By Ashley Lemke
Chair, ACUA

Happy new year! I want to welcome everyone to 2021 as well as to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development! The Science We Need For the Ocean We Want. Ocean science combines a variety of fields and ACUA is happy to support the addition of archaeology and the importance of underwater cultural heritage into the Ocean Decade framework. There will be a number of virtual and live events as well as calls for action throughout the Ocean Decade so stay tuned to OD itself, as well as ACUA and its partner the Ocean Decade Heritage Network for ways to get involved.

Despite the momentous events that took place in 2020 and the continued presence of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the ACUA has maintained strong working relationships with the Society for Historical Archaeology and many international and local organizations (see my post from last year outlining our organizational partners. ACUA is also very happy to announce that Diving with a Purpose has been added to our ranks as an Institutional Associate Member – we are so happy to have them as well as all of our individual and institutional members.

Although our annual meetings were virtual this year, they were very productive and fun and it was good to see our members discuss their research and well as outreach programs, education, and compliance work. There were fantastic talks such as the “Intentionally Transformational: Supporting the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development through a Conversation on Inclusion” panel which was organized by ACUA members Amanda Evans, Dave Ball, and Athena Trakadas, featuring ACUA Vice Chair Jennifer McKinnon.  The ACUA Graduate Student Representatives organized a panel on “Digital Public Outreach and Education in Underwater Archaeology” which generated synergy between underwater archaeologists working in many different sectors and regions. If you missed the 2021 Virtual Conference, you can still register and view the papers and presentations here.

I also want to take this opportunity to announce a new award! The ACUA Diversity., Equity, and Inclusion Student Travel Conference Award! Each year a winner of this award will receive $1000 to defray the costs of traveling to the annual SHA conference, the student must be presenting a paper or poster on an underwater or maritime archaeology topic and the goal is to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion while encouraging student involvement at meetings. Diversity is inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, and socioeconomic background. Applicants that self-identify as diverse are encouraged to apply. The first award will be presented for the 2022 conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology in Philadelphia, PA.

For 2021, the ACUA is focused on education, outreach, working to champion and protect underwater cultural heritage across the globe. You can look forward to a number of fascinating blog posts this year, including profiles of our new members, an update on mentoring, a call for new Directors, and even a take on how underwater cultural heritage relates to archaeological sites on the moon!

Be sure to check out Deep Thoughts each month for updates. If you have any questions about ACUA or want to learn more about underwater archaeology, reach out to me at

Diving deep to explore the past

Lemke on the bow of her research vessel S/V Blue Traveler in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, mooring buoys in the background are marking the bow and stern of a shipwreck.

Learn more about me here
And my research in other Deep Thoughts posts

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