Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Underwater skills needed to record information about wrecks

Recording information about shipwrecks and other underwater heritage requires specific underwater skills.

Difficulties increase underwater!

Even the simplest tasks can be much harder to completewhen you have water all around you.. Underwater tasks that can be a challenge include:

  • tying a knot!
  • writing on an underwater slate without having your pencil float away!
  • using a tape measure without getting tangled!

Your skills tool kit

Useful skills can include:

  • diving
  • physics
  • chemistry
  • anthropology
  • marine biology
  • oceanography
  • archival research

That doesn't mean that you have to become a qualified Physicist, Chemist, Anthropologist, Marine Biologist, Oceanographer, Historian, Archaeologist and Materials Conservator. But if you begin to record underwater heritage sites you will almost certainly find yourself learning skills from a number of these areas.

Diving qualifications

Of course you must be able to dive in order to get to most shipwreck sites unless they are high and dry on reefs, lying on a riverbank or buried in beach sand.

For a very shallow site you might be able to do some work with just snorkel, fins and mask. Otherwise you will need to learn to use Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). As a scuba diver you can spend more time observing details of a wreck, measuring distances and taking photographs or video footage.

Diving qualifications can be:

  • recreational - when you are diving as a hobby
  • occupational - when you are diving as a professional

To work professionally as a Maritime Archaeologist you would need to obtain certification as an Occupational Diver under Australian Standard AS2299.

Page last updated: 31 August 2012