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Divers Alert Network Executives Explore Santa Margarita Shipwreck Trail

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KEY WEST, Florida -- As the crew of Keith Webb’s Blue Water Ventures Key West wrapped up the month of August on the trail of a rich shipwrecked galleon, two executives of DAN, the internationally prominent Divers Alert Network organization, joined them for a day of underwater exploration.

DAN Programs Training Coordinator Patty Seery and her associate, Business Member Liaison Samara Merrill, joined the BWVKW team for numerous dives along a “ghost” trail of artifacts left in the wake of the 1622 Fleet treasure galleon Santa Margarita, discovering an assortment of small artifacts, including pottery pieces and a heavily encrusted ship’s nail—an important clue when searching for the scattered remnants of an ancient wooden ship.

DAN, headquartered in Durham North Carolina, is a non-profit medical and research organization dedicated to the safety and health of recreational scuba divers, and is associated with Duke University Medical Center. DAN initiated the use of emergency oxygen first aid programs, is the largest distributor of emergency oxygen equipment for treatment of dive injuries, and was the first to initiate insurance for specialized recompression or other medical or evacuation services required in the event of a dive accident.

Blue Water Ventures CEO Keith Webb is committed to optimal safety aboard his vessels; his crewmembers participate in ongoing dive safety training. Over the past four years, Blue Water Ventures, joint venture partners of Mel Fisher’s Treasures, has discovered approximately 16 million in treasures and artifacts from the Santa Margarita, whose remains are widely scattered and buried in the deep sands of the Florida Straits, within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Before Seery and Merrill made their first dive of the day, Captain Dan Porter explained the various electronic sensing and excavation tools used for the project, and the protocol of marine archaeological and conservation methods that are employed. Later, he commented on the enthusiasm and proficiency of the DAN visitors. “Patty and Samara were interested in every facet of the operation, from the adventure, to the mechanics, to the science. Once they were orientated to our procedures, they jumped in and worked as crew members, up to and including diving and working in the Santa Margarita’s famous ripping currents—and eating lunch with their gear on, ready to dive again.”

Following a day on site, the DAN visitors returned to Key West for a final dinner at Salute Restaurant on the beach before departing for North Carolina the next day. The BWVKW team continued with its work, ending the month of August with discoveries of clay and gold, an eight-and-a half inch length of gold chain—and something of a miracle considering its tumultuous history—an intact earthenware bowl, measuring approximately nine inches in diameter.

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