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Archaeologists identify sunken 1681 Spanish shipwreck off Panamanian coast Email

Friday, 15 May 2015 10:51

More than three years after uncovering a shipwreck buried in the sand off the Caribbean coast of Panama near the mouth of the Chagres River, ongoing analysis and interpretation has led archaeologists to identify the shipwreck as Nuestra Señora de Encarnación. 

A colonial Spanish nao, or merchant ship, Encarnación was one of several ships that sank in 1681 when a storm engulfed the Tierra Firme fleet en route to Portobelo, Panama from Cartagena, Colombia. Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann, research faculty and chief underwater archaeologist with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, leads the research team.

"This truly is an exciting and intriguing shipwreck," said Hanselmann. "The site basically consists of the entire lower portion of the ship’s hull and cargo in the hold, which includes a wide variety of artifacts: wooden barrels, over 100 wooden boxes containing sword blades, scissors, mule shoes, nails, ceramics, and other material culture, such as lead seals that are all that remain of perishable cargo."

Read more: Archaeologists identify sunken 1681 Spanish shipwreck off Panamanian coast

Shipwreck company suing state over 'treasure' linked to Blackbeard: $14M in contract dispute Email

Wednesday, 13 May 2015 11:52

RALEIGH, North Carolina — Nearly 300 years after the pirate Blackbeard's flagship sank off the North Carolina coast, a shipwreck-hunting company and the state are battling over treasure linked to the vessel — but they're fighting with legal filings, not cutlasses, and the treasure is $14 million in disputed revenue and contract violations.

The Florida-based company, Intersal Inc., found little loot when it discovered the Queen Anne's Revenge almost 20 years ago, but it eventually gained a contract for rights to photos and videos of the wreck and of the recovery, study and preservation of its historic artifacts.

The state, meanwhile, has created a tourist industry around Blackbeard and his ship since the vessel's discovery in 1996. That includes exhibits at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which attracts about 300,000 visitors a year, according to the Queen Anne's Revenge website. The artifacts, such as a 2,000-pound cannon, also go on tour to other state museums. The state also posts photos and videos on websites and social media sites.

Read more: Shipwreck company suing state over 'treasure' linked to Blackbeard: $14M in contract dispute

INAC requests support for UNESCO Email

Monday, 13 April 2015 17:46

PANAMA: The director of the National Institute of Culture (INAC), Mariana Núñez, untied the current administration of the decisions made by the previous government in relation to the project 'identification, retrieval and rescue Galleon San Jose'.

Postcard used by UNESCO to promote the Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage

Among the decisions taken during the management of María Eugenia Herrera (INAC) and Sandra Cerrud (National Directorate of History and DNPH Heritage), was granted a permit to the company Marine Research del Istmo SA (imdi) for rescue and sharing wreck of the galleon sunk in the Gulf of Panama in 1631, with the greatest treasure until then sent to Spain from the colonies.

Read more: INAC requests support for UNESCO

Tampa treasure hunter Odyssey Marine gives up control to Mexican firm Email

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 13:02


By Robert Trigaux

Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration, the treasure-hunting business whose bottom line can resemble the shipwrecks it is so good at finding, hopes to salvage its own future in a company overhaul.

Odyssey unveiled a complex financial deal that gives up control of the company to a Mexican iron and coal company. It's a sign of how precarious Odyssey's financial predicament has become.

Case in point: Odyssey on Monday said it lost $5.2 million in the fourth quarter, $26.5 million for all of 2014.

Worse, the sea exploration company's publicly traded shares dropped well below $1 last year and lately have hovered near 60 cents. In a business that requires lots of capital — it's expensive to search for small things deep under the ocean — Odyssey's need for more investor money has proved a constant struggle.

Read more: Tampa treasure hunter Odyssey Marine gives up control to Mexican firm

Bruce Silverstein avoids sanctions in emeralds case Email

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 12:42

Maureen Milford, The News Journal

Wilmington lawyer Bruce L. Silverstein will not be sanctioned for bad-faith litigation in the case of a phony sunken treasure in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King of the Southern District of Florida denied a sanctions case against Silverstein brought by a Key West treasure salvage company, saying the company failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that Silverstein knew of "corrupt criminal conspiracy."

Neither was it proven that Silverstein acted in bad faith in the case or was willfully blind to a fraud involving the fabricated discovery of thousands of emeralds on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet, in what lawyers describe as highly unusual, King referred the matter to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida "for such action as in his discretion he deems appropriate."

"I've not seen that done in a civil case in a long, long time, if I've seen it done," said Thomas Reed, a professor emeritus at Widener University School of Law.

Read more: Bruce Silverstein avoids sanctions in emeralds case

Archaeologists condemn National Geographic over claims of Honduran 'lost cities' Email

Thursday, 12 March 2015 22:13

More than two dozen archaeologists and anthropologists have written an open letter of protest against the “sensationalisation” of their fields, with one accusing National Geographic of reverting to “a colonialist discourse” in announcing researchers had found two city-like sites in the deep jungles of Honduras.

They also say National Geographic has ignored decades of research that suggests Honduras was home to a vibrant chain of kingless societies, which merged qualities of the Maya to the north with other people’s less stratified, more equal cultures.

The scholars criticize National Geographic and the media for what they describe as the aggrandizement of a single expedition at the expense of years of research by scientists and decades of support from indigenous people of the dense rainforests in Honduras’ Mosquitia region.

John Hoopes, a signatory and professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas, said that National Geographic had shown “a disrespect for indigenous knowledge”. The expedition was co-coordinated by two American film-makers, National Geographic and Honduras’ national institute of anthropology.

Read more: Archaeologists condemn National Geographic over claims of Honduran 'lost cities'

An embarrassment of riches: UK museums struggle with archaeological archives Email

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 14:21


By Emily Sharpe

Museum professionals and archaeologists met in London today to discuss how to tackle the growing issue of what to do with archaeological archives in the UK as institutions rapidly run out of space to store them. In fact, many museums have stopped acquiring these types of collections, even though excavations continue to be big business.

“We have archival material in museums that are becoming increasingly inaccessible because of the lack of specialist archaeology curators and we have museums that are ceasing to collect this material which has created a backlog that has nowhere to go,” said Duncan Brown, the head of archaeological archives at English Heritage, who was one of the speakers at the Museums Association’s conference “Dig It! Museums and Archaeology”, held at the British Museum on Friday. A 2012 report on the subject, by the consultant Rachel Edwards for the Society for Museum Archaeologists and English Heritage, stated that there are more than 9,000 un-depositable archives in the UK.

Read more: An embarrassment of riches: UK museums struggle with archaeological archives

Gorham treasure hunter may lose salvage rights to Cape Cod shipwreck Email

Sunday, 01 March 2015 13:02















A California businessman who last year partnered with Gorham treasure hunter Greg Brooks on the ill-fated salvage of a shipwreck off Cape Cod has ended the partnership.

Don Rodocker, CEO of Seabotix, a San Diego producer of remote-operated vehicles, said this week that he saw “no way to go forward” after revelations that Brooks’ chief researcher forged documents intended to prove there was treasure aboard the SS Port Nicholson.

“No one is ever going to fund him again,” Rodocker said of Brooks, who has been salvaging shipwrecks for three decades but has yet to find anything of substantial value.

Rodocker declined to say how much money he invested in Brooks’ enterprise.

Read more: Gorham treasure hunter may lose salvage rights to Cape Cod shipwreck

Legend of the Valle Valle Treasure Email

Wreckdiver's Blog
Sunday, 26 October 2014 16:55

By Tommy Vawter

In the dark and deadly underworld of narco-trafficking down here in Central America, where ruthless people of limited education and meager beginnings are transformed almost overnight into multi-millionaires, to the point that they no longer count the cash money that is flowing in. They have to weigh it because counting it all takes too long. 


It seems almost inevitable that sooner or later, some of these modern day pirates of this multi-billion dollar industry are going to burry some of their ill-gotten gains in secret locations.

I am sure that the reasons for hiding some of their wealth varies from one drug lord to another. Some hide their treasure for old age retirement, some to us as an emergency escape in case they are being hunted by new drug lords wanting to take over precious territory and drug transportation routes, and some to save in case the authorities are moving in on them and they need to buy their way out of jail or prison.

Read more: Legend of the Valle Valle Treasure

Aqua Quest Plans Return to Honduras Email

Wreckdiver's Blog
Monday, 20 October 2014 23:33

Y’all remember about 5 months ago we were talking about the crew of the Aqua Quest, and their miss-adventure down in Honduras and how the Capitan and her crew ended up spending some 52 days in the squealer of a sorry excuse of a prison located in the department of Gracias a Dios (Thank God), in La Mosquitia region of northern Honduras on trumped up weapons smuggling charges.

To his credit, Capt Mayne did not cave to the pressure to pay extortion money to some local officials, but they paid a heavy price in term of the loss of their freedom, and the constant worry of friends and family back home.

The six Americans were finally released from prison on the 26th of June, and then headed home to Tarpon Springs, Florida. On the July 2nd, the Aqua Quest and her crew sailed into their home port to a hero’s welcome. 

Well, it is often said that us Treasure Hunters are a different breed, and that many are cut from the same cloth as other Explorers and Adventurers that have gone before us. This is defiantly the case for Capt Mayne and his crew. As I am writing this, Capt Mayne is back in Honduras meeting with local officials in several municipalities, signing exclusive 5 year agreements to continue with his salvage operation of ancient Mahogany logs in the Mosquitia region of northern Honduras.

While Bob and his crew have made many friends in Honduras as a result of their efforts to assist the native Mosquitia Indians with some profit sharing from the Mahogany Log project and the promise of other Humanitarian aid. I would venture to say that in the back of his mind he must be thinking that he has also made a few enemies during their ordeal earlier this year.

Northern Honduras is one of the most stunningly beautiful places that I have had the pleasure to visit, and I fully understand the desire to return. On the 12th of August TreasureWorks temporarily pulled the plug on our plans to set up an operation in northern Honduras, in part because of security concerns. In the meantime, we have moved down to Panama, but the desire to return to Honduras burns bright.

Honduras is also one of the most dangerous places on the earth, and the UN has rated Honduras as the most deadly country in the world for the last four years with an annual murder rate of 90.4 per 100,000 residents. In part due to narco-traffickers who often operate with the support of some corrupt government officials, but mostly due to gang related violence exported from Los Angeles, California prisons and brought on by mass poverty.

Capt. Mayne has not yet announced when he and his crew will be returning to Honduras.

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