National Geographic : 1965 Jan
Scanning the ocean from the air, spotters seek signs of a sunken ship. When they spy a dark patch, they radio word to the launch Sea Dragon, which turns toward the exact location, where it will drop a marker. One factor aids aerial reconnaissance: Ships' cannon, ballast stones, and decayed timbers usually produce a darker pattern in marked contrast to the color of the surrounding sand. Gold plucked from the ocean: every man's dream of discovery. But the author put a foundation under his dream. "I spent 18 years in research," says Mr. Wagner. "I had a crew of hard-working divers and three boats crammed with gear. And, above all, I had phenomenal luck." Vacuum-cleaning the sea floor, a diver with suction pipe scoops up debris. Another searcher (not visible) examines the material ejected by the pipe. Later, men will rein spect the heap of tailings to be sure nothing valuable has been overlooked. The under water hunters drew exact plans of each ship site-as archeologists do in land excavation -before disturbing any part of the wreck age. Rare clear water here appears blue; in the photograph on the opposite page, green algae cloud the scene.