Southeast Student Diver Discovers Shipwreck in Mediterranean Sea


by News Bureau on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

Photo of Jennifer Rickard discovering shipwreck in Mediterranean Sea

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 23, 2011 — Southeast Missouri State University anthropology student Jennifer Rickard recently discovered a shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea with six other participants in an underwater archaeological school program offered by the Cape of Cavalleria Ecomuseum on the island of Menora, Spain.

Punics, Romans, Arabs, English, French and Spanish have all conquered Menorca at one time or another in an attempt to dominate the Mediterranean Sea. The port was part of the Roman Empire for over 600 years and is littered with artifacts deposited over the past two millennia.

Rickard, of Cape Giardeau, received a scholarship from the Harryette Campbell Scholarship Foundation to participate in the summer program. She and the other divers explored Sanisera and the port of Sanitja. The previously unknown shipwreck the team found is thought to be of 16th-or 17th-century origin. According to the course director, Fernando Contreras, the ship was charred by fire, and often significant artifacts are left onboard as passengers and crew hastily flee burning vessels.

Rickard received a letter of recommendation from the Cape of Cavalleria Ecomuseum for her work there, along with the standard Certificate of Completion.

“Experiences like this one I had in Menorca are confidence builders that give me a chance to explore my capabilities. Through setting long-term and short-term goals, I can begin to define and identify the steps toward personal success,” she said.

Before she left for the trip, Rickard’s father gave her specialized diving goggles with a high-definition video camera mounted inside them. She shot every dive and a few things on land and created a short documentary about her adventure, which can be seen at

“The idea is to share with others the concept of being able to go out themselves and be a part of these great programs,” she said.

Rickard began developing her passion for archaeology the day she stepped into AN 181, “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.”

“From that moment, I knew I was heading in the right direction,” she said.

She added that the connections she made in the Department of Global Cultures and Languages helped her gain confidence.

“For someone who has always been viewed by friends as a little offbeat, the anthropology lounge became a safe haven for me to share and discuss ideas among peers,” she said. This semester, Rickard is working as a teaching assistant to Dr. Warren Anderson, professor of anthropology, in his AN181 class, “Introduction to Anthropology.”

Rickard is originally from St. Louis, but her family moved to Littleton, Colo., shortly after she was born. At 19, she moved back to Missouri and has remained in Cape Girardeau ever since. She seeks out adventures outside of the country often. She has traveled to Japan, China, the Philippines, Mexico and Austria. Since completing her recent underwater diving program, she considers Menorca her favorite place to visit.

“I fell in love with the culture, the weather, the diving and the experience. I hope to do another underwater field school in Bermuda next summer,” she said.

Aside from her passions of anthropology and diving, Rickard has an interest in flying. She has spent over 100 hours over the past year flying helicopters at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport while working toward her pilot license.

“I plan to eventually earn a living flying for hire. This should help pay for school as I go on to my master’s degree and eventually my doctorate,” she said.

Rickard is considering pursuing a master’s degree in maritime archaeology. She wants to inspire others and let them know opportunities like hers are obtainable.

She encourages future Southeast students, “You only have one shot at life. What are you going to do with it? Great things only happen if you make them happen.”