Indiana University team recording 1700s shipwreck sites

April 1, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana University team is working to preserve and document shipwreck sites in the Florida Keys.

The group from the university’s Center for Underwater Science will visit the site of a Spanish treasure fleet shipwreck from the 1700s this summer.

The trip is made possible through an agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will allow the team to work in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for the next five years.

The team will use a method called 3-D photogrammetry to document shipwrecks and surrounding coral. A GoPro camera will be taken all around the shipwreck to get as many angles of it as possible, center assistant director Sam Haskell told The (Bloomington) Herald-Times .

“This can be done in an hour or two,” he said. “We’re getting much better results and saving weeks’ or months’ worth of work.”

The photos are then stitched together to create a 3-D model of the site. The results of this summer’s work will be compared to models created in 2015 and 30-year-old drawings and slides.

“I’ve spent my career protecting these sites as living museums,” said Charlie Beeker, the center’s director. “We’ve learned that the best way to protect them is by bringing people to the sites. Making these sites into parks and reserves is very rewarding work.”

Much of the preservation work in the Florida Keys was done by IU and Beeker, said Matt Lawrence, a maritime archaeologist at NOAA.

“We really want future generations to be able to see shipwrecks in the context in which they lie. It’s much more exciting to see them underwater than, say, piecemealed out bit by bit to museums,” he said.

Tori Galloway, an IU sophomore majoring in anthropology and underwater archaeology, had helped digitize slides from Beeker’s previous shipwreck trips. She will be part of the team surveying the site in June, and will return in July for an internship with NOAA.

Galloway said the creation of these “living museums” is crucial to the overall preservation of the sites for future generations.

“It’s a far cry from the 1960s, when people would come in and just grab whatever they could find. I think people are realizing the importance of these cultural resources,” she said. “And realizing that cultural resources don’t have to be moved or sold to be worth something.”


Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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