Google Earth Sparks Texas Treasure Dispute
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2009 6:13 PM CST
A pair of rings recovered from the sea by divers.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A California man who used Google Earth to locate a 19th century Spanish treasure ship is suing for the right to excavate on private land, ABC News reports. Nathan Smith drove to Refugio, Texas, after spotting evidence—what it was isn’t clear—from a satellite photo. The case of Smith v. Abandoned Ship has landed in federal court, where his lawyer hopes maritime law will fall on their side.

Smith’s lawyer said the ship, if it exists, is fair game for salvage. A lawyer for the owners said it is “offensive that somebody could go on Google Earth” and “see a ship and come in and say I want to dig up your property. They have no proof anything is there.” One explorer said local features named after the type of boat in the legend indicate “that there was, or is, something buried out there.”