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A Grand Opening

5:00 PM -- From today's PR pile an item that proves there is no better way to celebrate the grand opening of a shipwreck museum than to board up the shop windows, lace up your running shoes, and flee from the path of Hurricane Katrina:

HEADLINE: Odyssey's Shipwreck & Treasure Adventure Grand Opening and Hurricane Katrina Update

DATELINE: TAMPA, Fla. Aug. 29, 2005

Odyssey Marine Exploration (AMEX:OMR), a leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, celebrated the grand opening of the first Odyssey Shipwreck & Treasure Adventure on Saturday, August 27 at the Jax Brewery complex in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

In spite of the hurricane bearing down on New Orleans, the event was well attended by a crowd that filled Decatur Street in a lively parade and included dignitaries from the Louisiana Governor's office, the New Orleans Mayor's office and other local politicians who attended to show their support for the attraction. Proclamations from the Governor, the Mayor and the City Council demonstrated the significant amount of support that Odyssey's attraction is receiving. August 27 was even proclaimed "Odyssey Shipwreck and Treasure Adventure Day" in the City of New Orleans.

Initial feedback from attendees who had the opportunity to experience the attraction indicated that their experience was first rate and surpassed their expectations.

The attraction was closed early on the Grand Opening day as a safety precaution and both Tampa-based and New Orleans-based employees secured artifacts and the facility over the weekend, following the institution of the company's security and hurricane safety plan.

All Tampa-based employees were safely evacuated and have returned or are en route to Tampa, and our New Orleans-based employees have taken appropriate safety precautions and evacuated the city or have moved to appropriate shelter. Odyssey has posted a 24 hour security detail at the attraction, and the report as of Noon EST today from the site was that the building is secure, and aside from one small roof leak and some wet carpet, there has been no damage. At one point, water had risen in the street to the first step leading into the building but has now begun to recede, according to Odyssey's security detail at the site.

Luckily, the attraction is on the third floor on the safest side of the building, and Jax Brewery is on some of the highest ground in the French Quarter. The attraction is fully insured including flood and business interruption coverage.

"It was a harrowing day preparing for Katrina, but no matter what the result of the hurricane, we are sure that the awesome spirit of the people of New Orleans will prevail," commented Greg Stem, Odyssey's co-founder. "In the short time we were open, I was ecstatic about the feedback from both adults and children alike. No one has ever seen anything like this attraction, and I believe we have the makings of a fantastic new aspect to our business. Right now, we are focusing on the safety of our employees and the people in Katrina's path and stand ready to do as much as possible to contribute to assisting our new neighbors in New Orleans."

Has there ever been a press release that tried as hard to celebrate and stay somber at the same time? Is your face tired after reading that?

Also, is there anything that could be worse than being part of a 24-hour security detail in charge of guarding wreckage while there's a hurricane raging outside?

And how reassuring is it to be on "some of the highest ground in the French Quarter" when the entire Quarter is BELOW sea level?

Ah, well. In the end, Mr. Stem was right. The spirit of the people of New Orleans did prevail. The city got clobbered, but the shipwreck museum wasn't destroyed... that we know of. — Phil Harvey, Happy Fun Sadness Editor, Light Reading

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