An American scuba diver appeared in an Australian court Friday, charged with swimming into a protected shipwreck on the Great Barrier Reef.
Edward Antonovich, of Tarrytown, N.Y., faces a maximum two-year sentence if convicted.
He was arrested by Australian authorities Thursday after a dive into the 92-year-old SS Yongala wreck off Townsville, in northeast Australia.
The 33-year-old did not enter a plea before Townsville Magistrates Court, where he was charged with breaking rules that bar divers from penetrating the hull and intact deck levels of the ship, which sank during a cyclone in 1911, killing 120 people.
The prosecution is believed to be the first of its kind in Queensland state, which is a magnet for divers from around the world who want to explore the Great Barrier Reef.
The rules, part of the Historic Shipwrecks Act, are aimed at preventing unnecessary rusting of wrecks from a diver’s oxygen bubbles.
Antonovich was granted bail by Magistrate Brian Smith on condition he surrender all passports and provide bond of $1,320.
The court was told Antonovich was born in Australia but moved to the United States with his parents and has lived there most of his life.
He came to Australia to attend his father’s funeral in Perth and extended his trip to include some diving.
Antonovich was due back in court Monday.
Source: Bradenton Herald