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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

Dive Training Blogs

How Scuba Diving can help you overcome physical and mental challenges

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This International Disabilities Day (December 3 2022) PADI is reminding the world of the healing aspects that the ocean (or any body of water) can provide us all and how important of a modality it is for helping those with physical or mental challenges improve their wellbeing. From simply being within close proximity of it or diving beneath the salty surface for an underwater adventure, the ocean is also healing.

Regardless of your age, ability, or even limitations, the ocean can benefit us physically, emotionally and even spiritually. This is why PADI is on a mission to make those benefits accessible to all, launching their Adaptive Techniques Diving Course in the hopes that all of humanity can experience the full transformational power the ocean offers us.

While many are more familiar with traditional therapies, whether it be diving, mermaiding or freediving, people around the world have been forever changed by connecting with the water – conquering mental or physical perceived limitations.

There are an estimated one billion people on the planet that have a physical and/or mental disability – imagine the power that diving and immersion can have on this population if awarded the opportunity.

PADI’s history is replete with people whose lives have been transformed by connecting with the water because they were able to experience and explore the underwater world through PADI programme and certifications. PADI’s approach to diver education has always been inclusive and is a key pillar to their Pillars of Change.  Everyone who meets prerequisites is welcome to join the global community of 29 million+ certified PADI Divers.

PADI created two courses that focus on increasing awareness of varying diver abilities and exploring adaptive teaching techniques to apply when training and diving with physically and mentally challenged divers: the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty and the PADI Adaptive Support Diver course.

These courses further expand Instructors’ and Divemasters’ abilities to be student-centered and prescriptive in approach when adapting techniques to meet diver needs. Here are the various ways PADI helps those with disabilities overcome all their challenges by connecting them with water:

1. Improved Muscular Movement, Light Sensitivity and PTSD Symptoms

A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found, “veterans with spinal cord injuries who underwent a four-day scuba diving certification saw significant improvement in muscle movement, increased sensitivity to light touch and pinprick on the legs, and large reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.”

2. Lifts Your Mental State and Mood

Did you know that the ocean air can literally lift your mood?  “The sound and vision of the ocean lift our mood,” says consultant psychiatrist Dr Arghya Sarkhel. “The touch of sand and the smell of a seaside breeze leads to relaxation. On a biological level, this audio-visual stimulus incites our parasympathetic nervous system—that activates ‘rest and digest’, as opposed to ‘fight or flight’,” he says. Now scientists are quantifying the positive cognitive and physical effects of water and the improved sense of physical health and well-being.

Equally diving into the therapeutic benefits that diving can provide is Jeffery Puncher, Director for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottowa. He is currently developing a virtual reality diving programme to help his patients find relief from stress and anxiety–using calming scenes of coral reefs and the swaying seas along with the soothing sounds of bubbles beneath the surface. This programme is currently being used with medical students, residents and faculty, with the goal of growing it to be adopted nationwide to help also support the psychological health of first responders.

3. Provides You with a Sense of Peace

Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, has done extensive research on the ocean’s unique ability to induce a state of what he calls the “Blue Mind” in human beings. Blue Mind is a mildly meditative state characterized by calmness, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. Nichols states that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and heal us on a deep level.

4. Enhanced Physical Movement

Being in the water allows you the opportunity to experience a feeling of flexibility and freedom that those with disabilities would rarely get to experience on land. This is because on land the muscles become restricted by the force of gravity. But in the water, that sensation drifts away and is replaced by the freedom to feel the freedom of movement.

5. Confidence and Control

The freedom of enhanced physical movement in the water also provides a sense of increased confidence and control. They can explore beneath the surface just like able-bodied people can do, which equally increases their own self-belief and feelings of empowerment.

6. Anxiety Relief

Those with disabilities who equally suffer from anxiety can find tranquility beneath the surface. By having to focus on your breath and being in the moment, all of the mental stress that can come with having a disability is no longer top of mind and instead allows for an escape in which you can truly enjoy the moment.

Find out more at www.padi.com

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Gear News

Scubapro Winter Promo: free gift!

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Buy an EVERDRY 4.0 dry suit and receive a K2 Light undersuit set for free!

Divers can look forward to the cold-water season this winter, as SCUBAPRO is offering a free K2 Light undersuit set (top & pants) to all scuba enthusiasts who purchase an EVERDRY 4.0 neoprene dry suit by 15 January.

The EVERDRY 4.0 is a high-quality dry suit made from compressed neoprene. It combines the slim fit, comfort and flexibility of a wetsuit with the warmth and tightness of a dry suit.

The K2 Light Set is the ideal undergarment for neoprene dry suits. Its light grid plush material reliably holds the warmth where you need it in cold waters. The Everdry’s elastic wrist loops and heel strap suspenders keep sleeves and pants in place under the suit. Available in men’s and women’s sizes.

A combination that turns your cold-water lake into a hotspot!

For more information visit the Scubapro website.

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Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies. Price NOW from just £1195 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including: Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage 7 nights in shared cabin 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees Free Nitrox Booking deadline: Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price. Alternative departure airports available at a supplement. Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

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