Spanish underwater cultural heritage is an invaluable legacy that we must acknowledge, respect and preserve.
With over 7500 Km of coastline and a privileged location, Spain has always been strongly related with the seas; and the proximity of many sailing routes has lead to the accumulation of multiple shipwreck artifacts spread across the ocean floor, some of which are accessible but many others have been forgotten or remain undiscovered. The local and national authorities play an essential role in the study, funding, conservation and management of most of this patrimony that, for everyone’s benefit, should remain underwater as a testimony of our history. Therefore, the extraction of any kind of element that belongs to the underwater cultural heritage is a regulated activity completed under strict control and security measures. The illicit extraction of artefacts, though it is difficult to detect, constitutes criminal offence and it is firmly punished by law. Furthermore, the misplacement of a historical piece out of its environment inevitably causes a scar in History. Hence, awareness of the public and the contribution of the users of the underwater ecosystem are essential.
There exists an inventory of elements relatively accessible to the public which can be visited by divers as leisure or cultural activities. These shipwrecks represent an attraction both for divers and for the marine natural flora and fauna which find in them ideal sheltered spots for settlement, breeding and feeding. We are all responsible of the maintenance and conservation of the underwater heritage; but in particular diving schools and clubs, frequent visitors of these areas of special interest, have an essential role in the surveillance and conservation of these precious historical remains that have already become part of the marine ecosystem, by ensuring the instauration good practices around these sites. The aim of this project is, on one hand, to generate an efficient search tool to easily access the inventory of part of these submerged elements spread across the Spanish coastline, so certified divers who wish to visit them can contact diving centers that offer authorized visits to such elements. And on the other hand, to provide information and raise awareness over these areas, which represent genuine sanctuaries of life and History.
The association Hombre y Territorio (HyT), a non-profit entity, has promoted and developed this inventory during 2013 with the support of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
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