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Mysterious historic artefacts to be X-rayed to reveal their secrets

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The X-ray and analysis of objects including those recovered from historic shipwrecks and archaeological sites will take a major leap forward thanks to a £150,000 grant from The Wolfson Foundation.

The grant to Historic England for high power and high resolution X-ray equipment offers exceptional potential for analysing objects which are covered in thick concretions, or hard concrete-like matter, to a much higher degree of detail.

The funds will enable Historic England to replace and upgrade equipment in a large, walk-in X-ray facility that is at the centre of Historic England’s archaeological assessment, analysis and conservation work.

This can accommodate large objects and a moveable X-ray tube – much higher powered than typical systems – which allows X-rays to penetrate heavily corroded objects. It plays an essential assessment role, providing a complete, cost-effective diagnosis of condition; informing the best possible treatment for each object and revealing details obscured by deposits or rust.

The equipment, to be based at Historic England’s scientific and archaeological analysis centre at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth, will greatly contribute to both Historic England’s own research work and those of its partners.

This will include exciting projects such as the scanning and analysis of artefacts recovered from the excavations of the Dutch East India Company vessel, the Rooswijk, which is a protected wreck site.  This project is a collaboration between RCE (The Cultural Heritage Agency of The Netherlands) and Historic England. The Rooswijk sank on the treacherous Goodwin Sands, off Kent, in January 1740 while outward bound for Batavia (modern-day Jakarta) with trade-goods including silver coins. Many objects are covered with concretions which could require the intensity of the new equipment.

It will also greatly improve the analysis of Roman artefacts as it can penetrate the build-up of dirt and debris around the object, without harming it.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “This generous investment will place Historic England at the forefront of heritage X-radiography for many years to come. With this new technology, we will be able to analyse, conserve and better understand many more objects recovered from historic shipwrecks or excavated from archaeological sites.  We are very grateful to The Wolfson Foundation for their support to this vital grant.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of The Wolfson Foundation said: “We are excited to support this important piece of equipment – bringing together Wolfson’s longstanding interests in science and heritage. The beauty of X-ray technology is the way in which it reveals hidden secrets of the past as well as helping with conservation. We are particularly delighted to be supporting the heritage sector at this challenging moment for us all.

For more information about the work of Historic England visit their website by clicking here.

Marine Life & Conservation

BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series – Deep-Sea Stories From a Shadow Diver: a conversation with Richie Kohler

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A series of conservation educational podcasts from Future Frogmen, introduced by Jeff Goodman.


Deep Sea Stories From a Shadow Diver: a conversation with Richie Kohler. 

This episode of the Blue Earth Podcast is a conversation with Richie Kohler. He’s an explorer, technical wreck diver, shipwreck historian, filmmaker, and author.

Richie was featured in Robert Kurson’s incredible book “Shadow Divers ”. It’s a thrilling true story about Richie and John Chatterton’s quest to identify the wreck of an unknown WWII German U-boat (submarine), 65 miles off the coast of New Jersey. They dedicated six years of their lives attempting to identify the wreck.

Richie has travelled the world and explored many deep wrecks, including the Andrea Doria, Titanic, and Britannic. He’s the author of “Mystery of The Last Olympian” about the Britannic.


Richard E Hyman Bio

Richard is the Chairman and President of Future Frogmen.

Born from mentoring and love of the ocean, Richard is developing an impactful non-profit organization. His memoir, FROGMEN, details expeditions aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s famed ship Calypso.

Future Frogmen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and public charity that works to improve ocean health by deepening the connection between people and nature. They foster ocean ambassadors and future leaders to protect the ocean by accomplishing five objectives.


You can find more episodes and information at www.futurefrogmen.org and on most social platforms @futurefrogmen.

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Marine Life & Conservation

New Fisheries Act misses the mark on sustainability, but what now?

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A better future for our seas is still beyond the horizon, says Marine Conservation Society

The UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act, the first legislation of its kind in nearly 40 years, will shape how the UK’s seas are fished for years to come.

The Marine Conservation Society, which campaigned for amendments to the legislation throughout its development, is disappointed by the removal of key sustainability amendments and by the removal of a commitment to rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring.

The charity has committed to pushing the UK Government to go further than the framework which the Fisheries Act sets out, with greater ambition for the state of UK seas.

Sandy Luk, Chief Executive of the Marine Conservation Society said: “UK Government and devolved administrations must act urgently to deliver climate and nature smart fisheries under the new Fisheries Act. This is a key condition if our seas are to recover to good health. The UK Government removed key amendments from the legislation while making promises on sustainability and the introduction of remote electronic monitoring. We will continue to hold the government to account over these promises.”

“I’m pleased to see the recognition of the important role fisheries play in our fight against the climate emergency.  However, even with a climate change objective in the Act, actions speak louder than words. We must get to work delivering sustainable fisheries management, which will have a huge benefit to our seas, wildlife and the communities which depend upon them.”

The Fisheries Act has become law against a backdrop of the ocean’s declining health. UK waters are currently failing to meet 11 out of 15 indicators of good ocean health and over a third of fish in UK waters are being caught at levels which cannot continue into the future. Whilst the legislation failed to address some of the more pressing issues facing UK seas, including overfishing, there is still an opportunity to affect change in the years which follow.

Sam Stone, Head of Fisheries at the Marine Conservation Society said: “The Fisheries Act marks the start of a new era of fisheries management in the UK, but the next two years will be critical in defining what this looks like. The new Act has some good objectives, but we now need to come together to make sure it really delivers the on-water change that is desperately needed for ocean recovery.

“There is genuine opportunity to create fisheries that deliver for coastal communities and for the environment, but it means moving away from ‘business-as-usual’. The UK and devolved governments now have the powers to move forward with progressive new management in their waters. That means proper incentives for low impact fishing, proper monitoring of catches and proper commitments to sustainable fishing.

“In the short term, the four nations must work together to make impactful changes, starting by addressing the UK’s most at risk fish stocks. Recovery plans are needed for our depleted stocks, including new catch limits, selectivity and avoidance measures, protection of vital habitats and fully documented catches. Rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras on larger vessels throughout the UK should be top of the agenda if future policy is to be as well informed as possible.”

For more information about the Fisheries Bill and the Marine Conservation Society’s work, visit the charity’s website.

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