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Exploration

Un’elegia Baltica: le isole Åland e il relitto di “Nederland”

Il nostro poeta italiano della subacquea, affascinato dalla subacquea tecnica Andrea Murdock Alpini – o è il contrario? – tesse il racconto di un relitto Olandese affondato nelle acque del mar Baltico di ritorno dalla Russia. Murdock è andato fin lì per raccogliere gli indizi di questa storia e ricostruirla in chiave lirica, la bettolina è affondata più di cento anni fa in condizioni misteriose. Cosa deve fare un sub ‘naufrago’ se non raccontare le sue storie per immagini e parole?

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Testo, video e fotografie : Andrea Murdock Alpini .Header Image: Flavio Cavalli che illumina il lato di dritta del relitto del Nederland

Per leggere questa storia in inglese, clicca qui: A Baltic Elegy: Åland Islands and the Wreck of Nederland

Credo che siano passati una dozzina d’anni dal mio ultimo viaggio nel Mar Baltico.
Contandoli mi accordo che sono di più. In effetti sono una manciata in più: era l’estate di quattordici anni fa. Allora, da studente di architettura avevo organizzato un viaggio in Danimarca e Svezia alla ricerca di quelle composizioni scandinave che, per il rapporto che stringono con il paesaggio, sembrano essere nate dal lapis d’un antico greco.  

Dove il muro è paesaggio, di questo ero andato in cerca. Non mi separavo mai dal mio quaderno d’appunti, dalle dispense che preparavo per il viaggio ma soprattutto dalla mia macchina fotografica reflex con cui scattavo fotografie rigorosamente in bianco e nero a 400 ASA che, ogni tanto tiravo a 600 o anche 800. Mi piaceva vedere la grana della pellicola una volta che la foto era stampata. Non ho mai apprezzato le superficie lisce, così come le atmosfere o le persone, ho sempre preferito la ruvidità del mondo.

Qualche mese fa sono partito per Stoccolma, Svezia.
Là, di nuovo mi aspetta la nave che, questa volta mia accompagnerà fino a Mariehamn, la maggiore città delle isole Åland. Una volta approdato sulle isole finlandesi sarà compiuto il mio ritorno nel Mar Baltico. Me ne sono distaccato quasi tre lustri fa, e da allora non l’ho mai scordato. 

Questa volta non mi basterà bagnare l’involucro del mio corpo, le sue spoglie, vorrei scendere là sotto, fin dove mare e vento vorranno lasciarmi andare. Lo so, l’autunno bussa alle porte e il periodo è sbagliato, fa niente. Torno da studente di relitti con una passione per la ruggine, caligine. E già so che ritornerò. 

Dopotutto i relitti altro non sono che sepolcri di equipaggi, di storie di mare o di ingegneria e manifattura navale che il Mare custodisce nel tempo. 

Il porto di Mariehamn alle Åland

Arrivati all’imbarco della Viking, la nave che mi porterà alle isole Åland, inizia a schiarirsi il cielo. Sorge il sole e la luce stempera i colori, la temperatura resta la medesima. Una volta a bordo guadagno il decimo ponte, chiamato Sun Deck, un miraggio. Ancor più oggi. Il cielo si è fatto nero come il giorno di Pasqua e in lontananza strati di nubi riflettono il loro umore sui canali di Stoccolma. 

Alle sette e quarantacinque minuti le cime scivolano sulle bitte. 

La Viking ha mollato gli ormeggi: inizia la navigazione.

Due ore e mezzo dopo che abbiamo lasciato l’ormeggio arriviamo al punto in cui il Mar Baltico incontra il lago Mälaren. La vista finalmente si apre, l’orizzonte si amplia e con esso la superficie argentea di quel mare che ciascun popolo qui chiama con un nome diverso. Il Mare dell’Est per noi mediterranei porta il nome greco di Βαλτική Θάλασσα ovvero Baltiké thálassa, ma per le sue ataviche genti no, per loro si chiama Ostsee in tedesco, Östersjön in svedese oppure Østersjøen per i reali di Oslo, Itämeri nella lingua di Alvar Aalto, Østersøen per i danesi e Morze Bałtyckie per i polacchi. Per tutti questi popoli il Baltico è il Mare dell’Est, tranne per gli estoni che rappresenta il Mare Occidentale e lo chiamano Läänemeri oppure per i russi che lo appellano come Балтийское море, mentre per i lituani è Baltijos Jūra e infine per i lettoni che lo definiscono in modo non dissimile dai loro confinanti: Baltijas Jūra. Shakespeare direbbe: “Quella che noi chiamiamo rosa, anche con un altro nome avrebbe lo stesso profumo”, e in effetti è così. Questo mare poco salato, nero come la pece, poco profondo e abitato da pesci osteitti cela grandi storie di commerci e di naufragi dovuti a tempeste o difficoltà di navigazione per le migliaia di isole e isolotti affioranti che rompono le rotte. Il Mar Baltico conserva la memoria di lunghe battaglie, di sanguinose rivoluzioni di Zar, di indipendenze repubblicane ma anche storie di sommergibili russi. 

Pronto a tuffarti sul relitto di Nederland in una leggera giornata di tempesta

Il Baltico è un libro con ancora infinite pagine da scrivere. I suoi fondali celano relitti e conservano spoglie di marinai civili o militari, di passeggeri ma anche di culture oggi svanite e orgoglio di una nazione. 

“Prima che arrivino i rivoluzionari, prima che arrivino i Bolscevichi!”

Questo deve aver pensato il comandate della bettolina fluviale olandese che salpò nel mese di dicembre 1917 da Hanko, lembo finnico nella sperduta landa russa. Il “Nederland” barge aveva mollato gli ormeggi con le stive ricolme di pietra a spacco, destinata a lastricare le strade del regno dei polder governato dalla Casa d’Orange-Nassau. 

Ora a cent’anni dal naufragio, avvenuto il 18 dicembre 1917 al largo dell’isolotto di Marhällan alle isole Åland, nessuno è mai riuscito a spiegare perché una bettolina fluviale dalla chiglia piatta, priva di motore e con locomozione a vela avesse risalito il Mar Baltico per centinaia di miglia per recarsi nelle terre di ghiaccio. Quel che è certo è che l’equipaggio scampò alla Великая русская революция, ovvero la “Grande rivoluzione russa” dei Bolscevichi, ma condivise con l’imperatore di Ajaccio il fato che lo costrinse a piegarsi al Generale Inverno. 

“Così dicevi”, un giorno di dicembre, mentre una roccia del Baltico apriva una falla sulla chiglia della tua bettolina costruita nel lontano 1897 a Veendam nei Paesi Bassi.

“Ed era inverno / e come gli altri verso l’inferno / te ne vai triste come chi deve / il vento ti sputa in faccia la neve.”


Lentamente affondava la bettolina, oggi senza nome, ribattezzata “Nederland” che ha trovato il suo giaciglio secolare a meno ventidue metri di profondità, tra il sedimento del mare e qualche tana per halibut o merluzzi. 

La ciurma si salvò, trovando riparo sullo stesso isolotto che ne aveva determinato l’affondamento: Marhällan. Trenta ore più tardi, la nave SS Mira raccoglierà i naufraghi così che possano raccontare la storia del loro affondamento, ma non quella del motivo del loro viaggio. Nessun archivio o registro navale ha traccia di questa imbarcazione che si era recata nella terra degli Zar per caricare tonnellate di pietre. 

Oggi il relitto sta affondando sotto il suo stesso peso nel fondale del Mar Baltico.
Le stive affiorano appena. Strisciando ci si può infilare al di sotto di esse, lasciando che il proprio ventre sfreghi sulle pietre squadrate da mani tagliate dal gelo e bocche impastate di alcool, quest’ultimo elisir ampiamente ingerito per combatte la fioca noia bianca dell’inverno più che sorseggiato per gusto. La prua del “Nederland” assomiglia alla sua poppa, come in tutte le bettoline fluviali. Una grande ancora è posizionata a prua, in corrispondenza della murata di dritta, poco distante in posizione centrale, sulla coperta, si trova il possente verricello e poi un osteriggio cui fa capolino una scaletta che conduce sottocoperta. Lì ho provato a infilarmi, ma il fango ricopre tutto: è una melassa vischiosa che cela tutte le storie della nave che resteranno per sempre, lì dentro, sepolte.

Flavio Cavalli accende il portello a poppa del relitto del Nederland

In prossimità della poppa si trova coricata sul fondale la possente pala del timone. Dove lo scafo si conclude, prende forma un ramo di ellisse in cui si trovano due targhe lignee. Quella di dritta reca l’iscrizione “Nederland” per indicare la nazione di provenienza della bettolina, mentre la placca posizionata sulla sinistra, anche rimuovendo lo strato di mitili che la ricoprono, lascia il subacqueo avventuriero senza risposta alcuna: il nome è scomparso, eroso dal tempo.


  • Rebreather Forum 4

Il giorno in cui mi sono immerso su questo relitto ho cercato qualche dettaglio che potesse aiutarmi nella ricostruzione della storia di questa imbarcazione fluviale. Dopo un’ora di fondo, trascorsa a filmare e cercare informazioni della bettolina, anche io come i miei predecessori, sono riemerso tra le acque verdi, cupe e nere del Baltico con la domanda: “Come si chiamerà?”.

Un’onda di un metro e mezzo mi ha tolto la vista sul faro, poi la corrente mi ha spinto lontano dallo scoglio semi affiorante che da i natali a onde voluttuose di schiuma bianca.
Botticelli avrebbe dipinto una Venere diversa se fosse stato quassù. Ne sono certo.

Il Baltico è catartico: “You want it darker / We kill the flame”.

Andrea Murdock Alpini si prepara per un tuffo Baltic’c

È giusto così, me ne vado anche questa volta con la necessità di tornare. 

Non ho finito il lavoro su questo relitto, devo tornare, a questo punto non è più una mia scelta ma una necessità. Tornerò e racconterò le storie di altre navi e altrettanti equipaggi. Dei loro viaggi e delle speranze finite sul fondo del Mar Baltico. La separazione è sempre un momento delicato, devi andartene o vuoi andartene ma allo stesso tempo, quando metabolizzi la decisione allora torna in te un velo di malinconia per quel che è stato. “Now so long, Mariehamn, it’s time that we began”, nelle assonanze canadesi ritrovo le parole adatte per descrivere la mia dipartita dalle isole finlandesi ma di lingua svedese. 

Domani sarà l’ora dell’imbarco tra le onde dell’arrivederci: “Here comes the morning boat / Here comes the evening flight / There goes Mariehamn now / To wave goodbye again”.


Andrea Murdock Alpini è istruttore tecnico TDI e CMAS di trimix ipossico, immersioni avanzate su relitti e in grotta o miniere. È affascinato dai relitti profondi, compie ricerche storiche, studi sulla decompressione al fine di realizzare filmati subacquei e scrivere report delle sue immersioni.Ha ottenuto la laurea magistrale in Architettura e un Master MBA in Economia dell’Arte. Andrea Murdock Alpini è inoltre fondatore del marchio PHY Diving Equipment. La sua vita ruota attorno all’insegnamento delle tecniche di immersione in circuito aperto, organizzare spedizioni subacquee, sviluppare attrezzatura per subacquea tecnica, organizzare conferenze e scrivere articoli e libri circa la sua filosofia di immersione su relitti e in ambienti ostruiti come miniere e grotte. Magenes Editoriale ha pubblicato il suo libro Deep Blue: storie di relitti e luoghi insoliti.

Exploration

Finding the Wreck of the “Admiral Knight”

Professional archeologist and tech diver Ewan Anderson recounts the tale of finding the early 1900s steamship the Admiral Knight in British Columbia waters in the spring of 2020—a collaboration of the British Columbia Underwater Explorers (BCUE) and the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia (UASBC). It’s a tribute to the power of “Citizen Science,” and the joys of diving with purpose. Here’s how they found it.

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By Ewan Anderson

The Admiral Knight, formerly the SS Portland . Courtesy PSMHS Williamson Collection, Neg. no. 2877

“Well… I might have a target for you,” read the fateful email that led to our search for the wreck of the early 1900s Admiral Knight steamship.

It was 2019, and Craig Lessels of the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) had been reviewing multi-beam sonar bathymetry datasets — basically, maps of the seafloor — when he noticed a cluster of features lying on the otherwise sandy seafloor, east of Galiano Island in the Salish Sea off the west coast of Canada. 

Thinking the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia (UASBC) might be interested, he forwarded what he had found to UASBC Explorations Director Jacques Marc. 

As it turned out, the UASBC had, since 2006, been looking near this location for the Admiral Knight, a steam-powered freighter that sank after an explosion in its engine caused a catastrophic fire on board.

The Search

The UASBC search began, as usual, with some serious background research.  The research turned up a wealth of information about the vessel’s origins and destruction in 1919. Launched by the Westward Navigation Company of Seattle in 1916 as the Kuskokwim River, the 43 m/142 ft long wood hulled, diesel-engine powered vessel was built to provide freight service between Puget Sound and Alaska. It was re-powered with steam engines in 1917 and renamed the SS Portland, and then renamed the Admiral Knight in 1919 after purchase by Alaska Pacific Fisheries, who may have used it to supply their canneries in Alaska.

On July 26, 1919, a fire broke out in the Admiral Knight’s engine room while the freighter was underway from Seattle to Ketchikan. The crew of 21 barely made it off the ship before it was engulfed in flames; the last six men leaped off the foredeck onto a boat dispatched by the local steam ferry just in time to be saved. Three days later, mariners were still being warned of the burning hulk drifting between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, but there was no sign of the ship by July 30.

The Admiral Knight was forgotten until the late 1950s when a group of divers explored a site near Galiano Island where a local fisherman reported to have snagged his gear on a wreck.  In an interview in 2006, one of the divers remembered seeing an intact wooden hull and some machinery matching the Admiral Knight’s description at depths of 55-64 m/180-220 ft; although this firsthand account came with the caveat that they were “narked out of their minds.” This general location became the focus of the UASBC’s field surveys over the next few years, including searches using towed side-scan sonar in 2006 and a multi-beam sonar survey by Parks Canada’s research vessel, the MV David Thompson. Those searches did not locate anything resembling the Admiral Knight wreck, and its location remained a mystery until CHS’s review of data from deeper water in 2019, just beyond the UASBC’s previous search areas.

The CHS target sits in 57 m/187 ft of water, which puts it beyond the range of the UASBC Explorations “regulars” group, some of whom have been exploring and documenting underwater maritime heritage sites in British Columbia and Alaska since the early ‘80s. As a UASBC Explorations regular myself — albeit with only 15 years’ worth of expeditions in my dive log — and member of British Columbia’s close-knit Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) technical diving community, Jacques turned the project over to me and wished me luck. I had been bothering Jacques for several years to give up his wish list of deeper shipwreck targets, and it appeared that this was my chance to prove that GUE tech divers on Vancouver Island could make a significant contribution to the underwater cultural heritage record on B.C.’s coast.  

Multi-beam sonar image of the wreck. Credit: Canadian Hydrographic Service

The Plan

We were ready! In short order, I had a team of qualified and enthusiastic GUE divers, a dive boat, and a dive date in April 2020. And then we were interrupted by the pandemic. Organised diving took a big step back while everyone tried to figure out how to navigate a variety of restrictions and act responsibly in the face of this century’s biggest global health scare. Focus shifted to community-building through impromptu dives, and the big projects, like our plan to identify the Admiral Knight, took a back seat.  

Dive boats available for projects around south Vancouver Island changed, too. GUE instructor evaluator and Vancouver Island resident Guy Shockey bought a boat, the Thermocline, brought it up to the island from Puget Sound, then learned how to drive it (possibly in that order). While the boat was still just a twinkle in Guy’s eye, he told me he hoped to make Thermocline a platform for divers to do world-class diving, but for that to happen it was up to the local GUE community to demonstrate that we had interesting project dives to do. He and I agreed that identifying the Admiral Knight fit the long-term community goals perfectly. Soon after the Thermocline arrived at its permanent home in Vancouver Island’s Maple Bay, Guy started referring to himself as “The Boat Driver,” so I knew he was seriously committed.  

  • Rebreather Forum 4

The Dive

By early 2022, our diving activities on the west coast were back to their pre-pandemic norms, and the way seemed clear to dive the Admiral Knight. So, on a sunny weekend this past August, with water as calm as glass, I found myself dropping through the cool, emerald-green depths towards the bold future of underwater archaeology in my backyard. 

Dropping down the shot line with me was Jason Cook, an instructor and fellow rebreather diver. As we descended, I had a head full of plans and checklists, and handfuls of equipment. Try as we might to keep things simple, we were determined to complete a minimum number of tasks and needed the gear to pull them off.  In addition to our JJ-CCR rebreathers and bailout cylinders to do the dive, we had a full-frame camera and two pairs of large video lights to document the wreck (if it wasn’t just a pile of rocks we were dropping onto). Jason had a 120 m/400 ft reel in case The Boat Driver dropped the shot in the middle of nowhere and our identification dive turned into a search for, well, anything.  I had an additional large surface marker buoy (SMB) stuffed in my left thigh pocket, which we planned to launch without a line attached to signal the next dive team that we’d found something worth diving.  We each had a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) to drag all this stuff around if the current picked up (strong currents are common in our region, but also highly localised, and nobody was sure when slack tide was at this new site).

The visibility on the descent was just over 20 m/60 ft, which is fantastic no matter where you are in the world. As we passed 40 m/130 a huge grey shape swam right in front of me — a shark! — no, just the biggest lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) I had ever seen. As the monster fish disappeared, we hit a layer of low-visibility water hovering about 5 m/15 ft off the seafloor. It appeared we were going to be diving in the dark — and the cold, since it was also suddenly only 9° C/~48° F. Finally, the shot appeared below us, lying on a featureless, sandy plain. There wasn’t even a pile of rocks pretending to be a wreck in sight.

Like the optimist he is, Jason quickly got out his reel to tie-off and start a search.  I, on the other hand, stared dejectedly into the gloom, where I could just make out some white blobs in the distance. But wait a second — the blobs must be plumose anemones (Metridium farcimen), and anemones must be attached to something! I got Jason’s attention with a flash of my light, and we headed off towards the anemones.

It turned out that our search for the wreck was brief — the anemones were only about 10 m/30 ft away, attached to a driveshaft just forward of a small steel propeller. It was a convenient place to tie off the reel, and an auspicious start to our dive. I deployed the SMB, which, unencumbered by a line attached to a spool, careened to the surface, and launched, like a small pink ballistic missile, out of the water beside the waiting Thermocline.  The second dive team — Lee Critchley, Conor Collins, and Colin Miller — were into the water in moments to start their dive.

Water tube boiler and engine parts; screen grab from video survey. Photo by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

Back at the wreck site, Jason and I started the next phase of our dive: a visual survey of the site. Firing up the DPVs, we followed the driveshafts forward from the propeller. The shafts disappear under a jumble of machinery that will need a more thorough survey to sort through. The large water-tube boilers appeared next, standing upright on their fire-boxes about 2-3 m/6-10 ft proud of the seafloor. Patches of the relatively thin steel encasing the boilers had corroded away, revealing intricate tubing that was cutting-edge boiler technology in the early 20th century. Winches and engine parts formed another pile forward of the boilers, beyond which was the relatively featureless expanse of seabed corresponding to what was once the vessel’s hold. About a minute later, we rounded the forecastle which sat upright about 3 m/10 ft high, the foredeck winch still in its original position. We completed our circuit with a straight run back to the stern, spotting the second drive shaft and propeller.

As the second team arrived on the bottom, Jason and I lit up the wreck with our video lights. I wanted to document the visual survey we’d just completed, so I coordinated with Jason to do a re-run at slow speed. He led and illuminated the wreck, while I followed with the DPV-mounted camera and lights. Keeping Jason in frame made for a good scale reference as we slipped slowly past century-old rust and watchful fish. The end of our video captured the other team swimming around the boilers. Conor was taking still photos while the others inspected the machinery and puzzled out what they were looking at.

Jason Cook lighting up the foredeck winch; screen grab from video survey by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

And just like that, it was time to go. Leaving the reel for the other team to collect, Jason and I headed back to the shot line and had the usual brief conversation confirming our decompression plan before leaving the bottom.  The ascent took us back up to the relatively crystal-clear water above 45 m/150 ft. We crossed the thermocline around 15 m/50 ft and completed our deco in 18°C/64° F water and dappled green sunlight. 

Dive teams on deco; from left to right: Jim Dixon, “The Boat Driver,” Jason Cook. Photo by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

The Rediscovery

Back onboard the Thermocline, we all agreed that the first day of diving was a great success. We had identified a wreck and concluded that it was worth diving again; but was this definitely the wreck of the Admiral Knight? We thought so: it is a steam-powered, twin-screw vessel of the correct size.  And we knew the burning hulk was seen by several witnesses drifting in the vicinity of our wreck site in late July 1919. More definitive evidence of the wreck’s identity lies in a closer inspection of the surviving equipment and the cargo. We surfaced with about 10 minutes of good-quality video and some still photos, which Jacques will want to review and comment on.  

The two-hour sail back to the dock, and lunch at the marina pub gave us plenty of time to debrief and discuss the details of our dives. We sketched out the goals for diving the next day, and I included a somewhat ambitious list of items to measure and a plan to create a 3D model of the boilers.

Jason and I were back in the water 24 hours after our first dive on the wreck. The shot line had landed right behind the boilers, so we got to work immediately. This time, we planned to document the boilers using photogrammetry. Issues with camera float arms the previous day meant we were not able to carry as many big lights, so I had the camera while Jason handled most of the lighting.  

Jason Cook preparing gear. Photo by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

The somewhat poor visibility and missing lighting (though we still had a lot of lights) meant we had to get relatively close to the wreck for well-lit photos. And since the boilers don’t cover a very large area, I decided to park the DPVs and kick. In hindsight, the DPVs might have made things easier, but I didn’t notice the current sweeping across the wreck until after the kicking started. I’m not beyond second-guessing myself underwater, but with only 30 minutes of bottom time to set-up and complete the photogrammetry, there wasn’t a lot of time to reorganise and restart the work. In the end, we managed to get about 470 reasonable photos for our modelling project.  

The second dive team, Guy and Jim Dixon, arrived on the wreck a few minutes after Jason and I started taking photos. Guy and Jim had the straightforward task of just enjoying the dive. This seemingly simple job is a common assignment on UASBC dives: divers who are unencumbered with cameras, lights, measuring tapes, and other documentation equipment are free to explore and are likely to notice important features that busy diver-photographers might miss. This team spent some time inspecting two “block” features that I had noticed the previous day; sitting forward of the engines and boilers, the blocks could have been the remnants of the vessel’s cargo, which would be an unusual find because we don’t often see intact cargo on our wrecks. We didn’t manage to solve the mystery on this expedition, and even with Guy and Jim offering detailed descriptions, we’re all still scratching our heads.

  • Rebreather Forum 4

Although there were only a handful of divers who made it down into the wreck in August, dozens of people have contributed their time and energy over the last decade and a half to making these successful dives possible. To dive into the unknown just to see what’s there is one thing, but to dive with purpose and come back with valuable information requires dedicated research and planning. Credit for our success (and the pressure to succeed!) in search for the Admiral Knight is largely due to Jacques Marc and other researchers at the UASBC who laid the groundwork for the project.

There is much more to come. We’ve proven that we can add deeper sites to the list of the UASBC’s potential expeditions. Jacques and other UASBC volunteers are turning to the archives to find more targets. By extending the range of what is possible for the local community, we also open the door to exploring deeper into history. Indigenous peoples have lived around the Salish Sea since time immemorial, as indigenous elders and cultural leaders say, and their cultural inheritance includes documented sites spanning the last 14,000 years. The connection Salish peoples have with the sea around us is undeniable, yet tangible underwater heritage sites other than shipwrecks have barely been explored.

As for the Admiral Knight, any uncertainty about the wreck’s identity may be beside the point. The wreck still makes for a great dive, and although it is relatively deep for most divers, many in our local dive community are qualified – or will be soon – to dive it. It’s worth the effort just to see the intact boilers and the entire vessel’s contents laid out on the seafloor, just as they were 103 years ago. The intact sections of wreck and potential cargo provide opportunities for further study and research as well. 

See companion stories:

Building Community Through Project Diving By Guy Shockey

Introducing GUE’s New Project Diver Program By Francesco Cameli

Dive Deeper

InDEPTH: How to Become an Explorer: Passion, Partnership, and Exploration

Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia 

Thermocline Diving 

Marc, Jacques and Warren Oliver Bush (2021) Historic Shipwrecks of the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.


Ewan Anderson is a professional archaeologist whose work focuses on assessing and mitigating development construction impacts to cultural heritage sites in British Columbia.  A consultant for all levels of government, a variety of industries and Indigenous communities, his expertise is in cultural heritage law, cutting edge archaeological methods and Indigenous peoples’ relationships with archaeology and those who practise it.  

Ewan is passionate about diving – especially when combined with underwater cultural heritage projects.  He is a GUE certified JJ-CCR diver and IANTD certified cave diver.   His diving has taken him around the world, even though everything he needs –  from wrecks to caves – can be found within a few hours of his home in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. 

His professional work and diving almost never mix, for which he is often thankful.  Ewan pursues his interests in underwater photography, underwater photogrammetry, and advocating for conservation of marine environments and underwater heritage, free from the yoke of capitalist overlords. He is a regular volunteer on Underwater Archaeological Society of BC expeditions and has served on the Society’s board of directors since 2018. 

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