Transforming Heritage Practice in the 21st Century: Shipwrecks and Sport Divers: Florida’s Programs in Participatory Preservation Underwater
Public efforts to support proper use and preservation of Florida’s historic shipwrecks began in earnest in the late 1980s. One of the most successful and popular programs developed by the state is the Underwater Archaeological Preserve system. As part of this process, state archaeologists begin by working with sport divers and local governments to establish the Preserve. From this point forward, archaeologists utilize the submerged sites to facilitate hands-on, non-disturbance survey and documentation trainings for these and other groups. Using the same framework, the Florida Public Archaeology Network continues to engage the public’s interest in Florida’s shipwrecks and other submerged cultural heritage sites. This chapter describes the Submerged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship (SSEAS) program and the Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar (HADS), and how these programs are intended to encourage divers to become active in monitoring wreck sites and making their own discoveries, in the process producing information instead of simply consuming information. While initial results have been encouraging, they also provide a lesson for orienting collaborative programs to the needs of the audience, rather than only to the needs of archaeologists.