Paleontologist's Panel: The Importance of Your Reports
By Dave Cicimurri, South Carolina State Museum
Spring is here, and that means the first quarter of 2015 has come to a close and hobby diver reports are due. With that statement it seems like now is a good time to remind everyone of the responsibilities everyone signed on for as a licensed SC hobby diver. Quarterly reporting is an obligation of the program, not because SCIAA or the SC State Museum thinks it should be done, but because SC State law requires it be done. All hobby divers are expected to file artifact and fossil reports each quarter, even if they only collected fossils, and even if they made no dives at all during the quarter. The reports must include a listing of the types of material collected and at least a general description of where the objects or specimens were recovered. Photographs of what was found and maps/GPS coordinates are not required by law to be included as part of the report, but these are greatly appreciated (more on this below). Please keep in mind that the fossils and artifacts occurring in SC waterways is state property, and licensed hobby divers must retain possession of the things they’ve found until: 1) 60 days have passed since the day reports were filed, or 2) I have contacted the hobby diver regarding their finds, whichever comes first. So, after you’ve heard from me, or on day 61, title to the material that was reported is transferred to the individual.
The official fossil and artifact reports that can be found at http://www.artsandsciences.sc.edu/sciaa/mrd/forms, on the Maritime Research Division web page. These forms were created so that hobby divers could quickly provide the information that State law requires be included in a quarterly report. SCIAA has made reporting even easier by providing an online reporting option. Unfortunately, this option isn’t available for fossil reporting, but divers can print the form and fill it out, then either fax, scan and email, or use traditional post to send it to me. I have even accepted emails and hand written letters from hobby divers as long as the required information is provided (name, license number, listing of material found and where it was found, or statement of “no recoveries”). Remember that dive reports need to be submitted within 10 days after the end of a quarter.
Ok, with all that out of the way, let’s get into why it’s important to submit quarterly reports. Yes, it’s something required by law, but there’s more to it than that. Hobby divers should look at artifact and fossil reporting as a way to help SCIAA and the State Museum to document the historic and prehistoric record of South Carolina. There are many more hobby divers than SCIAA employees (and I can only think of one person actively studying fossils in this state), which means more eyes on the ground/river bottom and greater potential for exciting discoveries. Exciting discoveries have been and continue to be made, with new wrecks being found and unexpected fossil occurrences (like the musk ox skull fragment shown in the photo) being documented. If not for accurate and honest quarterly reporting, these would go unnoticed and opportunities for SCIAA and the State Museum to learn more about our state, and disseminate that knowledge to the general public, would be lost. If you’re not already familiar with this great endeavor, you should visit the South Carolina Artifact Documentation Project’s (SCADP) website at http://scmemory.org/collection/south-carolina-artifact-documentation-project/. Here you’ll find images of all sorts of amazing artifacts and even a few fossils, all of which were collected from SC waterways but hobby divers. This is a fantastic collaborative effort that provides hobby divers with a way to share their discoveries of SC historic/prehistoric material with anyone with an internet connection. I could go on and on here, and I think the new MRD newsletter format would allow for that, but I’ll begin closing this article by encouraging all hobby divers to think of quarterly reporting way for everyone to learn more about South Carolina, rather than a necessary evil of being a licensed diver. As always, I can be reached at dave.cicimurri@scmuseum, or (803) 898-4946. My voice and email boxes fill quickly and it’s sometimes it’s nearly impossible to keep up, but I will return messages ASAP. Good luck on future dives!
Photo at top of article – View of the underside of the left part of the skull of a fossil (Pleistocene) musk ox. The horn’s core is at the bottom. Musk oxen are arctic animals – what does that tell us about what South Carolina was like when the fossil animal was alive?