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The distinction is important (and not just so you can impress friends during trivia games) because, under maritime law, the original owner can reclaim flotsam, whereas it's generally a case of "finders, keepers" in the case of discovered jetsam.
Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship's load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.
Mr. Okene, 29, only drew the attention of the divers when, by chance, he saw the light of a torch piercing the waters which were gradually rising around him.In this moving video, you will see Mr. Okene reach out to the diver and hold his hand at the 5min 38sec mark. [If the video below is no longer working, click here].