A wreck (called in law Latin, wreccum maris, and in law French, wrec de mer,) signifies such goods, as after a shipwreck, are cast upon land by the sea, and left there within some county, so as not to belong to the jurisdiction of the admiralty, but to the common law.
The term `wreck of the sea' includes, 1. Goods found at low water, between high and low water mark; and 2. Goods between the same limits, partly resting on the ground, but still moved by the water.
When goods have touched the ground, and have again been floated by the tide, and are within low water mark; whether they are to be considered wreck will depend upon the circumstances whether they were, seized by a person wading, or swimming, or in a boat. But if a human being, or even an animal, as a dog, cat, hawk, etc. escape alive from the ship, or if there be any marks upon the goods by which they may be known again, they are not, at common law, considered as wrecked. The Act of Congress of March 1, 1823, provides that, before any goods, wares or merchandise, which may be taken from any wreck, shall be admitted to an entry, the same shall be appraised in the manner prescribed in the sixteenth section of this act and the same proceedings shall be ordered and executed in all cases where a reduction of duties shall be claimed on account of damage which any goods, wares, or merchandise, shall have sustained in the course of the voyage and in all cases where the owner, importer, consignee, or agent, shall be dissatisfied with such appraisement, he shall be entitled to the privileges provided in the eighteenth section of this act.