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Aqua-Vu helping find Bering Sea gold

CROSSLAKE--The allure of treasure hunting remains as strong and zealous as the day The Great Belzoni unearthed the colossal bust of Ramesses II in the early 19th century, or when explorer Mel Fisher chanced upon a now-legendary $450 million cache...

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CROSSLAKE-The allure of treasure hunting remains as strong and zealous as the day The Great Belzoni unearthed the colossal bust of Ramesses II in the early 19th century, or when explorer Mel Fisher chanced upon a now-legendary $450 million cache aboard a Spanish wreck in 1985.

The modern day "gold rush" is indeed alive and well, as men such as Captain Vernon Adkinson of Discovery Channel's Bering Sea Gold reality show mine the sea floor for copious deposits of gold.

One advantage these modern hunters have is technology like Aqua-Vu high definition underwater cameras.

In his attempts to revolutionize underwater mining, Adkinson has spent over a million dollars on the best high-tech equipment, recently employing a $250,000 bottom crawler. This past season, Adkinson also added eight Aqua-Vu high definition underwater viewing systems to his treasure-hunting plan, according to an Aqua-Vu news release.

"The Aqua-Vu HD cam allows us to see what the diver sees," says the sea captain and prospector. "We can see what the bottom looks like, what material the diver is working in. If we don't find gold or don't see the right type of bottom, we move."

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Adkinson notes that the Aqua-Vu aids communication with the diver, as well, which adds an extra layer of safety.

One of the richest marine gold reserves in the world, the Bering Sea near Nome Alaska has produced over 112 metric tons of the precious metal. And now, thanks to technology borrowed from the sportfishing industry, Adkinson and his Wild Ranger Gold Company are mining the valuable mineral more efficiently.

"The gold we're looking for is very fine in consistency. We call it flour gold, while some of the bigger pieces are like corn flakes. Due to constant underwater currents, there's a lot of gold wafting back and forth down there. The camera helps us identify some of these high percentage areas."

Below the surface, a mining-diver operates a powerful vacuum, capable of siphoning large rocks from the bottom. Attached to the diver are four cables. One provides oxygen and another delivers hot water, while a light and the Aqua-Vu underwater camera (which has its own separate infrared light) connect to either side of the diver's mask.

Above, stationed in a mobile mining shelter atop 2 to 6 feet of Bering Sea ice, Adkinson and his team observe what's happening underwater on a large screen TV connected to the HD fish camera. "The Aqua-Vu video helps us cover underwater real estate more efficiently. We can see where we've already been. It also gives the next diver a glimpse of the underwater conditions. The communication factor is a big plus, too. From above, we might see things the diver misses and can guide him in the right direction.

Creator of Aqua-Vu, the original Underwater Viewing System, Outdoors Insight, Inc. is based out of Crosslake.

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