Finder’s Keepers

I watched an interesting TV show not long ago about divers who make considerable money by selling the items they find in shipwrecks deep in the ocean. Some of the relics have only historical value. Not many yield treasure chests of gold! Ha! Don’t they wish. It reminds me of pirate loot. This may be true in the seas off Somalia but not many other places. Many things at the bottom of the sea have been there for decades. Treasure hunters are always scouring for new sources of booty, hoping for a good haul. While the narrator mentioned the issue of legality for a brief moment, the issue was never fully clarified. It was assumed that the rule of finder’s keepers applies. In other words, we wouldn’t have such hunters if it weren’t legal. They are seldom clandestine and many film their exploits for entertainment. The show implied “go for it.”

What if you find something of value on a beach or in a park? Maybe it is in an athletic stadium or on a school playground. I know there are things under the seats in a movie theater or on an airplane. It is like finding money on the sidewalk or in an elevator. There is no law that says you have to turn it in. It is a courtesy to other citizens who might have reported the loss. But where is the official lost and found. On the other hand, it is illegal to sell stolen property. Even if you don’t know it, the items will be confiscated. If you use a metal detector to find gold, for example, you have every right to sell it as far as I can tell. I am frankly surprised that it isn’t more popular. Greed reigns supreme much to my chagrin.

Metal detecting as a hobby is another issue. Kids like to use them at the beach to find bottle caps. They collect them and enjoy the competition as to who gleans the most. The winner takes all. It sounds like good, clean fun. Parents beware that it doesn’t lead to misappropriation. My constant questioning has led me to this point. I was obviously disturbed by the show. Something about its attitude was definitely off. It glorified a kind of colorful theft. I suppose most people wouldn’t agree. To each his own. The pillagers might want to consider the origin of the ship and return the goods to the family, if it can be found, or the country’s government. There are reports of sunken ships and they seems eminently traceable if you make the effort. This is particular true of shipwrecks in the modern era.

I am in a quandary on metal detection as a pastime so I would love to know where others stand. Hence today’s blog topic. It is meant to help me out personally rather than to amuse. It is story telling with a distinct purpose. Thanks for reading.