About SRS – Brief Overview
SEA RESEARCH SOCIETY – A BRIEF OVERVIEW
What is the Sea Research Society?
The Society was chartered in 1972 as a non-profit organization for educational and research purposes and is tax-exempt under IRS regulation 501-C-3. Its general purpose is to promote scientific and educational endeavors in any of the marine sciences or marine histories with the goal of obtaining knowledge for the ultimate benefit to mankind. It does both archival research and underwater expeditions, both scientific and in search of historic shipwrecks.
Who’s in charge?
The president of Sea Research Society is Dr. E. Lee Spence, a pioneer in underwater archaeology and discover of numerous shipwrecks including the Civil War submarine Hunley, which he donated to the state of South Carolina in 1995 at the official request of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. The Society exists so all can benefit from the knowledge hidden, and sometimes in plain sight, above and below the water’s surface and Dr. Spence helps to make sure we fulfill our mission.
What does the Society do?
The objectives and purposes of the Society center on search, salvage, and scientific expeditions as well as research (historical and scientific) and education in all of the marine sciences. These initiatives are done entirely through the Society or in partnership with outside individuals and organizations. The Society also maintains a general membership of students, educators, researchers, divers, and enthusiasts who would like to stay in touch with the Society and in some cases actively participate in our initiatives. Part of our overall goal is the creation of an educational research facility (devoted to the study of underwater archaeology, oceanography, marine biology, meteorology, and related arts and sciences), a marine history museum, and a research library.
How is the Society funded?
The Society’s operations are funded in a number of ways. Our entry level membership fees barely cover the costs of benefits offered to each member, but we feel it’s critical to offer an affordable way to become an active part of the Society. Our higher level memberships help to fund our general operations and provide avenues for deeper collaboration with the Society and avenues to funding specific expeditions. Another source of funding for the Society comes from admission fees to Society facilities and events, though members receive both free and discounted admission. The reality is that expeditions are very expensive when they’re done correctly and we’re committed to maintaing strict standards for the expeditions we undertake. In order to fund both our operations and our expeditions the Society sells, licenses, or otherwise disposes of some of the rights and artifacts acquired during our expeditions.
Why sell and license your rights and artifacts?
The Society undertakes search and salvage operations in and around the waters of the United States and/or the waters of other nations. These operations help us acquire a wealth of information and artifacts, many of which find a home in the Society’s collections. To help finance the Society’s operation we will sell or otherwise dispose some of the rights and/or artifacts the Society acquires during its expeditions. The rights and artifacts these expeditions yield provide a significant cash flow which helps provide financial stability to the entire organization allowing us to continue our expeditions for the benefit of all.
Is that ethical? What about the valuable information they can provide?
The Society believes that salvage and archaeology are compatible and that the sale of artifacts is not only ethical but is the only reasonable way to finance the archaeology needed to save a large part of the world’s vast underwater archaeological heritage. we strongly suggest that you read Dr. Spence’s paper titled Ethics in Underwater Archaeology?
The Society is committed to meeting and maintaining appropriate archaeological standards on all of its archaeological/salvage projects. That means we gather all of the information we can, thoroughly documenting the artifacts and their surroundings.
The Society does not willfully participate in any project which is in violation of the laws of any government or any expedition which is not adequately staffed and funded to protect the archaeological and historical integrity of the site. Society personnel are expected to meet rigid professional and ethical standards. Although the Society’s share of the salvaged artifacts may be sold, such sales are strictly recorded with the proceeds going to pay for expedition and/or to pay for other obligations, functions and purposes of the Society.