Treasure Quest - HMS Victory

Article: The New Yorker on the biggest sunken treasure ever found

A lovely long read at the New Yorker, from 2008, describes an (then) incipent dispute between Odyssey Marine Exploration, the company featured in Treasure Quest and the Treasure Quest – HMS Victory Special, and the Spanish government, over a 17 ton haul of silver coins removed from a shipwreck located by Odyssey in the north Atlantic ocean.

Odyssey engages in “commercial marine archaeology”, a practice that (rightly) makes many people uneasy. Odyssey is a listed company and aims to profit from sharing in the treasure retrieved from the wrecks it finds and plunders. They make use of ROVs and sophisticated sidescan sonar technology to sweep the ocean floor for potential targets. The company’s founder and CEO, Greg Stemm, is extensively profiled in this article.

Interestingly, the article refers to exploratory work that Stemm did in the Dry Tortugas in the 1980s. Daniel Lenihan rants about the plundering of underwater resources in this area in his gripping book Submerged. He worked in the region at around about the same time as Stemm was working wrecks there… Later, James Delgado, a colleague of Lenihan’s and author of Adventures of a Sea Hunter, challenged Odyssey’s claim that they are more than just treasure hunters, interested solely in commercial gain:

“The issue is one where the flash of gold and silver obscure or overwhelm the type of careful work that yields treasures of a different sort,” Delgado wrote. “We base our opposition to treasure hunting on the track record of those years of lost opportunities and lost history, and the challenge we issue to Odyssey is to show how they are different.”

Read the full article here. There’s more on this tomorrow…

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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