I don’t quite know how I should feel.
The idea that someone has salvaged a relic, my relic, and that I will never dive on it again, is a strange thought.
The ‘thing’ was rusted metal, fused with rivets and straps creating a three-dimensional work of art, much like a huge olive. if I had wanted to, without my cumbersome gear, I could have fitted inside, like a black lycra bird in a rusted cage. Although the deteriorating metal casing the structure was supporting was quite sharp. It was in less than ten metres of water and was likely wharf or ship debris, a large lantern or buoy perhaps from past times, as it had a large ring at the top as if for hanging it up. My buddy and I came across the ‘thing’ at our favourite site. Having possibly bypassed it many times, we experienced the elation of underwater discovery. More likely though, was that the large seas the week before had unearthed it. We called it our relic.
The shock came when I was walking the dog a couple of years later only a few streets away from the dive site, and saw the ‘thing’. Stark naked and sitting on the manicured front lawn of someone’s house, horridly out of place next to the green snake of a garden hose. Someone had brought it up. Suddenly, after years of coming to terms with a salty caress, it was resigned to live out life as some sort of an awkward garden feature. A talking point for inter-state relatives.
And I understand. I do. It is the same reason people collect shells and rocks and broken china and display them at home. A piece of the past.
Obviously I do not own the relic, I probably didn’t even discover it. But who has the right to say whether something that makes a dive site enjoyable or have meaning is theirs to take? Not to mention the countless ocean plants, and creatures that had set up house on that artificial reef.
It would be like uprooting Sydney and dropping it into the Mariana Trench. Saying, survive that.
But is the ‘thing’ even considered cultural heritage? Or merely rusted rubbish that is better off lifted from the sea which it is contaminating. It is unlikely to be labelled ‘archaeologically significant’, but regardless, now we will probably never know. When most things in this world have been discovered, explored and documented, would someone please let me have just one?
N.b. Having been unable to find any catalogued photos of the ‘thing’, or even its origin, my research continues.