By Ashley Lemke
Chair, ACUA

ACUA is committed to education, training, and public outreach about underwater cultural heritage, the tangible and intangible aspects of human culture that are submerged. These include well known underwater sites such as shipwrecks and their accompanying artifacts and unique histories. Shipwrecks fascinate people all over the world and provide captivating stories and are popular dive sites (scuba, snorkeling, and free diving) – but removing parts of wrecks or objects from them breaks the chain of evidence that archaeologists and historians needs to tell their stories, it also damages the vessels themselves and the objects recovered when not properly conserved. ACUA is passionate about protecting our shared past and preserving it for future generations – and counter to all these goals are salvage operations and the private sale of these objects. Earlier this year, ACUA was notified of an auction called, “Items Salvaged from the Shipwreck of RMS Carpathia”. The RMS Carpathia was a passenger ship launched in 1902 – most famous for its role in rescuing survivors from the RMS Titanic. Carpathia was sunk in 1918 by a German U-Boat. This ship, its history, and its artifacts reveal details of some of the most important events in the early 20th century, and salvage operations have left the site stripped, with artifacts in private collections. The ACUA works to urge everyone to help preserve these sites and understand the value of scientific investigations and how they differ from salvage or treasure hunting operations. 

For more information, see attached letter sent from ACUA to the auction house, and the link to the UNESCO 2001 “Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage

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