He has been diving since childhood, when he became enchanted by the beautiful colors under the sea off the Turkish coast, has become a renowned expert in underwater archaeology, discovered the world's oldest shipwreck in 2018, and today is his underwater work aided by SeaQuest Dive watch from Chronotechna. Meet Hakan Öniz, professor at Akdeniz University in Antalya.
The oldest trade shipwreck in the world was found in 2018, by a team of six divers at the coastline of Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea. The wreck is around 250 years older than the previous "oldest" shipwreck, dating up to the 16th century B.C. Prior research to this Bronze age excavation took about seven years. “We've been using various techniques to collect information, asking local people and our captain which site is the most dangerous for him. Usually, places which are dangerous for him were already 3000 years ago, so we always try to look at these places," mentions Dr. Öniz.
The shipwreck was found at a depth of 56 meters and took one year of excavation under the water. The maximum depth to dive in with Scuba diving device with air tank is 65 meters. Danger rises when deeper than 40 meters, with time away from the recompression chamber. That is where an accurate, durable watch is most important for him. If a diver needs to stay there for 15 minutes and leaves a minute or even ten or five seconds later, there is a significant risk of decompression sickness. "The seconds are vital for our life, for our safety. Just because of 10 seconds, you must stay at recompression stop for another 15 minutes to avoid the sickness, which can occur even a few months later, and SeaQuest Dive watch makes sure that this won't happen to me," he says.
Nothing seems dangerous enough for him anyway. If minimum safety rules are obeyed, you can explore this fantastic world. "Having a recompression chamber was a huge obstacle for us only two years ago. Now with the help of Jan Sýkora and his friends, we have a modern recompression chamber on a nearby ship. We are even finishing a new ship in a few weeks, thanks to a great contribution from Chronotechna, which auctioned a limited edition of SeaQuest Dive Azzure Deep for this cause for 25 thousand euros. This new ship will be essential for the future of underwater archaeology," adds Dr. Öniz.
What has sparked such passion for him? His underwater story started right away with the first look into deep through an old mask of his dad. As he saw all those beautiful colors, different tones, and some ceramic objects, it all ignited his curiosity. "My dad understood my interests, and instead of forcing me into reading some boring books for a teenage boy, he bought me Mediterranean Turkish pirate's books, as they were a big part of Turkish history. As a teenager, being 13 years old, I found everything important there – adventures, ships, pirate life, and beautiful girls," he laughs.
He helped his family collect oysters for dinner, breathing air through an old pipe from his parent's balcony. Then he realized scuba diving would be the right thing for him to learn. He learned to dive, became a diving instructor, and then opened a diving school, which further grew his passion and curiosity. And finally, he joined University to study underwater archaeology. Story developing quite distinctively than usually.
However, human time is very limited for underwater archaeologists. "We managed to find 321 shipwrecks, but I must say that this is not even 10 percent, maybe only 1 percent of the Mediterranean coastline. We are just at the drop of the sea" he smiles. Underwater cultural heritage is full of fascinating discoveries. Nevertheless, it is still impossible to explore depths of 200 meters with a scuba device, even though technologies budge in to help break new possibilities. Still, as his team is part of 3 important organizations, UNESCO, ICOMOS, and CMAS, all of their actions have a global impact. It is one thing to do for Turkey and another for the rest of the world, making it a perfect match for Chronotechna's story.