A shipwreck estimated to be roughly 200 years old has been discovered off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists made the incredible find during an expedition led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, while working aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer.
The heavily decayed remains of the wooden-hulled vessel, believed to date from the early-19th Century, included artefacts such as navigation equipment, anchors, ceramic plates, an iron stove, glass bottles, cannons and a box of muskets. The bounty was discovered with the assistance of underwater robots and high definition cameras. Frank Cantelas, a maritime archaeologist with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, told newswires:
“This discovery was part of a larger mission to look at unknown or poorly-known areas in the Gulf of Mexico. The site is in over 4,000 feet of water and we knew nothing about it — we just had a fuzzy image from a sonar recording, which is like a camera but uses sound instead of light. But we wanted to see what it was because it was shaped like it could be a shipwreck.”
An NOAA statement added:
“The 56-day expedition that ended April 29 was exploring poorly known regions of the Gulf, mapping and imaging unknown or little-known features and habitats, developing and testing a method to measure the rate that gas rises from naturally-occurring seeps on the seafloor, and investigating potential shipwreck sites.”
And the ship could yet assist researchers in other areas. Cantelas admitted that archaeologists and historians could reap the benefits of the find:
“Archaeologically, this is a very significant find. It appears to date back to the early 1800s and a lot was going on in the Gulf of Mexico around that time. You have the Louisiana Purchase, the Texas Revolution, the Mexican-American War — a lot of conflict in that region […] So this research will hopefully help us fill in the blank pages of history. It will provide information that we don’t really know about the history of the Gulf region.”