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Right On The MARC

August 15, 2006

I have had the great fortune over the last five years of teaching underwater archaeological mapping techniques to sport divers. Many students took the class to prepare to work as avocational assistants to professionals. People from all walks of life have taken the class. Far from feeling apart from these folks, I have always felt great kinship with them because of a shared enthusiasm and a profound sense that what we do is amazingly, for lack of a better word, cool.

A few years ago I traveled down to Pompano Beach, Florida to help train a group of divers that later became known as Marine Archaeological Research & Conservation, Inc. (MARC). They too share a sense of gratitude to the powers that be for the opportunity to discover and record submerged cultural resources. Their sense of wonder and excitement about underwater archaeology is palpable. This manifests itself in the best possible manner, a desire to share their experiences with the general public.

MARC has progressed far beyond their initial training and mapped numerous wrecks, conducted remote sensing surveys, recorded and edited video used in nationally televised broadcasts, successfully nominated a wreck as Florida’s eighth underwater preserve, been designated as the South Florida First Response Team for the State of Florida Division of Historical Resources, and gone on to train other individuals and groups to do the same important work in other areas of the country. They may be the most productive avocational underwater group in the US.

I’m bringing them to your attention because MARC has recently posted drafts of two new projects on their website found here:

http://www.marinearchaeology.net/

One wreck is the alleged “Arratoon Apcar” thought to be a tramp steamer, and the other is a possible nineteenth century wooden sailing ship. The write up on their website shows photos, drawings, and geo-referenced site plans created by MARC and submitted to the National Park Service.

Other avocational groups, students, and professionals (including this writer) should take note of MARC’s attitude toward publishing their work. It isn’t a necessary part of what they do; it is the heart of what they do. To that end their work is distributed in print, video, and in our view most importantly, via the Internet.

— Full disclosure: I am now a long distance member of MARC but did not participate in most of the excellent projects displayed on their website.

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