Skip to Content

College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division


The MRD issues and manages Hobby Licenses for small scale, non-commercial search and recovery of submerged property, as well as Intensive Survey Licenses and Data Recovery Licenses for disturbance or excavation of submerged property.

A Hobby License is mandatory for any persons wishing to conduct temporary, intermittent, recreational, small scale, non-commercial search and recovery of submerged property. It is a state-wide license and the only such program in the nation. Recovery of submerged property must be by hand and must not involve mechanical devices or excavation. Hobby divers may recover a reasonable number of artifacts and fossils from submerged lands over which the state has sovereign control, but may recover only ten artifacts a day from a shipwreck site. Each licensee must submit an itemized report of his/her finds to the Institute (for artifacts) and the Museum (for fossils) on a quarterly basis and, within 60 days of receipt of each report, the Institute shall release title of the reported finds to the licensee. For more information on the Hobby License Program or questions about the license, visit the Hobby License page or contact the Charleston Office at

The Institute may also issue two types of Exclusive Licenses for the disturbance or excavation of submerged property, if it is in the best interests of the state, and the applicant has completed application which includes specific research plans. An Intensive Survey License, which may be issued for up the 90 days, permits the licensee to carry out intensive survey of a specific area which the applicant believes may contain submerged property. A Data Recovery License, which may be issued for up to one year, permits the licensee to conduct excavation and data recovery on submerged property, if the applicant has submitted positive results of an intensive survey. Renewal of both types of licenses may be requested by the licensee. For more information, visit the Exclusive License page or contact State Underwater Archaeologist Jim Spirek.