Underwater Metal Detecting

Monday, September 30, 2013
Bart McCollum with his JW Fishers Pulse 8X detector on the Sea Hunter, Inset photo – Bill Nichols with his Pulse 8X and recovered wedding ring.

Many recreational scuba divers are discovering the fun and excitement an underwater metal detector can bring to their diving. Taking a detector to a site they’ve dove dozens of times before turns it into a completely new experience.


Even divers that have “done it all” -- underwater photography, spearfishing, rebreathers, scooters, etc. -- are surprised with the thrill they get finding things with a detector.

Bart McCollum lives in Midland, Texas and loves lake diving.  “I’ve dove in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and its nice, but I just love the local lakes. Bart keeps his boat Sea Hunter on 19,000 acre Possum Kingdom Lake. “I’ve been diving for more than 40 years, and still get a kick out of it, but I like to do something when I’m down there. I enjoy spear fishing, and have shot a lot of game fish, but there’s only so many fish you can eat. So awhile back I got myself an underwater metal detector and have had more fun with that thing. I take my boat to what I call “the party coves”, where folks go to drink and swim. They loose all kinds of stuff...coins, jewelry, sunglasses, watches...you name it. I like to take my JW Fishers Pulse 8X detector to these spots, especially after the big summer holiday weekends, and comb the bottom. When metal detecting, it’s a different kind of diving because you’re focused on the lake bed. It’s amazing the stuff you find, some of just sitting there. It makes me wonder how much loot I’ve passed over in all my years of diving without a detector.”


Bill Nichols owner of Timber Bay Sport and Dive Center in Wisconsin is also into underwater detecting. Not long ago he received a frantic call from panic stricken man raving about the gold wedding ring he’d just lost in North Two Lakes. Bill grabbed his scuba gear and his Pulse 8X detector and headed for the water. After scanning the silty bottom for only 20 minutes, the detector’s underwater earphone gave a loud wail indicating a target had been located. Sticking his hand into the muck beneath the coil, Bill felt the unmistakable shape of a ring and plucked the lost wedding band from the bottom.

Another diver enthusiastic about detecting is Canadian Craig Quinn. “I bought the Pulse 8X because of its commercial-grade construction and because it’s the choice of professional treasure hunters and archaeologists worldwide.” He took his detector to the Magdalen Islands which were once owned by famous Boston explorer and British officer Richard Gridley. The islands were home to an extensive seal population harvested for their pelts and meat. In just a few hours Quinn located more than 500 musket balls and a number of 1720s coins.

In the United Kingdom Chris Gait is using his underwater metal detector to assist archaeologists at the University of Plymouth working on the historic Cattewater Wreck. The Cattewater was constructed during the late 15th century, a period that marked the beginning of a revolution in naval ship design. Chris was part of a volunteer group of divers whose first task was to find a metal scaffold quadrant left on the site during the 1970s when the wreck was first discovered and explored. The scaffold was presumed to be sunk deep in the silt and Chris’s Pulse 8X detector was the perfect tool to locate it.

One of the great features of an underwater metal detector is its ability to work above and below water. Some detectors, like the Pulse 8X, come with all the accessories needed for land and underwater detecting, making them in effect, two detectors in one. The 8X is popular with many land detector enthusiasts, especially those searching for meteorites in the deserts of America’s southwest and the large fields of the Midwest. According to local Stacy Brown, “collectors pay serious money for some of these space rocks”. The Pulse Induction technology (PI) used in underwater detectors make them ideal for searching deserts and other areas with a high mineral content because PI machines ignore mineralization in the ground. Another advantage of Fishers PI machines is the interchangeable coil feature that allows different size heads to be attached to the detector’s electronics unit. This makes the Pulse 8X ideal for meteor hunters because they can  attach the large 8 x 48 inch oval coil and mount it on the front of an all terrain vehicle (ATV). The four foot wide detection envelope allows large areas to be searched quickly. The  PI detector’s ability to ignore minerals also makes it a popular choice for mining. Often precious metal such as gold are found in areas with high iron deposits. One of these miners is Geri Clem who’s using his Pulse 8X in Hispaniola. He writes, “We found a placer deposit along with a copper deposit using old reliable. This detector is a real work horse. I wouldn’t waste my time with anything else.”


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