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Treasure hunters to dive legendary shipwreck first discovered by fugitive

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Gold hunters are heading back to the wreck of a ship that sank off the coast of South Carolina nearly 160 years ago, reviving an effort begun in 1987 by a colourful salvage diver who recovered millions from the site before ripping off his partners and disappearing.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, a deep-ocean exploration company based in Florida, left port late last week to recover gold that could be worth tens of millions of dollars that went down with the SS Central America and now rests a mile-and-a-half under the sea some 160 miles off the Palmetto State’s coast. The sunken treasure was first discovered by Tommy Thompson, and has been the subject of a protracted legal battle — not to mention a best-selling book. Thompson, who sold salvaged gold bars and coins to a California mint for $52 million before going on the run, remains a wanted man after failing to appear in an Ohio court in 2012. The 62-year-old seasoned sailor and diver is accused of cheating his team of nine technicians of at least $2 million, and they have been fighting for their cut in court for years.

If Odyssey is successful, it and the technicians could see a major payday.

“From what our research team has uncovered, along with the data collected by researchers for the court-appointed receiver, there is potentially a substantial amount of gold left on the site, along with some other interesting artifacts,” said Mark Gordon, the company’s chief operating officer and president, in a statement. “As importantly, there is a tremendous amount of scientific and archaeological knowledge that we will document from this deep-water site. It is exciting for us to be a part of the next chapter of this great American story and we look forward to sharing the results of our work.”

Estimates of how much gold was on the ship when it went down have ranged as high as 10 tons. Less than 5 percent of the site was investigated by Thompson’s team in the late 1980s and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia ruled last May to appoint a receiver to supervise resumption of the recovery mission. Gold was valued at about $19 per ounce in 1857; today it sells for around $1,300 an ounce. Bob Evans, of Recovery Limited Partnership, the court-appointed receiver that hired Odyssey, told Bloomberg there may be up to $86 million of gold still lying on the ship.

“We expect the project to move forward quickly since we have access to all the previous records and images, which provide us with a great overview of the shipwreck,” Gordon said in a statement. “This has allowed us to begin planning operations that will focus on the most interesting and prospective areas of the site after we have completed a pre-disturbance survey and high-resolution photomosaic.”

The wreck lies too deep for humans to dive, but that won’t stop the salvage operation. Using its research vessel, the Odyssey Explorer, the company will use an 8-ton remotely operated vehicle (ROV) called Zeus to scan the ocean floor while the operation is directed by an archaeologist and project manager thousands of feet away.

“The SS Central America is one of the greatest shipwreck stories of all time,” Odyssey’s CEO Greg Stemm said in a statement. “We’re very familiar with mid-19th century paddlewheel shipwrecks, as well as the range of artifacts that are likely to be on the site … The SS Central America is less than half the 15,000 feet depth of the SS Gairsoppa, from which we successfully recovered nearly $80 million in silver over the past two years.”

The ship, originally launched in 1852 as the SS George Law, was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama route between New York and San Francisco. When it sank on Sept. 12, 1857, killing at least 425 of its 477 passengers, it was carrying a large consignment of gold ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. The sheer size of the loss was so large that it triggered public confidence in the economy to fall, leading to what’s known to historians as the Panic of 1857. The ship was immortalized in the best-selling book, “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea.”

Michael Frevola, a maritime attorney in the case, said that in 2012 he had a copy of the 1999 book on his desk during an interview with FoxNews.com. The 507-page national best-seller details Thompson’s trip to the bottom of the Atlantic, but the ensuing legal fight is worth an entirely separate book, he said.

“It’s at a point that a book could be written about this is not unfathomable,” Frevola said in 2012. “It’s a good read.”

Thompson, meanwhile, remains wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service, which began using digital billboards in Ohio and Florida last year to locate the fugitive treasure hunter and his 45-year old assistant, Alison Antekeier, whose arrest was ordered by a judge after they failed to appear in court in August 2012.

Thompson reportedly grew up in central Ohio and spent much of his adult life in Columbus. Antekeier also lived in Columbus until she moved with Thompson to Vero Beach, Fla., where the couple has been living as recently as 2012.

 

Source: www.foxnews.com

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Diving Redefined: Introducing NovoScuba

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novoscubaAttention all underwater enthusiasts, mermaids, and those who just really enjoy wearing fins! Brace yourselves for the splashiest news in the industry: NovoScuba has burst onto the scuba diving scene like a seal on a beach ball!

Move over, PADI, SSI, SDI, NAUI, RAID, and whoever else is lurking in the depths, because there’s a new fish in town!

But seriously, what gives? Why does NovoScuba think they can swim with the big fish? Are they secretly training dolphins? Are their wetsuits made of magic? Stay tuned as we uncover the mysteries of this underwater revolution!

The team at NovoScuba isn’t just your average squad – we’re a crew of dive store owners, managers, trainers, and pros. We’ve danced with the sharks and wrestled with the currents, so when it comes to the diving industry’s pain points, we’re definitely no strangers. But let’s be real: while existing agencies are stuck in the stone age, we’re here to embrace the 21st century. In a world where even fish have Instagram accounts, the diving industry needs to catch up or sink like a lead weight!

It’s time to challenge a change. Leveraging technology and introducing a breakthrough business model, and digitally native platform, NovoScuba aims to become the most innovative training agency to date.

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Here’s a snapshot of what NovoScuba has up their sleeve for dive pros, managers/owners and students alike.

Owners 

  • Pay as you certify system
  • Fully developed digital course materials in multiple languages
  • No stock required
  • Monthly or annual membership fees
  • Business support and advice FOC
  • 24/7 support. Feedback orientated. Fast response and fast adapting
  • ISO Certified
  • Pain free and low cost transition to NovoScuba
  • Your business, your choice. No exclusivity expected or required
  • Pay in your local currency
  • Our automated system keeps your admin to a minimum. Less time on paperwork cuts costs and gives you more time to focus on your business
  • Co-marketing, advertising and support

novoscuba

Pros

  • Monthly membership fees
  • Intelligent online log book that automatically updates student records
  • One click certifications
  • Flexible training – student-centric/instructor trusted
  • Easy and inexpensive crossover
  • Pause your membership when you’re not teaching
  • Pro insurance / legal support
  • Job vacancy board

novoscuba

Students

  • Modern, relevant course materials
  • Fully developed and interactive digital learning
  • Accessible across any digital platform
  • Instant community and support
  • Monthly subscription granting access to all course materials
  • Digital log book for life
  • Streamlined subscription process – minimum admin

novoscuba

What else symbolises the NovoScuba dedication to excellence?

In an era where every other company boasts about being as green as a broccoli smoothie, it’s easy to tune out the noise of eco-friendly claims. But hold your seahorses! NovoScuba isn’t just another fish in the sea of greenwashing. We’re not just dipping our toes in the sustainability pool – we’ve cannonballed straight into it! B-Corp pending, we’re not just talking the talk; we’re doing the fins-on-the-ground work. With a net zero impact that even Captain Planet would applaud, our conservation efforts aren’t some distant pipe dream. Nope, we’re getting our hands wet right in our own diving communities, because let’s face it, saving the planet is a whole lot easier when you can do it in your own backyard – or in this case, your own coral reef!

It’s time to dive into the 21st century and embrace a new, innovative and intelligent training agency. One that fully understands that your success is needed in order for us to succeed. One that is 100% committed to your needs and will grow and adapt in order to keep meeting the challenges of the industry. Welcome to the new age of training. Welcome to NovoScuba – Diving Redefined.

For more information, email info@novoscuba.com or visit www.novoscuba.com.

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Preserving Paradise: Seacology’s Island Conservation Mission

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Islands are not just pieces of land surrounded by water; they are sanctuaries of biodiversity, cradles of unique cultures, and vital components of our planet’s ecological balance. However, these paradises face numerous threats ranging from habitat destruction to climate change. Recognizing the urgency of protecting these fragile ecosystems, Seacology has emerged as a beacon of hope, championing the preservation of island habitats worldwide while empowering local communities. In this article, we are diving into Seacology’s mission, its global impact, and its generous support for key conservation initiatives in Curaçao.

The Seacology Story:

Seacology, founded in 1991 by Dr. Paul Alan Cox (American ethnobotanist), operates on a simple yet powerful principle: conservation through collaboration. Unlike traditional conservation organizations, Seacology adopts a community-driven approach, partnering directly with island communities to address their needs while safeguarding precious ecosystems.

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At the heart of Seacology’s philosophy lies the belief that sustainable conservation can only be achieved by empowering those who depend on the natural resources of their islands. By working hand in hand with local stakeholders, Seacology fosters a sense of ownership and stewardship, ensuring long-term protection for vital habitats.

A Global Impact of Seacology

Since its inception, Seacology has made remarkable strides in protecting island ecosystems across the globe. Through innovative projects and strategic partnerships, the organization has conserved millions of acres of marine and terrestrial habitat, spanning more than 60 countries.

What sets Seacology apart is its holistic approach, which integrates conservation efforts with community development initiatives. By providing tangible benefits such as clean water, education, and healthcare, Seacology incentivizes local communities to actively participate in conservation efforts, forging a sustainable path towards coexistence with nature.

Curaçao: A Jewel in the Caribbean Crown

Located in the crystalline waters of the Southern Caribbean Sea, Curaçao boasts stunning coral reefs, lush mangroves, and vibrant marine life. However, like many island nations, Curaçao faces a myriad of challenges including overfishing, habitat degradation, and climate change impacts.

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In 2024, Seacology’s commitment to island conservation took center stage in Curaçao, where the organization provided generous support for three key initiatives: Reef Renewal Curaçao, Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, and the Queen Conch Hatchery. Additionally, Seacology provided additional funding to advance sustainable fishing practices through educational programs.

Reef Renewal Curaçao

Coral reefs are the lifeblood of marine ecosystems, supporting a quarter of all marine species despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor. However, these invaluable ecosystems are under siege from rising sea temperatures, pollution, and destructive fishing practices.

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Reef Renewal Curaçao, a flagship project supported by Seacology, aims to reverse the decline of coral reefs by implementing innovative coral propagation and restoration techniques. By engaging local communities in reef restoration efforts, Seacology is optimistic that their support will enable Reef Renewal Curaçao to continue their important work revitalizingd amaged ecosystems and fostering a sense of stewardship among residents.

Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao

For millions of years, sea turtles have roamed the world’s oceans, serving as keystone species and indicators of ecosystem health. Yet, these ancient mariners face numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching, and accidental capture in fishing gear.

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In collaboration with Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, Seacology is supporting their efforts to protect Curaçao’s sea turtle populations through research, monitoring, and community outreach. By raising awareness about the importance of sea turtles and implementing measures to mitigate threats, Seacology is aiding Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao to safeguard these iconic creatures for future generations to admire.

The Queen Conch Hatchery

Conch, revered for their succulent meat and ornate shells, are a cultural and culinary staple in many island communities. However, unregulated harvesting has led to depleted populations, jeopardizing both ecological balance and traditional livelihoods.

In Curaçao, Seacology’s support for the Queen Conch Hatchery initiative aims to conserve dwindling conch populations through captive breeding and sustainable harvesting practices. By collaborating with local fishermen and authorities, Seacology is helping to ensure that conch populations thrive while preserving cultural traditions and supporting coastal communities.

The project “Conquer the Future” is investigating the mortality and growth of Queen Conch juveniles, cultured at Curacao Sea Aquarium, after they have been outplanted in the wild. These experiments with small numbers of Queen Conch will take place in both Curaçao (Spanish Water) and Bonaire (Lac Bay). WWF-Dutch Caribbean is the main sponsor of this project, Seacology is the co-sponsor.

Advancing Sustainable Fishing Practices

Fishing is an integral part of Curaçao’s economy and culture, but unsustainable practices have led to overfishing and the depletion of key fish species. Recognizing the need for change, Seacology has provided a grant to the Federation of Cooperative Production (FKUP) to support innovative educational programs aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices.

Through this initiative, Seacology hopes to instill a sense of environmental stewardship among local fishers. The educational programs focus on teaching sustainable fishing techniques, such as selective gear use, seasonal restrictions, and size limits, which help protect juvenile fish and allow populations to recover. Additionally, the programs emphasize the importance of marine conservation, the impact of overfishing on the ecosystem, and the benefits of sustainable practices for future generations.

seacology

By supporting the FKUP, Seacology is helping to ensure that local fishers have the knowledge and resources to adopt sustainable practices. This not only helps preserve fish stocks and marine biodiversity but also secures the livelihoods of fishing communities in the long term.

WWF-Dutch Caribbean supported in 2023 the first round of the sustainable fishing training organized by FKUP in Curaçao. Due to lack of budget at WWF-DC, FKUP has been looking for another sponsor for this training. They found Seacology to fund more training.

A Beacon of Hope for Island Conservation

In a world grappling with environmental crises, Seacology stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through passion, perseverance, and partnership. By empowering island communities, Seacology not only protects precious ecosystems but also enriches lives and preserves cultural heritage.

As we navigate the uncertain waters of the 21st century, organizations like Seacology remind us that the fate of our planet lies in our hands. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, we can safeguard the treasures of our islands and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

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