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Diving Deeper Shorts: Maritime Heritage

Episode 16 (Nov. 17, 2011)

HOST: Today on Diving Deeper Shorts, we revisit our interview on maritime heritage from September 2009 with Dave Alberg from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Let's listen in.

HOST: Dave, can you expand a bit more on what is meant by maritime heritage?

DAVE ALBERG: Maritime heritage is a way to connect the oceans back to citizens of our country and really to people all around the world - connect them back to the oceans, connect them on a personal level so that they walk away with a better understanding of the role the oceans play in their daily lives and just as importantly the role that their daily lives play in the future of our oceans. And it's a way to connect to an audience that might not normally be interested in ocean issues in a way that can sometimes be very personal and very powerful.

HOST: Why is it important to preserve and study these resources? What do we hope to gain from our research and knowledge?

DAVE ALBERG: Well, I think a couple things. One is with any historical project, at the end of the day it helps us better understand ourselves. Hopefully by looking at the past it helps us to better understand where we sit today and where we may be going in the future. But in terms of the broader picture, I think what's really significant about maritime heritage resources and certainly the role that the study and promotion of maritime heritage resources plays within NOAA is that it helps people come back to the ocean. It helps connect them to the ocean. People that may not have ever seen the ocean, people that may not ever plan on being near the ocean, people that live in the interior of the country.

HOST: Thanks Dave. I never thought about the storytelling aspect that really lies out there for maritime heritage, that's great. How do we find shipwrecks? Are they typically found while we are looking for something else on the sea floor or are there missions that go out to look for a specific shipwreck?

DAVE ALBERG: I think it's a little bit of both. And the classic example of the approach where we're looking for a particular shipwreck would be the Monitor or the Titantic, we knew roughly where these shipwrecks were and many people were involved, in some cases, for many years trying to track down and locate that particular shipwreck knowing approximately where it was, but involving generations of people trying to track it down.

So there are shipwrecks that are found that way and then there are shipwrecks that are found through accidental means I guess and that could be through surveys of ocean bottom which are conducted by NOAA or other people. In many cases we get information very informally from fishermen and from divers who are either recreating or working in areas where they come across data on hangs, where they're hitting something on the bottom with their fishing gear, or in the case of divers where they've found shipwrecks or objects on the bottom, and often times those things lead to terrific partnership opportunities where the Sanctuary Program has gone in and helped pull back the curtain so to speak by providing resources and expertise to help uncover the real mystery of what the shipwreck might be or more about its history.

That's all for today's Diving Deeper Shorts, where we highlight a few minutes of your favorite Diving Deeper episodes.

Want to learn more? Go to and select the September 2009 podcast archive to listen to the full interview with Dave Alberg on maritime heritage.

You can catch our next episode in two weeks.