Spain Scrambles to Claim Abandoned Underwater Sites

Posted on October 12, 2010


From a article, Spanish Armada Sets Sail to Claim Deep-Sea Treasure:

Spain has sent an armada into waters around its coasts to seek out hundreds of shipwrecks in an attempt to head off a US marine exploration firm [Odyssey Marine] accused of plundering Spanish property from the seabed.

Over the past month, more than 100 suspected shipwrecks have been located by the Spanish navy in the Gulf of Cádiz, considered one of the world’s richest hunting grounds for underwater treasure.


Three Spanish navy vessels, including two minesweepers, and 100 navy personnel are devoting two months to the project, which will end in mid-November.

Spain’s navy said it had recovered evidence from potential wreck sites which was being analysed by archeologists. It said the sites could contain anything from crashed aircraft to ancient settlements.

The Naval Museum in Madrid and the National Subaquatic Archaeology Museum in Cartagena will receive much of the material recovered from the seabed.

The article does not give a factual basis for the assertion that Spain’s project is in response to an attempt by Odyssey to explore the Cadiz sites. My guess would be that the project is less a direct reaction to actions by Odyssey and more a result of Spain’s realizing that they need to be a little more proactive in preserving/recovering available resources.

The article then goes into the Black Swan case, which we’ve been following here on CPAL, but the bottom line is that the appeal is fully briefed, and the parties are waiting to hear whether there will be oral arguments or if the court will rule on the pleadings.