February 4, 2009, - 2:03 pm

The Attack on Profit Extends to Shipwrecks

By Debbie Schlussel
While many corporations, which put their hands out for taxpayer bailouts, are guity of excessive spending and salaries, the attack on profit has gotten out of hand. These days, it even extends to shipwrecks. For-profit companies, according to some archeological pontificators, should stay out of the shipwreck and treasure hunting biz or do it for free out of the goodness of their hearts.
The current controversy surrounds Odyssey Marine Exploration, which discovered the HMS Victory, a vanished English warship that sank in the English Channel during a 1744 storm. The company announced the discovery on Discovery Channel’s “Treasure Quest.”


But archeologists are upset that Odyssey is a for-profit company, which makes money from selling relics it recovers from shipwrecks it discovers. (The company also creates museum exhibits and contributes to many ventures that preserve history.)
The thing is, no government invests (nor should it) in finding these shipwrecks. They only sue to leech the recovery, after a company like Odyssey Marine invests considerable funds and resources and is successful. I’ve written about a previous lawsuit filed by Spain against Odyssey when it found a sunken Spanish ship, off the coast of Florida.
If archeologists–who don’t, themselves, work for free–are so concerned with the preservation of gold coins and other valuable relics, let them invest their own millions and locate them. I doubt any archeologist who invested his own money, then found pots of undersea gold coins, would be in a rush to donate them all to museums “for the common good.”
Odyssey Marine Exploration took the risk, and invested the time and the money. The company should reap the rewards of its hard work.
Bottom line: If you can’t make money on it, you won’t do it.
Take it from me, a person who does a lot of free/pro bono work. It’s not profitable. And there’s usually no incentive to do it.

4 Responses

In my opinion, any digging for treasures or any archaeological work anywhere in the world, should be under some kind of supervision of a higher authority.
Imagine having people like the Somali pirates or Al Qaeda and its affiliates taking possession of a treasure, selling it and funding their terror activities with it.
Moreover, there should be a written agreement between governments and private companies that look for treasures.
Finally, I think any archaeological discovery belongs to the area or the country it was found in. It should remain there on display. It is also a matter of sovereignty and national heritage.
But again, all this should be according to a written agreement, including those discoveries that are made in international waters.
Everybody should be happy and satisfied with the discovery and its consequences.

Independent Conservative on February 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Its human nature. People usually do nothing for free and if they do, they usually want something in exchange for it. No human being is completely altruistic. Most people are not cut out to be saints.

NormanF on February 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Who the hell else would be able to bring the resources needed to explore these places. The equipment these guys use COSTS A LOT OF MONEY! Look at the modern stuff they use and the risks involved in the deep. Hey they got the guts they SHOULD GET THE GLORY and the money.
Check out a Clive Cussler book. The fellas at NUMA are serious bad asses.

samurai on February 4, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Al queda don’t have the brains nor inclination to do something as worth while and skilled.

samurai on February 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm

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