About Underwater Archeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence

Dr. E. Lee Spence — Underwater Archaeologist, Shipwreck Historian, Treasure Hunter, Author, Editor, & Award-Winning Diver & Cartographer

Click on images throughout this page to see, hear, and read more!

Spurred on by childhood tales of pirates and adventure, Dr. E. Lee Spence, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and an IQ of 185, designed and built his own diving gear and found his first shipwrecks the year he was twelve. That was 1959-1960. He has since found hundreds more wrecks and has worked on everything from Spanish galleons and pirate ships to Civil War blockade runners and twentieth century freighters. He remembers the exciting dreams of his youth and is still making them come true. One of those dreams was eating off the dinner plates and drinking wine recovered from the shipwrecks. Another was finding gold and silver coins, cannons and swords. He has lived all of those dreams and lots more.


Vice magazine described Spence as “a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology, a world-renowned treasure hunter, and just about as close to an actual living, breathing Nathan Drake (in the Uncharted gaming series) as you’re ever going to find.” Some think he is the “real Dirk Pitt” (the protagonist of the Clive Cussler novels), while others refer to him as the “Indiana Jones of the Sea.”


The photo to the right shows Dr. Spence with a 22-carat gold sword handle made in the shape of the Hindu god Ganesh, weighing over a kilo, and studded with rubies and sapphires. It is thought to have belonged to a series of “pirate kings.”

A smiling, tanned and bearded, Dr. E. Lee Spence displays a ruby & sapphire studded, gold sword handle.

Brief Biography

Dr. Spence is an internationally known expert on shipwrecks and sunken treasures. His bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies was perhaps the first accredited academic degree ever awarded in the United States for any program in marine archaeology. He also received one of the first five doctorates (Doctor of Marine Histories, College of Marine Arts, 1972) ever awarded for marine archaeology anywhere in the world and he has long been considered one of the founding fathers of marine archaeology.

His work has been funded by such institutions as the Savannah Ships of the Sea Museum, CRIL (the Caribbean Research Institute Ltd., Colombia, South America), the College of Charleston, the South Carolina Committee for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In the early 1990s he served as Chief of Underwater Archaeology for Providencia Y San Andres, a 40,000 square mile archipelago in the Western Caribbean. He has authored more than two dozen books, and has served as an editor for a number of nationally distributed magazines. He is also an award winning cartographer and has published a number of maps and charts dealing with shipwrecks and treasure.

Always an adventurer, Spence has traveled to a wide range of exotic places in the Far East, Europe, Central and South America. He has explored castles, palaces, shipwrecks, ancient ruins, secret tunnels, and subterranean and underwater caves. He has dived in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean.

He has been shot at, buried in cave-ins, tangled in fishing nets, pinned under wreckage, run out of air, lost inside a wreck, and bitten by fish while pursuing his quests.

Although Dr. Spence has discovered numerous historically significant shipwrecks, including the Civil War blockade runner Georgiana and the Confederate submarine Hunley, he hasn’t only made discoveries underwater. He considers his identification of Charleston born banking and shipping magnate George Trenholm as the “Real Rhett Butler” to have been his most interesting non-shipwreck discovery. Trenholm’s fleet of fast steamers earned today’s equivalent of over one billion dollars running munitions, medicines, and merchandise through the Federal blockade. By the end of the Civil War, Trenholm was a major figure in the Confederate government. The United States actually charged Trenholm with treason and claimed he had made off with and concealed hundreds of millions in Confederate assets. Trenholm died without revealing his secrets. Spence is currently trying to uncover them.

The State of South Carolina’s claim of ownership to the Civil War submarine Hunley was based on Spence’s 1970 discovery of that vessel and his subsequent gift of his salvage rights to it to the State. Spence’s gift of his rights was made in September of 1995 at the official request of the Attorney General of South Carolina and the South Carolina Hunley Commission.

In 2013, Dr. Spence announced his discoveries at Cape Romain of the 1894 wreck of the SS Ozama and the 1881 wreck of the SS United States.

As an historian, Spence believes the biggest key to success on any expedition is the archival research that precedes it. Spence calls historical research “his drug of choice” and says, “In today’s world, time is the most expensive part of a salvage expedition. Man-hours spent in the archives can cut hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of time from the field phase of most projects.”

Read more about Dr. Spence on Wikipedia.

this was prepared by Christian Chamberlain for presentation before the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences in 2013 for the occasion of Spence receiving a NOGI and being made a fellow of that institution

Video: “Dr. E. Lee Spence, Underwater Archaeologist,” prepared by Christian Chamberlain for presentation before the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences for the occasion of Spence receiving a NOGI and being made a fellow of that institution

Dr. Spence's Awards & Accolades

  • 2013- Honored with the 2012-2013 NOGI in science
  • 2010- Undersea Explorers Award (Montres Charmex SA)
  • 2010- International Who’s Who of Diving (Diving Almanac)
  • 2009- Honorarium, National Geographic
  • 1998- Who’s Who in South & South West
  • 1997- Who’s Who in America
  • 1996- Who’s Who in Finance & Industry
  • 1992- Chief of Underwater Archaeology, Providencia
  • 1991- Mark of Excellence, Beneath the Sea
  • 1983- Grant, South Carolina Committee for Humanities, shipwrecks study
  • 1983- Grant, National Endowment of the Humanities
  • 1983- Grant, Ships of the Sea Museum
  • 1976- Donald O. Bushman Cartography Award by University of South Carolina
  • 1971- Grant, Contemporary University, University of South Carolina
  • 1971- Honors Program University of South Carolina
  • 1967- Honorable Discharge United States Army
  • 1966- Honors Program University of Miami
  • 1966- National Honors Scholarship University of Miami
  • 1966- Reserve Officer Training Corps 4-year scholarship
  • 1966- appointment to Merchant Marine Academy
  • 1966- alternate appointment to United States Naval Academy
  • 1966- alternate appointment to West Point, United States Military Academy
  • 1966- First Prize Science Fair, underwater inflatable house
  • 1965- National Science Foundation Scholarship
  • 1960- National Educational Development Test Certificate of Merit

Dr. Spence on Radio & TV...

WIS TV (NBC): TV Interview re: Spence’s discovery of SS Ozama shipwreck

Under The Cross Bones Radio: Interview with E. Lee Spence 

NightTalker Radio: Interview

World Footprints: Interview

Dr. Spence in Social Media...

Facebook Public Page, “Dr. E. Lee Spence, Underwater Archaeologist, Shipwrecks, Sunken Treasure” has 100,000+ followers

LinkedIn: Dr. Spence’s profile page has 30,500+ followers, which links him to 20,000,000+ professionals

Pinterest: Dr. Spence’s Boards have 1,000+ Pins and 500+ Followers

Twitter: Dr. Spence is “HunleyFinder” with over 2,300 Tweets and 2,300+ Followers

Some of Dr. Spence's many Discoveries...

Dr. Spence was the original researcher behind the discoveries of two of the richest wrecks salvaged to date, i.e. the Gold Rush era steamer Central America, lost in 1854, and the Republic, sunk in 1865. The gold and silver coins and bullion recovered from them have been collectively valued at over a half billion dollars.

In 1970 Dr. Spence discovered the tiny Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley, which was the first submarine in the entire history of the world to actually sink an enemy ship in battle. He also located her victim, the USS Housatonic. In 1995, at the official request of Senator McConnell, Chairman of the Hunley Commission, Dr. Spence donated his rights to the Hunley to the State of South Carolina. The Hunley was raised in 2000 and is undergoing intensive study and conservation/preservation. The Hunley has been valued at over $20,000,000 and has been described by government officials as “the most important underwater archaeological discovery of the Twentieth Century.”

Dr. Spence has found a long list of Civil War blockade runners including the following steamers: GeorgianaMary Bowers; the Stonewall Jackson (ex-Leopard); the Norseman; the Constance Decimer; the Wave Queen; the Celt (also called the Colt or Sylph); the Presto; the Stono (ex-U.S. gunboat Isaac Smith); the Ruby; the Beatrice; the Minho; the Prince Albert; the Sumter and the Flora. Although he wasn’t the original finder, he has also worked on many other Civil War wrecks such as the Dare.

Other discoveries include the locations and/or identities of numerous wrecks of merchant vessels of all time periods and nationalities, including but not limited to: the British transport Glasgow Packet captured and burnt in 1776; the ship America wrecked in 1788; the brig Consolation, sunk in 1804; the privateer Brant, wrecked in 1814; the schooner Diamond, sunk in 1816; the square rigged ship Delia Maria, sunk in 1854; the schooner Prince of Wales, sunk in 1861; the bark Canterbury, sunk in 1875; the bark Carrier Dove, sunk in 1876; the steamer City of Vera Cruz, sunk in 1880; the side-wheel steamer United States sunk in 1881; the screw steamer Ozama lost in 1894; and the fuel oil tanker George MacDonald, sunk in 1960. (Several of the above vessel identifications are, of necessity, tentative identifications.)

Dr. Spence was also the first person to research, prove and reveal to the public that George Alfred Trenholm was the historical basis of the fictional blockade runner captain, Rhett Butler, in Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gone With The Wind. Like many of his shipwreck discoveries, the announcement of that discovery made international news.

He has found as many as twenty-eight previously unknown shipwrecks in a single day. In that particular case he never formally announced their discovery because of safety and other concerns.

Another find is the wreck of a sailing vessel from the 1850s. If it is the remains of the vessel he believes it to be, it will be still another major discovery. He does not plan a formal announcement until he can make a positive identification of the wreck.

CSS Georgiana sunk in 1863: Blockade runner & most powerful Confederate cruiser.

Submarine H.L. Hunley lost in 1864: First sub in history to sink an enemy ship.

SS United States sunk 1881: First submarine in history to sink an enemy ship.

SS Ozama wrecked in 1894: First submarine in history to sink an enemy ship.

Dr. Spence's Current Involvement in Research & Education...

Picture shows the first headquarters of the Sea Research Society. The Sea Research Society is a non-profit educational research organization founded in 1972. 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 in search of historic shipwrecks.

Sea Research Society: Underwater Archaeologist and President

The International Diving Institute is a nationally accredited school for the training of commercial divers, offering courses in surface supplied air (helmet) diving; hyperbaric chamber operations; underwater welding; ROV operation; etc.

International Diving Institute: Owner and Vice President

Dr. Spence in Print as Author and/or Editor...

Dr. Spence has authored/edited well over two dozen books, so this section is incomplete and still under construction with pictures of more books by Spence to be added soon.

Author of: Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The real Rhett Butler & Other Revelations

Author of: Spence’s Guide to South Carolina

Cover of <em>A look at South Carolina

Author of: A Look at South Carolina’s Underwater Heritage

cover of Dr. E. Lee Spence

Author of: Shipwrecks, Pirates, & Privateers: Sunken Treasures of the Upper South Carolina Coast, 1521-1865

cover of the spiral bound book <em>Shipwrecks of the Era of Revolution South Carolina & Georgia 1763-83</em> by Dr. E. Lee Spence; part of the Spence

Author of: Shipwrecks of the Era of Revolution South Carolina & Georgia 1763-83

cover of the spiral bound book <em>Shipwrecks of the Era of Colonization South Carolina & Georgia 1521-1762</em> by Dr. E. Lee Spence; part of the Spence

Author of: Shipwrecks of the Era of Colonization South Carolina & Georgia 1521-1762

cover of <em>Shipwrecks of the Old Bahama Islands</em> by Dr. E. Lee Spence

Author of: Shipwrecks of the Old Bahama Islands (2,100 total 5.5×8.5 pages bound as 14 volumes)

This 200 page book by Dr. E. Lee Spence is a heavily footnoted listing of over 350 shipwrecks in the Turks & Caicos Islands, which was compiled using primarily contemporary accounts and was prepared as a confidential report in 2015, and has not been released to the general public.

Author of: Shipwrecks of the Turks & Caicos Islands

Cover of <em>Shipwrecks of South Carolina</em> by E. Lee Spence, showing an old fashioned helmet diver holding a human skull. Dr. Spence has discovered numerous shipwrecks in and around Charleston Harbor and approaches, including the Hunley, which was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship. He moved away from Charleston after his home on Sullivan

Author of: Shipwrecks of Charleston Harbor

Cover of the spiral bound book, <em>Wreck of the Georgiana: Mystery Ship of the Confederacy</em> by E. Lee Spence, President, Shipwreck Consultants,™ Inc. Spence, who found his first shipwrecks at age 12, discovered the wreck of the <em>Georgiana</em> in 1965 when he was just 17, and went on to become one of the pioneers of underwater archaeology. In 1970 he discovered the wreck of the <em>Hunley</em>, which had been the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship. In 1972, he received one of the first five doctorates ever given in underwater archaeology anywhere in the world. In 2013 he was honored with a NOGI, which is the oldest and most prestigious award in diving.

Author of: Wreck of the Georgiana: Mystery Ship of the Confederacy

Cover of the spiral bound edition of the book <em>Shipwreck Encyclopedia of the Civil War: North Carolina, 1861-1865</em> by Dr. E. Lee Spence. This book is part of the Spence

Author of: Shipwreck Encyclopedia of the Civil War: North Carolina 1861-1865

Cover of the book <em>Shipwreck Encyclopedia of the Civil War: South Carolina & Georgia 1861-1865</em> by underwater archaeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence; part of the Spence

Author of: Shipwreck Encyclopedia of the Civil War: South Carolina & Georgia 1861-1865

Author of: Shipwrecks through War, Weather, and Error

Quest for Shipwrecks by Jim McNutt — Spence wrote chapter on Shipwreck

cover of the book

South Carolina and the Sea: Day by Day toward Five Centuries by Percival Petit — Spence wrote chapter on underwater heritage

<em>Shipwrecks of South Carolina & Georgia, 1521-1865</em> by Dr. E. Lee Spence published in 1985 by the Sea Research Society in two hardcover volumes. 874 total pages.

Author of: Shipwrecks of South Carolina and Georgia 1521-1865 (874 total 8.5×11 pages bound as two hardcover volumes)


Dr. Spence's work published in Professional Journals & Reports...

This section relates to professional papers, book reviews, etc. written or co-authored by Spence, which were published in archaeology journals and/or in formal reports. This section is still under construction with more journals and reports to be added.

Conference Historic Site Archaeology Papers 1968: included “Salvaging the Cargo of the Mary Bowers” by Spence

Conference Historic Site Archaeology Papers 1969: included peer review papers on Spence’s “Salvaging the Cargo of the Mary Bowers”

Conference Historic Site Archaeology Papers 1970: includes “Underwater Archeology in South Carolina” by Spence

Seafarers: Journal of Maritime Heritage (1987): includes “Shipwrecks of Charleston Harbor: A Sunken Museum Reveals America’s Past” by Spence

ARS report on shipwreck survey at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (2011) — co-authored by Spence as “Consulting Archaeologist”

ARS report on shipwreck survey of SW coast of Dominican Republic (2011) — co-authored by Spence as “Consulting Archaeologist”

Plains Anthropologist (1976): Review of The Steamer Bertrand

International Journal of Nautical Archeology: update on Sea Research Society

Sea Research Society Monthly Newsletter: edited by Spence

Diving World: official journal of NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), Spence both underwater archaeology editor and a contributor

Dr. Spence in Non-Fiction Books by Third Parties...

This section relates to various non-fiction books mentioning Spence and/or crediting him with various discoveries and/or referencing Spence as a source and/or listing his published works in their bibliography. It is still under construction with more books to be added. 

<em>Treasure: Man

Treasure: Man’s 25 Greatest Quests for El Dorado by B.A. Tomkins

Cover of the book <em>Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks</em> by W. Craig Gaines, in which he credits Dr. E. Lee Spence with the discovery of a number of the wrecks.

 Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks by W.C. Gaines

cover of <em>ARS Shipwreck Projects Dominican Republic</em>, Volume 1, by Robert H. Pritchett III & William K. Seliger.  Dr. E. Lee Spence is shown in photo and mentioned in text, and Spence

ARS Shipwreck Projects Dominican Republic: by Pritchett & Seliger


book on the submarine Hunley, which mentions Dr. E. Lee Spence

The CSS H.L. Hunley by R. Thomas Campbell

Cover of the 1st edition of <em>The Hunley: Submarines, Sacrifice, & Success in the Civil War</em>by Mark K. Ragan, with an appendix containing articles and documents relating to Dr. E. Lee Spence

The Hunley: Submarines, Sacrifice & Success in the Civil War: by Mark K. Ragan, with an appendix dealing with Spence’s donation of the Hunley to the State

The book <em>Cultural Survey of Continental Shelf from Cape Hatteras to Key West —Final Report— Volume III: Shipwreck Archaeology and Remote Sensing Technology, June 1981</em> Volume III by R. Duncan Mathewson, Science Applications Inc., mentions E. Lee Spence in the text as sharing his research on over 600 shipwrecks in South Carolina waters and as discovering and working the Civil War shipwrecks <em>Georgiana</em> and <em>Mary Bowers,</em> and, in the bibliography lists a number of Spence

A Cultural Resource Survey of the Continental Shelf from Cape Hatteras to Key West, Vol. 3: by R. Duncan Mathewson for Science Applications Inc.


Civil War Maps: An Annotated List of Maps and Atlases in the Library of Congress: by Richard W. Stephenson (lists 2 of Spence’s maps)

Charleston’s Maritime Heritage 1670-1865: by Priestly Coker mentions Spence’s discovery of shipwreck Mary Bowers

<em>Tracking Treasure: Romance & Fortune Beneath the Sea and How to Find It!</em> by Phil Z. Trupp. Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. 208 pages

Tracking Treasure: by Phil Z. Trupp

A Management Plan for United States Navy Shipwrecks in South Carolina by James D. Spirek and Christopher F. Amer. © 2004  by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina. E. Lee Spence is mentioned in conjunction with several shipwrecks and one of Spence

A Management Plan for United States Navy Shipwrecks in South Carolina: by James D. Spirek and Christopher F. Amer 

Tangled Machinery and Charred Relics: by Frank Chance, Paul Chance, and Dave Topper

Laylon Wayne Jordan in his book, <em>A History of Coastal Storms in South Carolina</em>, repeatedly quotes Dr. E. Lee Spence’s original research on shipwrecks of South Carolina, in some cases actually photo-copying, without permission, directly from one of Spence

A History of Coastal Storms in South Carolina: by Laylon Wayne Jordan who extensively quotes from Spence’s copyrighted work

Shipwrecks-of-the-Western-Hemisphere: by Robert Marx

Knight’s Gold: by Jack Myers

Dr. Spence in Novels & Other Works of Fiction by Third Parties...

This section is still under construction with more books to be added, please check back again soon. It relates to various novels and works of fiction mentioning Spence’s real-life discoveries in the storyline, or that are dedicated to him, and/or that quote Spence on the cover.

Oceans of Steam by Aaron Platt

The Fire of Mars by Stephen F. Clegg

Dr. Spence in Children's Books by Third Parties...

This section is still under construction with more books to be added, please check back again soon. It relates to various children’s books that mention Spence and his real-life discoveries in their text.

Cover of the book <em>Ghosts from the Coast</em> by award winning author Nancy Roberts, in which she credits Dr. E. Lee Spence with the discovery of the Hunley in 1970.

 Ghosts from the Coast by Nancy Roberts

Cover of the book <em>Hidden Treasure</em> by Alison Hawes. This book includes a picture of Dr. E. Lee Spence and tells about some of his work.

Hidden Treasure by Alison Hawes

Dr. Spence as a magazine editor...

cover of ShipWrecks magazine, published by shipwreck archaeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence

Publisher/Senior EditorShipWrecks®

cover of Atlantic Coastal Diver magazine

Underwater Archaeology EditorAtlantic Coastal Diver

cover of Wreck Diver magazine, published by shipwreck archaeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence

 Publisher/Senior EditorWreck Diver

cover of Treasure Diver magazine, Dr. E. Spence, underwater archaeology editor

Underwater Archaeology EditorTreasure Diver: The Journal of Underwater Adventure

cover of Treasure Found magazine

Contributing EditorTreasure Found

cover of America

Contributing Editor: America’s treasure Search magazine

Cover of Treasure Quest magazine

Contributing EditorTreasure Quest magazine

cover Treasure magazine

Contributing EditorTreasure magazine

Chief EditorR.L. White Pages magazine

Spence has also assisted in the preparation of major articles, which have appeared in Reader’s Digest, Life magazine, Fortune magazine, and USA-Today.
Dr. Spence's Maps, Charts, & Certificates...

This section is under construction with more maps, charts and certificates to be added, please check back soon.

Dr. Spence was the 1976 winner of the Donald O. Bushman Cartography Award by University of South Carolina and has done both land and underwater surveys, creating numerous plats, maps, nautical charts, and topographical maps. In addition to the ones pictured here, some of his other published maps and certificates include: A Map of the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers in Florida, with Historic Sites and Shipwrecks, Tallahassee, 1965; Revolutionary War Battlefields of South Carolina, Sullivan’s Island, S.C., 1974; Shipwrecks of South Carolina, 1520-1776, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, 1976; Artificial Reefs of South Carolina, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, 1976; Shrimping in South Carolina, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, 1976; Crabbing in South Carolina, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, 1976; South Carolina Shipwrecks, Sea Research Society, Columbia, South Carolina, 1976; Archaic Sites of South Carolina by County, Sea Research Society, Columbia, South Carolina, 1976; Woodland Sites of South Carolina by County, Sea Research Society, Columbia, South Carolina, 1976; Archeological Sites of South Carolina by County, Sea Research Society, Columbia, South Carolina, 1976; Shipwrecks of Hilton Head, South Carolina, 1980; Relics of the Civil War, (artifact certificate with map showing wrecks), Shipwreck Press, Charleston, South Carolina, 1985; Treasure From the Regina, (artifact certificate with Spence’s drawing of the shipwreck), Shipwreck Press, Charleston, South Carolina, 1987; Wreck of the City of Vera Cruz, (artifact certificate with chart of wreck’s location), Shipwreck Press, Charleston, South Carolina, 1990; Wreck of the William Lawrence, (artifact certificate with chart showing the wreck’s location), Shipwreck Press, Charleston, South Carolina, 1990; Shipwrecks of Wreck Valley (New York & New Jersey), Shipwreck Press, 1990
Map by E. Lee Spence showing the wreck of the Civil War steamer Georgiana.

Map by Spence showing the location and details of the wreck of the Civil War steamer Georgiana.

Map Shipwrecks of the Civil War at Charleston, South carolina

This decorative map, “Civil War Shipwrecks of Charleston South Carolina 1861-1865,” is one that Spence drew and first published in 1984. It correctly shows the relative position of the Hunley as off shore and east of the wreck of the Housatonic. That is important because its offshore location was unexpected and went against the historical record. In other words it was not a location that would have been deduced or guessed at from historical records. Like other historians, Spence knew from research that an offshore location was unlikely and would not have correctly shown its relative location if he had not already found both wrecks. Although not meant for navigational purposes, this map is additional proof that Spence found the Hunley long before the SCIAA/NUMA expedition dug it up in 1995.

Delia Maria shipwreck artifact certificate

Artifact certificate with a small tile and part of a plate salvaged from the 1854 wreck of the ship Delia Maria.

Miscellaneous Honors, Awards and Recognition...

 This section is under construction, please check back

Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences: Awarded the 2012-2013 NOGI in Science for his pioneering work in underwater archaeology. The NOGI is the oldest and most distinguished award in diving.

Montres Charmex SA: Awarded 2010 Undersea Explorers Award (in part for discovery of the Hunley)

National Geographic Society: Awarded honorarium in 2009 for consulting on shipwrecks for Sylvia Earle’s Ocean an Illustrated Atlas

Dr. Spence in Newspapers & Magazines...

Articles by or about Spence and/or his projects have also been carried in foreign publications such as the Norwegian men’s magazine Vi Menn; the French magazine Tresors de l’histoire, the Sunday Express and the Sun, (both London, England); Sarnia Observer, newspaper, (Canada); La Stampa, newspaper, (Italy); Oggi (Italian equivalent of People magazine); Canadian Diving News magazine; International Journal of Nautical Archeology (Great Britain); MacCleans (“Canada’s Weekly Newsmagazine”); and in Heutzu (a major German magazine). This section is under construction, please check back.

Maclean’s (Canada’s Weekly NewsMagazine): “Riches from the lake bed”

The Sun (London): “£600M Gold in Them That Holds” – Discovery of the steamer Central America

Der Standard (Austria): Goldrausch in der Tiefsee (Gold Rush in the Deep Sea)

The December 5, 1994, issue of the Italian magazine OGGI carried a major article on Dr. E. Lee Spence

OGGI: article about Lee Spence’s discovery that Rhett Butler was based on George Trenholm

Vi  menn: Article by E. Lee Spence on the salvage of millions in gold from the SS Central America 


XXXXXX: “xxxxx”

Besides Life, People Weekly, U.S. News & World Report, Spence has had numerous articles by or about or crediting him and/or his work, that have appeared in various issues of such periodicals as Argosy (which was then the world’s largest men’s adventure magazine); Skin Diver (which for decades was the foremost magazine for divers); Gold Prospector, which bills itself as “the magazine of mining and adventure”; History Magazine; Atlantic Coastal Diver magazine; Treasure (the world’s largest treasure oriented magazine); Treasure World magazine; Treasure Search magazine; Treasure Diver magazine; Treasure Found magazine; Treasure Quest magazine; Islander magazine; Carolina Cruising magazine; Sandlapper magazine; National Diver magazine; ShipWrecks magazine; Wreck Diver newsletter; Millionaire magazine and the R.L. White Pages (both publications were published by Robert L. White, the founder of the Robb Report and both magazines catered to millionaires). Specific references will be given upon request. This is definitely an incomplete list.

Life: “The Search for Lost Treasures; 8 Great Mysteries of the Americas”

People magazine: “Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Mumm! Veteran Diver Lee Spence Toasts the Treasure of the Lost Wreck Regina”

Major article in <em>U.S. News & World Report</em> about the discovery, raising and preservation of the Civil War submarine <em>Hunley</em>, in which Dr. E. Lee Spence is credited with the wreck

 U.S. News & World Report: “The Hunley” — this article credits Spence as the first to find the wreck of the Hunley

Dr. E. Lee Spence was in the Spring 1999 issue of Millionaire Magazine

Millionaire magazine: “The Vault”

History Magazine: “Raising the Hunley” — this article credits Spence with discovering the wreck in 1970

Argosy — Treasure Hunting ’77 Annual: with “Civil War Shipwrecks” article by Spence

Numerous articles written about (or including) Spence and/or his work have been picked up by AP, UPI and other wire services and have appeared in various issues of over one thousand news publications. A very incomplete list includes USA Today (national); the New York Times (national); World Treasure News (national); Underwater USA (national); the Birmingham News (Birmingham, AL); the Mobile Register (Mobile, AL); the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, AL); the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ); the Herald (Dublin, CA); the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA); the Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, CA); the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, CA); the Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA); the West County Times (Pinole, CA); the Valley Times (Pleasanton, CA); the Record Searchlight (Redding, CA); the Sun (San Bernardino, CA); the Ventura County Star Free Press (Ventura, CA); the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA); the News-Times (Danbury, CT); the Advocate (Stamford, CT); the Delaware State News (Dover, DE); the News Journal (Wilmington, DE); the Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL); the Key West Citizen (Key West, FL); the Miami Herald (Miami, FL); the Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, FL); the Vero Beach Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL); the Albany Sunday Herald (Albany, GA); the Athens Daily News (Athens, GA); the Banner-Herald (Athens, GA); the Atlanta Journal (Atlanta, GA); the Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA); the Sunday Times Georgian (Carrollton, GA); the Daily Citizen-News (Dalton, GA); the Douglas County Sentinel (Douglasville, GA); the Times (Gainesville, GA); the Newnan Times-Herald (Newnan, GA); the Sunday Daily News (Lawrenceville, GA); the Macon Telegraph and News (Macon, GA); the Daily Sun (Warner Robbins, GA); the Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, IL); the Republic (Columbus, IN); the News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, IN); the Muncie Star (Muncie, IN); the Boston Globe (Boston, MA); the Sun (Lowell, MA); the Ellsworth American (Ellsworth, ME); the Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME); the Detroit News (Detroit, MI); the Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI); the Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, MI); the Oakland Sunday Magazine (Oakland, MI); the Times Herald (Port Huron, MI); the Sanilac County News (Port Sanilac, MI); the Diving Times (Royal Oak, MI); the Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC); the Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, NC); the High Point Enterprise (High Point, NC); the Star-Herald (Scottsbluff, NE); the Courier-News (Ridgewater, NJ); the Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); the Newark Star Ledger (Newark, NY); the Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, NY); the Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, OH); the Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK); the Portland Oragonian (Portland, OR); the Public Opinion (Chambersburg, PA); the Erie Morning News (Erie, PA); the Tribune Review (Greensburg, PA); the Daily News PM (Philadelphia, PA); the News (Philadelphia, PA); the Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA); the News and Courier (Charleston, SC); the Evening Post (Charleston, SC); the Gamecock (Columbia, SC); the State (Columbia, SC); the Columbia Record (Columbia, SC); the State (Columbia, SC); the Greenville Piedmont (Greenville, SC); the Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, SC); Moultrie News (Mt. Pleasant, SC); the Times Democrat (Orangeburg, SC); the Dallas Times (Dallas, TX); the Houston Chronicle (Houston, TX); and the Journal Times (Racine, WI).

The Epoch Times: Unburying Treasures: Cartographer Finds Hidden Treasure – How maps help save sunken ships 

CNBC: Diving Into Sunken-Treasure Investing


On Line Interviews & Articles

Detailed article about the conservation and preservation of the Civil War submarine <em>Hunley</em>, which credits Dr. E. Lee Spence with its discovery.

X-Ray magazine (Danish online magazine, published in English): “U.S. Civil War Wreck: H.L. Hunley Submarine” by Brian Chamberlain, who credits Spence as discoverer of the wreck

Dr. Spence with encrusted flintlock pistol

VICE magazine: “Meet the Adventurer Who found Hundreds of Millions Worth of Sunken Treasure Vice described Spence as “a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology, a world-renowned treasure hunter, and just about as close to an actual living, breathing Nathan Drake as you’re ever going to find.”

Dr. Spence in Advertisements...

Advertisement showing Dr. E. Lee Spence holding coral encrusted artifact and Fisher underwater metal detector. It also shows bottles and olive jars recovered from shipwrecks found by Spence during an expedition in South America.

Fisher Research Laboratories Advertisement — Dr. Spence with Underwater Metal Detector

As early as 1971, Spence’s work was already being supported in part by major corporations. Spence’s “Constance Expedition” (a salvage project on the Civil War blockade runner Constance Decimer conducted as a joint venture between Spence’s South Carolina corporation, Artifacts Inc., and a California corporation called Fathom Expeditions Inc.). Corporate sponsors of the project included Rolex Watch Company, Toyota, Mercury Motors, McKee Craft, Barringer Research, Taylor Tool Company, Bendix, Allis-Chalmers and Gulf Oil. The educational research foundation Sea Research Society was formed during this expedition and was officially chartered the following year.

In 2014, the award-winning “BumGenius” cloth diaper company contacted Spence and asked if they could name their newly designed pirate treasure print pattern after him. They explained that all of their print designs were named after geniuses, and he was both an expert on treasure and a member of Mensa. He thought it was hilarious, but quickly agreed. He even helped promote it at no charge. See: https://www.bumgenius.com/collections/spence 

In 2012, Spence entered into separate agreements to endorse Minelab’s “Excalibur II” underwater metal detector and Pharobit’s underwater LED flashlight and digital video recorder with GPS (GCF-200).

When Life Magazine published its March 1987, cover story on treasure hunting, Time-Life’s public relations section asked Spence to help promote that issue of the magazine and arranged various TV and radio interviews. Spence ended up doing a series of interviews on Time-Life’s behalf (including live appearances on such programs as NBC television’s Today Show and Talknet radio’s Owen Spann Show).

Spence has performed paid product endorsement for Seagram’s Classic Wines in relation to bottles of G.H. Mumm Champagne recovered from the wreck of the Canadian steamer Regina. The title of the November 16, 1987, People magazine article on Spence was Ho Ho Hum and a Bottle of Mumm and the article also included a half page picture of Spence pouring a magnum of new Mumm’s Champagne (with the label of it and other bottles clearly showing). Spence was also able to mention G.H. Mumm Champagne by name during numerous live and taped interviews for radio and television. See: Dr. Spence in People magazine, which Spence did at the request of  Time-Life’s public relations department.

Spence’s picture and endorsement has been used in the paid advertising of Fisher Research Laboratories (manufacturers of metal detectors) with ads being published in a number of magazines. Spence has also endorsed Fisher products while being interviewed on TV and radio, and has managed to get photos and mentions of Fisher metal detectors in various articles about Spence’s work. See: Fisher’s advertisement with Spence.

Spence’s name has been used in advertising (magazine ads and direct mail) paid for by Freedom Marine, Ltd., to promote the sale of artifacts and to enhance the overall prestige of the company. Spence appeared on radio and television interviews arranged by Freedom Marine to increase public recognition of Freedom Marine. For examples see full-page ads placed by Freedom Marine in Treasure (January, 1988); Treasure Found (Spring, 1988); Treasure Search (March/April, 1988).

Spence arranged for Edge™ diving computers to be supplied to Freedom Marine Ltd. by Orca Industries and succeeded in mentioning the computers by name on various radio interviews and in explaining the importance of the computers as pertains to safety and productivity. Their products were mentioned by Spence in numerous live interviews including several on the J.P. McCarthy Show (WJR, Detroit, MI), which is the largest single market radio show in North America. Orca’s products were also written up in various magazine and newspaper articles resulting from interviews with Spence.

In 1983 White’s Electronics Inc., at Spence’s request, provided metal detectors to use in conjunction with his “Shipwrecks of South Carolina and Georgia Shipwrecks Project,” which was sponsored in part by the National Endowment of the Humanities, the South Carolina Committee for the Humanities, the Savannah Ships of the Sea Museum, and the College of Charleston. The State of South Carolina subsequently distributed thousands of flyers at the various South Carolina tourist welcome centers, telling of the project. The flyers mentioned White’s Metal Detectors by name. The detectors were also mentioned in various articles and books, which resulted from the project.

Shipwreck Press Inc., and Shipwreck Consultants Inc., (both of which were solely owned by Spence) made extensive use of Spence’s credentials in their paid advertising {For examples of full page ads see Daily Variety (1988 Anniversary Issue); Hollywood Reporter (1988 Anniversary Issue); Low Country News (Volume 7, issue 51); and Seafarers: Journal of Maritime Heritage (Volume 1). Smaller ads have also appeared in various issues of Daily Variety, Hollywood Reporter, California Diver, Florida SCUBA News, Underwater USA, etc.}.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Spence has never endorsed any product, which he did not actually use or which he did not truly feel deserved endorsement. In fact Spence has turned down opportunities to endorse some items simply because he felt their quality was inferior to or indistinguishable from competing products. The following products and/or corporations have been favorably mentioned by Spence in published articles and/or during radio or television interviews without remuneration of any type: magnetometers and underwater metal detectors by JW Fishers Mfg. Inc.; side scan sonar by Klein Associates Inc.; rubber boats by Avon and Zodiac; service by Delta airlines; and beverages such as Dewar’s Scotch; and Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Spence has also used his ability to reach the public through the news media to inform the public of inferior products (ranging from balky autos to awkward drysuits) and/or aggravating service (ranging from that provided by hotel staff to that not provided by public officials). And, just as important, Spence, as a consultant, frequently makes direct product recommendations (ranging from compressors to computers, and boats to barf bags) when clients are outfitting expeditions and/or offices and/or laboratories. Furthermore, when making such a recommendation for a client, Spence passes any rebate or “free” equipment received by him from the manufacturer (as a result of such recommendation) on to the client so there will not be a conflict of interest.