BWVI divers have recovered Spanish and American coins dating up to the year that Pulaski went down. They also found what is believed to part of the boiler system on the ship, which matches the descriptions from the survivors’ account that one of the boilers exploded while the other one split up the side.

“It’s a 30-foot by 60-foot pile of copper, from the boilers to the copper walls that surrounded the boilers. They are lapped onto each other. We’ve got bolts, rivets, brass fittings and lots of 5-inch-thick fire bricks, which would have been on the floor. There’s no wood left and nothing of the structure,” said BWVI President Keith Webb.

Finding the ship’s bell that should have the name Pulaski etched on it would be a proof that the BWVI and Endurance Exploration have found the missing ship. Numbers on the copper plating of the boilers, or any item that has Pulaski on it, would also help confirm the identity of the sunken ship. While BWVI divers are yet to find any of them, Webb believes it is indeed the wreck of the Pulaski.

“A lot of history is going to be coming off this vessel,” he added. Webb hopes to find the necessary proofs historians are seeking in the next two years. The companies are planning to expand their survey area within the first half of this year.

Article taken from a press release sent for consideration.

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