The total demand for salvage tug services is significantly down from its peaks in the years around World War II.
The increasing sensitivity of societies and legal systems to environmental damage and the increasing size of ships has to some extent offset the decline in the number of salvage operations undertaken. Accidents such as major oil tanker groundings or sinkings may require extensive salvage efforts to try and minimize the environmental damage (see Exxon Valdez oil spill, Amoco Cadiz, Torrey Canyon and in general Category:Oil spills).
In 1943, Jacques Cousteau's team made the film Épaves (Shipwrecks), in which they used two of the very first Aqua-Lung prototypes. Subsequently, he investigated, filmed, and wrote about his experiences on numerous other wreck and salvage operations.
James Cameron's inspiration for making the film Titanic (1997) was predicated on his fascination with shipwrecks, and the film interweaves the stories of treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team, who explore the wreck of RMS Titanic, searching for a valuable diamond necklace called the Heart of the Ocean, and Titanic survivor Rose Dawson Calvert, who posed nude for a sketch Lovett salvaged, wearing only the Heart of the Ocean.
Ghost Ship a film about an ocean liner which disappeared in mysterious circumstances is discovered by a maritime salvage contractor. Tragity strikes the salvage crew as they discover the true secrets of the ship.