Greedy for a wreck

Swashbuckler or savior? Who's who in the battle for deep-sea artifacts? Those murky questions underlie "Treasures of the Deep," part of National Geographic's Mysteries of the Deep series, which investigates shipwreck expeditions and their sometimes questionable motivations. It's one thing if you're Robert Ballard, probing the 3,000-foot depths of the Mediterranean and documenting artifacts from a 1st-century Roman trade ship. It's another thing if you're Mel Fisher, who was able to lay claim to a Spanish galleon off Florida in 1985 -- and its $400 million-plus cargo -- because it was in international waters.

Famed for his work on the Titanic, presenter Ballard looks at the impulses for plumbing sunken sites, from outright banditry to scientific efforts, raising some important ethical issues along the way.

If explorers are motivated by personal greed and don't have the proper training, they can destroy history rather than preserve it -- and Ballard says no one has the right to wreck history for personal gain. Hear! Hear!

-- Shermakaye Bass

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