N.S. MLA seeks to change rules for Oak Island treasure hunters
Tales of buried treasure have enticed treasure hunters to Nova Scotia’s Oak Island for more than two centuries.
Now, a local MLA wants to change the rules for Oak Island treasure hunters. But some fear the changes could keep the island’s history and treasure buried forever.
“The island’s heritage objects could be damaged during the search for treasure if changes aren’t made to the Oak Island Treasure Act,” said NDP MLA Denise Peterson-Rafuse at the Nova Scotia legislature on Thursday.
She has introduced a bill to amend the Oak Island Treasure Act, but treasure hunters believe the current regulations are enough.
“There are guidelines in place which protect Oak Island, which is Nova Scotian Heritage, and we understand that, but we believe we have behaved with honour and integrity in our discovery work and we will continue to do that,” says treasure hunter Rick Lagina.
Dan Blankenship lives on Oak Island with his son, Davis. He moved to Oak Island from the United States 49 years ago and, during that time, Blankenship has spent a small fortune looking for buried treasure.
“We have found certain clues over the period of time, in certain areas, that have kept us involved all these many years,” says Blankenship.
Oak Island is now the focus of a reality television show, increasing the hype around the fabled island.
“Nobody knows what is here, nobody knows where it is. There's hundreds of theories here and that's the fascination with the place,” says Charles Barkhouse, a member of the Friends of Oak Island Society, which offers walking tours to the public.
“This is a mystery and who doesn't love a mystery?”
The Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage says it is working on a policy, not a legislative change, that would require treasure seekers to pay for an archeologist on site.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl