tampabay.com

Talk of the bay: Treasure boats to get Spanish inquisition

By Times Staff
Published June 6, 2007


Spanish officials apparently are tired of guessing where treasure hunter Odyssey Marine Exploration found its most recent haul. According to international news reports, a Spanish judge has ordered police to stop and search two of the Tampa company's vessels if they leave Gibraltar and enter Spanish waters. The purpose: to determine whether the country has a legitimate claim on any of the booty Odyssey has retrieved, including 500, 000 silver coins that might be centuries old. "We are happy to allow Spanish officials and archaeologists on board our ships at any time, " said Odyssey co-founder Greg Stemm. Odyssey, whose stock briefly rocketed last month after it announced the haul, says the shipwreck lies in international waters but won't say exactly where until it verifies the ship's identity. Lawyers for Odyssey and Spain disagree as to whether certain waters are Spanish or international.

Asian flavor added to USF program

The commute to class will be a little longer next fall for some University of South Florida business students. They'll be studying in Singapore, where USF's College of Business plans to offer a business degree through the Center for American Education. The program is expected to attract both Singapore students seeking a degree and Florida students interested in studying abroad for a few weeks or longer. Most of the faculty will be from Florida and will teach a typical 16-week semester in three weeks of intensive sessions twice a day. USF said the Florida students will pay the same tuition they would if they were studying in Tampa.

Caladesi prepared for beach bummer

Nothing's official yet, but Pinellas tourism officials don't think Caladesi Island State Park will lay claim to the title of America's No. 1 beach this year. Caladesi ranked second in the 2006 rankings by Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University professor who goes by the nom de guerre Dr. Beach. Officials were encouraged a couple of months ago that Leatherman was asking lots of questions about the popular barrier island. But with the announcement expected Friday and no call from the doctor, local officials say Caladesi will certainly be an also-ran. It takes weeks to prepare for the live, onsite announcement on NBC's Today show, not to mention subsequent interviews with affiliates around the country. "We're happy as long as we're on the (top 10) list, " says D.T. Minich, Pinellas' tourism boss.