Aqua Exploration - Wreck Salvors & Pioneers in Marine Archeology
In 1982, after having been a diver for 10 years, Charles Shapiro decided to form a salvage group.
During 1984, two years after the discovery of the Joanna during 1982, (the first English East Indiaman to wreck off the coast of South Africa near Cape Agulhas in 1682, carrying a cargo of silver specie in the form of coins and ingots), Charles and Mickey Shapiro, Erik Lombard and Andre Hartman decided to separate from the other members of this group and together with another friend of Charles', named Mike Keulemans, formed a company called Aqua Exploration. Mike Keulemans sadly passed away in 1991, soon after discovering a wreck site with the use of a side-scan sonar and verified with a magnetometer. Seven years later (1998), after many misfortunes, this site was eventually identified with the use of a "Sea Owl" ROV camera, to be their sought after Brederode 1785.
They were involved with the discovery of the more notable South African wrecks such as the, Le Centaur 1750, Colebrooke 1778, Brederode 1785, Britannia 1826, Northumberland 1838 and the excavations of the Le Centaur 1750, Colebrooke 1778, Britannia 1826, Birkenhead 1852, and Borderer 1868, lying in 45 metres (the deepest excavation done in South Africa).
They went on to become one of the most active salvage groups in South Africa, locating/identifying more than 25 other wrecks, most of which were found in the Cape waters, while others have been located internationally as well. During the year 2000, Charles Shapiro decided to form his own cc Company, which now trades as Aqua Exploration! Charles T/A Aqua Exploration, together with Jan and Ingrid van der Merwe went on to discover their latest wreck, that of the "Nossa Senhora dos Milagros 1686"
When a shipwreck is discovered that the company would like to excavate, their first step is to apply for the necessary salvage permit from the National Monuments Council (today known as the South African Heritage Resources Agency - SAHRA) and a letter of co-operation from the South African Cultural History and Maritime Museums (today known as Iziko Museums of Cape Town). Aqua Exploration has always worked in close collaboration with these institutions, as well as Customs and Excise, when it comes to selling anything.
Charles Shapiro cc T/A "Aqua Exploration"
South African Historical Wreck Society
+27 (0) 82 086 5937