TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration is bringing treasure, artifacts and even some pirate relics to a new exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
“(There will be) dozens of artifacts, some of which we haven’t displayed before – most notably the bell from the SS Republic.We have a World War II casualty, where we recovered 100 tons of silver bullion. We’ll actually have one of those 80-pound silver bars here on display,” Odyssey CEO Mark Gordon said.
The exhibit will feature gold coins, silver and a 500-pound cannon recovered from the ocean floor of the Straights of Gibraltar. “It came from a barbary pirate ship. They were interesting. They were black pirates that took white slaves, white European slaves,” Gordon explained.
Odyssey Marine Exploration is in the business of recovering treasure from the deep ocean floor. The company also takes pride in documenting the history of each wreck.
“The interesting thing about shipwrecks is they are time capsules and they tell a story of a time they sunk. So looking at the artifacts you’ll see on display here, you’ll get a sense of history,” Gordon said.
Odyssey’s own course has been changing in recent years as they explore more ways to utilize their expertise and deep sea capabilities. “It’s an interesting time at Odyssey because our business is migrating into seafloor mineral exploration. Shipwrecks are still really important to us,” Gordon said.
This year the company struggled as it was given notice by the NASDAQ Stock Market that it wasn’t hitting a key benchmark for trading.
Odyssey has taken on a new investment partner but sold off a number of assets in order to take in much-needed cash to continue the treasure hunting part of its business.
“It’s a great deal for the investor and for Odyssey because Odyssey will continue to do the shipwreck work we’ve done without taking the financial risk we’ve taken in the past. So having an investor that will step in and fund the shipwreck component is great because, in addition to being able to continue to do the work, Odyssey will still gain financially,” Gordon said.
The new exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of History opens Sunday, Jan. 24.