Updates from Aqua Quest

A special Independence Day

July 4, 2014

On this Independence Day, Aqua Quest International gives a special thank you to the many who helped us through the last two months.
As we reflect on this very special Holiday, we say to the families and friends in America, Honduras and many other countries; thank you all.
To Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, Senator Marco Rubio, Vice President Joe Biden, Congressman Gus Bilirakis and their staffs as well as the many other Lawmakers and leaders who helped us, we say thank you and we can say with certainty that our political system is in fact a functioning well oiled machine when a common goal is in sight.
To our friends in the media who helped shed light on the events of the last two months we say thanks.
To the Honduran leaders, judicial system and our special friends on the Moskito Coast and Municipality of Ahuas, we say thanks.
God bless the United States of America, a beacon of freedom for all to appreciate!

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Aqua Quest Crew Freed!

June 26th, Puerto Lempira, Honduras

It has been determined by an appeal court vote of 3-0 that Captain Robert Mayne and the crew of the Aqua Quest committed no crimes and on June 26th they were released from their prolonged unlawful detainment in Honduras.

It's a great day for the United States of America, Aqua Quest International and Honduras.  Aqua Quest International has had supreme confidence that at the end of the day, the appeal court in Honduras would look at the facts and rule in our favor and that day has come.

We give thanks to many for the unwavering support that we have gathered throughout this ordeal and in particular, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and his staff who latched onto this like a pit bull for Justice since day one. We would also like to thank Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Vice President Biden, all of whom contributed.

After returning to Tarpon Springs, Florida and spending some time with family and loved ones, we look forward to putting this unfortunate incident behind us and moving ahead with this Honduran project and the many other large projects we have on deck. These include one with Dr. Eugene Lyons, which we think may be three times as large as the Atocha treasure ship that Dr. Lyons helped Mel Fisher find a few decades ago.  We also have our current projects on the East Coast that we are looking to move on before the storm season can kick into gear.

We will soon be back out at sea and we thank all for their assistance and support.

Photo: Horeb Bulambo

Photo: Horeb Bulambo

Internationally Acclaimed Filmmaker Michael McCabe Joins Aqua Quest International, Inc.

November 6, 2013

Captain Robert Mayne, the President of Aqua Quest International Inc., is pleased to announce that Michael McCabe, internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker has joined the Aqua Quest Board of Advisors and is currently engaged in several Aqua Quest field investigations.

McCabe, a native of Woodstock, New York, who is currently based in New York City, is recognized as a fashion photographer (ELLE magazine) and well traveled photographer and filmmaker (This is Congo). Robert Mayne believes that “Michael’s ability to capture and document action and adventure in a dangerous field environment has a good fit with Aqua Quest’s world-wide undersea exploration and adventure projects.”

Recently McCabe returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he completed a documentary film titled, “This is Congo”. This film focuses on issues that have plagued and continued to plague the Congo – the plight of child soldiers and the illicit and violent black market mining industry. In one chilling film clip three child soldiers hold McCabe and his film crew at gun point with their Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Michael has produced and filmed two short documentaries titled, “Mother Grain” and “Street Waves.” For “Mother Grain” the film team traveled to remote regions of Bolivia to document the difficult life of Quinoa farmers. The film “Street Waves” follows surfer and activist Maui Goodbeer as he fulfills his quest to get inner city kids away from gang riddled streets of Miami by teaching them the sport and mindset of surfing.

Recently, Michael has joined the Aqua Quest crew on three film projects. These projects are the search for the remains of a sunken seventeenth century Spanish Galleon in the Florida Keys, the salvage of a valuable copper ore shipwreck off North Carolina, and a mystery sunken structure offshore of South Bimini Island, on the Great Bahama Bank. Captain Mayne and Michael McCabe believe that the Bimini Project has the potential to write a new chapter in the quest to unravel some of the mystery that surrounds the sunken Bimini rock formations – most notably the mystery of the Bimini Road. 


RV Aqua Quest Returns to Florida After Extended Period in Northeastern U.S. Waters

November 5, 2013

Aqua Quest searches 40 square miles of sea floor for 19th century wreck.

The RV Aqua Quest has returned to Florida waters after two months of research and contract work in waters off the North-East United States.

Captain Robert Mayne, the Master of the Aqua Quest, reports that early in the 2013 salvage season that his vessel and crew has conducted a remote sensing survey of approximately 40 square miles of sea floor off of the New York – New Jersey coast. The target, based on good archival information is a mid- nineteenth century sailing vessel that was lost with a large cargo of gold bullion and gold coins. The survey was conducted using a state-of-the-art side scan sonar unit. A number of promising targets were recorded that will be diver-verified later this year.

In order to fund the time consuming and costly search for lost historic shipwrecks Aqua Quest has conducted several associated contract projects with coastal engineering corporations. These projects include remote sensing surveys pursuant to beach re-nourishment projects in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The hardest hit beaches were Long Island, and Coney Island New York, and the Jersey Shore. The Aqua Quest also located and replaced a number of oceanographic data collection buoys in offshore Maryland waters. 

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‘Deep Sea Salvor Encounters Potentially Deadly Shark Swarm’
Aqua Quest International, Inc.

November 2012

Salvaging cargo from a commercial 

shipwreck in international waters off the Carolina Outer banks, diver Robert Mayne was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of swarming Sand Tiger Sharks. Over the past several months the Research Vessel (RV) Aqua Quest and crew divers have been engaged in the recovery of a cargo of copper ore lost off the capes in 1922.

Captain Robert Mayne has been commercial diving for thirty-five years and has encountered a ‘shark or two’ in his career, but never a school of this size and magnitude. Sand Tigers are considered an over-fished and endangered marine species! Mayne also knew that the Sand Tiger species are potentially dangerous and there have been several dozen unprovoked Sand Tiger attacks in the past.

Mayne stated that ‘he had just entered the water to descend to the shipwreck site at 120 feet when he was surprised by the sharks. ‘I was only down about twenty feet when a nine foot long ‘Sand Tiger’ shark approached me and rolled over as it swam toward my left swim fin. – When you see a potentially dangerous shark of this size, getting that close, your heart rate increases, and you know you better get out of the water.’

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Mayne captured his initial shark footage on a ‘GoPro’ underwater camera affixed to the top of his dive mask. ‘I recorded the first approach by the shark and that’s my swim fin in the picture – this was truly a once in a lifetime encounter.’ Mayne’s videos are now running on YouTube and the Aqua Quest International Facebook pages as well as the Aqua Quest International web site.

When the curious shark swam off Mayne decided to swim to the bottom and ‘prep’ equipment for the continuing excavation. ‘That was a mistake’ Mayne said, ‘as soon as I reached the bottom I looked around and the lone shark was now part of a growing school of Sand Tigers, then when I look up there were literally hundreds of sharks between me and the Aqua Quest.’ When another shark swam in for a ‘closer look’ Mayne fended off the shark with a swim fin, then decided to abort the

dive and head for the surface. As Mayne made his way to the surface he observed that the ‘Sand Tigers’ were feeding on the schools of small fish that inhabit the shipwreck site – ‘My fear now was that one of the feeding sharks would take a bite out of me and ‘chum up’ the water – I wasn’t on the bottom long enough to need a decompression stop – but if I had a serious shark bite, I could possibly ‘bleed out’ before the Coast Guard could get a ‘chopper’ out to get me to a hospital.’

The GoPro footage shows the magnitude of the shark swarm as Mayne picked his way through the sharks to the surface. Back on board the Aqua Quest, Mayne lowered a ‘GoPro’ camera on a cable back into the water to capture more of the shark swarm on video. The four-plus hours of video shows the sharks – estimated at a thousand - swimming and feeding between the Aqua Quest and the shipwreck site. Mayne stated that ‘the sharks were acutely aware of the ‘GoPro’ camera and made countless passes at the camera, rubbing up and bumping the camera but never biting the intruder. 

Over four daylight hours and into the night the camera captured the schooling sharks and their unique behavior! The Aqua Quest crew could hear the sharks as they broke the surface and continued to feed and perhaps breed. Captain Mayne believes that the footage will be of interest to Marine Biologists, particularly to the Mote Marine Laboratory shark experts in Sarasota, Florida. Mayne believes that he and his crew observed behavior that may be unique to this shark species; the crew recorded as much information as they could in the time available – in the face of inclement weather in the wake of Hurricane Sandy the Aqua Quest was forced to break off their investigation and head for port in North Carolina. Mayne was particularly impressed with the behavior’ exhibited by the sharks” ‘They behaved almost like dolphins exhibiting ‘breaching behavior’ – coming almost full body, and half jumping out of the water. We believe that this behavior may not have been observed in this magnitude by the ‘Sand Tiger’ species!’ 



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Underwater Search Expert Rick Horgan Joins Aqua Quest International, Inc. Team as Executive Vice President

October 24, 2012

Aqua Quest International announced that remote sensing legend Rick Horgan has jointed the team as an Advisor for Remote Sensing.

Rick Horgan owns and operates Sonographics, Inc., a Marine Geophysical Services company specializing in oceanographic surveys and providing side scan- sonar searches and magnetometer surveys. Mr. Horgan is a pioneer in the sonar industry for over 30 years. In addition to performing sonar searches, sub-bottom profiling, side-scan surveys, and magnetometer surveys. Horgan is often contracted by the Navy to search for downed private and commercial airplanes or helicopters. Horgan is best known for finding John Kennedy Jr.'s plane off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, the wreckage of the plane carrying baseball star Roberto Clemente, and locating parts of the space shuttle Challenger.

“We are delighted to have Rick Horgan helping us locate the shipwrecks we salvage, as we believe his professional credentials and experience in this field are second to none,” said Capt. Robert Mayne, President of Aqua Quest International. “With Rick Horgan, we know we will find what we are after.” Mr. Horgan and Captain Mayne have been working together since 1994.

Mr. Horgan is a veteran of the U.S. Navy where he began his career distinguished career as a specialist in the use of magnetometers, side-scan sonar, and sub-bottom profiling systems. Following his service in the navy Rick began to perform remote sensing investigations for government agencies, and ocean engineering firms, and founded his own remote-sensing services corporation, Sonnographics Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Rick has worked in the field with Aqua Quest archaeologist Bob Baer on projects that include the S.S. Copenhagen shipwreck, and the discovery of important sunken cultural resources in the Florida Keys, National Marine Sanctuary in the Kirby’Rose Admiralty Arrest Area. Rick has also located downed satellites for NASA, and sunken ships and aircraft for the United States Navy, and United States Coast Guard. Most recently Rick has worked with Bob Mayne and DR. Robert Baer in the Bimini Islands, Bahamas, carrying out research on a sunken site associated with the famous and enigmatic Bimini Road sunken site.


Dr. Eugene Lyon Joins Board of Directors of Aqua Quest International, Inc. 

October 15, 2012

Aqua Quest International announced that Dr. Eugene Lyon has joined the Company on the Board of Directors.

Dr. Eugene Lyon is best known for his research in the Archives of the Indies which enabled Mel Fisher to find the famous sunken treasure ships Nuestra Senora de la Atocha and Santa Margarita.

Dr. Lyon has received the grade of Official of the Order of Isabella from King Juan Carlos of Spain ad the grade of Commendador in the order of Christopher Columbus from the President of the Dominican Republic. The City of St. Augustine has given him its highest honor, the Order of La Florida, and the Florida Historical Society has bestowed upon him the Jillian Prescott Award for lifetime service to Florida History. Dr. Lyon publications include "The Enterprise of Florida" and "The Search for the Atocha." He has written five National Geographic articles, including two cover articles. Dr. Lyon directed the St. Augustine Foundation for 14 years.

"We are honored to have Dr. Lyon guiding us with his experience and the benefit of his unparalleled research," said Aqua Quest President Captain Robert Mayne. "Dr. Lyon is another world leader in archaeological exploration and salvage and he will be invaluable to us."

Dr. Gene Lyon is a noted and well respected shipwreck historian and archivist. Dr. Lyon received his Ph.D from the University of Florida and later published his doctoral dissertation on Pedro Menendez de Aviles with the University of Florida Press, entitled, The Enterprise of Florida: Pedro Menendez de Aviles and the Spanish Conquest of 1565-1568. 



Dr. Robert H. Baer Joins Aqua Quest International, Inc. as Director of Archaeology and Cultural Resource

October 11, 2012

Aqua Quest International Inc. announced that Dr. Robert H. Baer has been appointed Director of Archaeology and Cultural Resources.

At a recent presentation at Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida, Captain Robert Mayne, President of Aqua Quest said: "Working with Dr. Bob Baer, we can be sure that the archaeological methodology used on all of our shipwreck sites will be carried out to the highest standards - and our underwater investigations will be quickly and professionally published." Mayne added, "We are pleased to have Dr. Baer aiding us in our continuing field operations. Bob Baer has excellent professional credentials and experience in this field and has performed archaeological investigations in U.S. and International waters."

Dr. Baer replied, "I cannot emphasize how much I have enjoyed working with the Aqua Quest team on our two current shipwreck projects, and I encourage everyone to follow our progress at the Aqua Quest International web site. When you evaluate the combined credentials and past individual performance of this team, the more you become impressed with the potential of AQI to perform shipwreck exploration - research and archaeological recovery at the highest level."

Dr. Baer is a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA). He has authored books, monographs and over 150 cultural resource assessments and archaeological reports. Baer's Florida shipwreck research is documented in two of his recent books; The Last Voyage of the San Miguel de Archangel, and Anomaly 27: The Last Voyage of the S.S. Copenhagen - both available on-line at 'Amazon' - 'Barnes & Noble' - and at the AQI book store.

Bob Baer was educated at the graduate level in Professional Archaeology and Heritage Management at the University of Oxford, UK, and the University of Leicester, UK. He holds an undergraduate diploma in English Local History from Oxford University and an MA in International Studies from the University of Miami, as well as a doctorate in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University, where he wrote his dissertation on Cultural Resource Management and Public Policy.

Bob Baer has performed archaeological services for Mel Fisher's, Treasure Salvors, Key West, Florida, and Sea Hawk Deep Ocean Research, Tampa, Florida. Bob was the contract archaeologist for the 'Jupiter Historic Shipwreck Project', where he documented the history of the San Miguel de Archangel ship-wreck salvage. For many years Bob worked with Coastal Management and Ocean Engineering Corporations where he performed cultural resource investigations pursuant to beach and shoreline restoration projects.


Photo: Michael McCabe

Photo: Michael McCabe

 Personal Message from AQI President

Capt. Robert H. Mayne, Jr.

Ladies and Gentleman:

The Aqua Quest Team believes that conventional ‘Treasure Hunting’ is a dysfunctional business model.

While experienced treasure hunters may discover and recover valuables beneath the sea, the history and significance of these cultural resources are often destroyed when standard archaeological guidelines are ignored. Also, the profitability of shipwreck salvage is enhanced when ‘cultural considerations’ - publications, museum, displays and education - are part of corporate philosophy.    

Aqua Quest International has developed a unique business model. We have developed five different profit centers that are designed to protect and enhance archaeological heritage, yet generate economic reward, the foundation of our ‘free market’ economy:

First, we will salvage modern cargo ships. We are presently working on a shipwreck in 118 feet of water lost in the early twentieth century while transporting a cargo of high grade copper ore. We believe that there may be 4,000 tons of ore with a current market value of $1,300 per ton. We have recovered around 8,000 pounds and have filed a Federal Admiralty claim on the site. We have also located several other valuable shipwreck sites.

Second, we intend to research and film the history of these ship-wrecks for the purpose of producing documentary films. We have a combined list of about twenty, ‘Age of Steam’ shipwrecks, as well as shipwrecks from the ‘Age of Sail’. Also, in keeping with our dedication to historic preservation, archaeologist, Dr. Robert Baer will produce a monograph or book that will document the archaeology and history of each site.  

Third, we will conduct educational programs and sponsor programs in cultural tourism. Dr. Baer and our remote sensing specialist Mr. Rick Horgan will conduct archaeological field schools that will take students into the ‘field environment’ where they will learn the basic principles of underwater archaeology, artifact conservation, and principles of remote sensing. Field courses will also be offered for qualified divers as a ‘cultural tourism’ program.

Fourth, we support and encourage education. We have formed a cooperative alliance with Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne, Florida. Aqua Quest personnel and instructors from FIT's Ocean Engineering Program will deploy and test student designed and operated remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on board the RV Aqua Quest. Aqua Quest International has been approached to design and teach an advanced ‘archaeological diver’ course to graduate commercial divers.

Fifth, we will develop museum displays for both ‘private’ and ‘public’ sector clients. We are now finalizing an agreement with the Government of The Republic of Honduras to locate and excavate shipwrecks in Trujillo Bay, Honduras. The law in Honduras does not allow private ownership of historic artifacts; however they will allow AQI to retain 75% of excavated artifacts for museum and to be used in the production of documentary films. A Tarpon Springs ship-builder has constructed a replica ‘Galleon’ that is currently being used in the ‘cultural tourism’ industry. AQI and a team of investors have commissioned blueprints, from the Florida based ship-builder, for a 120-foot replica Galleon designed as a traveling museum under joint sponsorship of Aqua Quest and Honduran Cultural Agencies.

The five AQI profit centers are designed to enhance and complement our corporate philosophy and goals. We have a ‘world class team’ and I believe we will revolutionize Historic Shipwreck Salvage.

Very truly yours,

Capt. Robert H. Mayne, Jr.