Underwater Archaeology Programs

Diving with a Purpose (DWP) is a volunteer underwater archaeology program that partners with Biscayne National Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. DWP trains experienced divers to assist in the documentation and preservation of underwater archaeological sites. Last year, DWP also launched Youth Diving With a Purpose (YDWP) geared to youth ages 15-23.

Biscayne National Park is the largest marine park in the national park system and has more than 110 archaeological sites, including 43 intact shipwrecks. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has hundreds of undocumented wreck sites, many of which are of historic value. DWP performs extensive underwater archaeological documentation of shipwrecks, surveys their condition, and develops detailed maps. To date, DWP participants have documented 14 shipwrecks and accumulated more than 12,000 volunteer hours. DWP volunteer efforts offer significant assistance to the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both of which have limited archaeological staff onsite.

DWP and YDWP offer intense week-long programs teaching the basics of underwater archaeology. The programs consist of three days of diving and three days of land instruction and research, culminating in final drawings of the sites under study.

In addition to undertaking underwater archaeological work, DWP participants serve as public advocates for the protection of underwater archaeological resources. DWP and YDWP members have made more than 80 presentations about their work to civic organizations, youth groups, and professional organizations.

Designated a Preserve America Steward in October 2014.