Those who die at sea might never leave the water — body or soul. And if they’re still there, perhaps haunting the reefs and shipwrecks where they perished, Paranormal Divers aims to find them.
The Cape Coral-based company is preparing for a summer of ghost-hunting in Bay area waters, with investigations of the Gunsmoke, a shrimp trawler that mysteriously sank with a cargo of marijuana 14 miles west of Egmont Key in 1977; the Blackthorn, a Coast Guard buoy tender that collided with a freighter in 1980, killing 23 seamen; and the waters beneath the old Sunshine Skyway, where 35 people died after a freighter rammed the bridge in ‘80.
“We pick a wreck that has some potentially haunted history and then we check it out,“ says Lee Ehrlich, president of Ghost Pros Paranormal Inc.
The company films its search and sells the videos, which weave in the story of the site — fact and lore — and the Paranormal Divers’ experience.
“We look for the stories, the romance,“ Ehrlich says. “We’re putting the ghost back in the ghost ship.“
At each site, the dive team first sets up sonar drones to record the underwater sounds. The recordings are analyzed “to determine what sounds you are not suppose to hear ... possibly sounds of the paranormal,“ Ehrlich says.
To capture the sights, Paranormal Divers has teamed with Tampa-based SeaViewer Underwater Video Systems, whose clients include The Discovery Channel, NOAA’s National Weather Service, The Army Engineers and ESPN. SeaViewer’s high-definition studio cameras were used to film scenes in the Russell Crowe movie “Master and Commander”.
Once all the recorded data is collected, Ghost Pros will plan a nighttime excursion. At the Gunsmoke, Ehrlich says, divers will thoroughly explore the wreckage.
“What makes the Gunsmoke compelling is nobody knows what happened,“ he says.
The trawler was found abandoned and sinking in January 1977, according to news accounts. Ehrlich says two people disappeared.
“We want to go into that ship, really see what’s in there,“ he says.
The divers will also watch for the telltale glow of bioluminescence light forms and listen for unusual sounds.
Ehrlich says he’s not trying to convince anyone of paranormal activity.
“We offer our evidence in good-faith for both Scientific (as applicable) and Entertainment value, and it is up to the viewer to believe what he or she feels is the truth,“ according to a disclaimer at http://www.ghostpros.com.
But the sites Ghost Pros explores are rich in lore, and the explorations are fascinating, Ehrlich says.
“If you were to die in some strange setting,“ he says, “wouldn’t you want to know that someone was looking for you?“