The waters surrounding Florida abound with shipwrecks. Prior to the Spanish exploration of the New World, the Indians used the waterways around Florida for transportation. After the colonization of the area by the Europeans, ships were used as the primary means to move goods and passengers until the advent of the railroads. Rich in coral reefs and subject to frequent, large storms, many ships sank in these waters, taking with them all manner of historical artifacts.
These wrecks preserve moments in time and can teach us a great deal about our past. While the state and Federal governments fund research institutions to identify and map these wrecks and recover and preserve their contents, the number of wrecks is far greater than what the paid staff can adequately catalog. This is where volunteer divers come in. Here's what Florida Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History has to say about them.
A good example of the way in which volunteers make a difference in underwater archeology is the SS Copenhagen. previously missing its entire bow section. More than a year after designation as a Florida Shipwreck Preserve in 1994 local divers found a bow that they suspected might be that of the Copenhagen. Working with the state, a nonprofit group, Marine Archaeological Research and Conservation, Inc., (MARC), identified the bow as matching the rest of the ship. MARC continues to be one of the most active volunteer organizations working in the field of shipwreck preservation and archeology.
The opportunities to volunteer are endless, as are the benefits. Individuals with interest and expertise in diving, history, archeology and shipwrecks have made a great contribution to the recreational and educational opportunities and historic preservation of Florida and its rich legacy.
In previous WOGs we have seen how volunteers help the poor, educate children and bring comfort to the sick. This story appealed to me because it shows how others are taking time and making an effort to share these experiences with the rest of us. Acts of kindness are all around us and extend far beyond what we do for the disadvantaged and the infirm.
There are many sites that describe these efforts. Here are just a few.
National Park Service Southeast Archaeoligical Center
NPS Submerged Resources Center
University of West Florida
Florida State University Research in Maritime Archaeology
For more information on why we WOG and a list of previous WOGs visit this post. We recommend reading at least two WOGs a week as an antidote to the endless torrent of gloom, unpleasantness and conflict that comes from the newsmedia and "entertainment" industry. Hopefully they will provide an inspiration for you to be a part of the World of Good.