The Sea Reaper has returned from a successful four-day expedition to the site of the Santa Margarita. On the first day, while Captain Josh Abt and MRR member Jimmy Parker were recovering gold filigree beads with the air lift on board the Sea Reaper, Dan Schweizer and Captain Mike Perna were on board the Sea Hunter, the survey vessel of Sea Hunt Surveys International, LLC, conducting a full day of magnetometer surveying to the west of the famed Fisher family site.
Capt. Dan Porter and MRR member Jimmy Parker
recovering a gold bead while using the air lift.
This survey effort will be a big part of MRR’s execution of the 2018 Operational Plan on the Margarita site. The powerful combination of recovery and survey is one strategic goal MRR is striving to accomplish. This week, MRR is expecting the delivery of a new, technologically advanced surveying tool—an EdgeTech 4125 Side Scan Sonar. The side scan will be used on a number of projects for MRR this year, and on the Margarita site the plan is to use the high resolution setting to search for the missing bronze cannons that have not been recovered as of yet. MRR’s marriage of advanced technology and a strong work ethic will help better achieve as much of the 2018 Operational Plan as possible.
Survey Vessel Sea Hunter on the Margarita site.
On the third day, using the air lift like a paint brush after lightly dusting the overburden off the hard and porous bedrock bottom, divers Rob Hill and Gavin Buck started recovering silver coins from areas far below the surface of the seafloor. These coins are historic artifacts that would have been lost to human kind forever. On the last day of air lift excavation, MRR members Art Schweizer and Jimmy Parker were at it again. The two teamed up on one of the two air lifts and recovered a musket ball deep in a solution hole.
A solution hole is a depression in the seafloor that formed tens of thousands of years ago as the result of natural geological processes. When the wreckage of the Santa Margarita was dispersed in the violent hurricane in 1622, some of the artifacts and treasure fell into these depressions. Normal propwash excavation will not penetrate the solution holes effectively to ensure that cultural remains are removed, so the relatively small air lift is being used to remove rubble and sand from the holes, as well as any shipwreck remains.
Capt. Dan Porter with MRR divers Rob Hill and Josh Abt
recovering a gold bead using the air lift.
This was a great trip for MRR, and the new air lift system is working very well. The crew has returned to Key West’s Three D Boat Yard to continue the final touches on the second excavation vessel, Seatrepid.