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Published: 14-May-14 12:28:47
Source: CNN Travel News
Author: Anna Ridley
Related: 10-Apr-10 23:11:09
The exact whereabouts of the sunken vessel that took Christopher Columbus on his Caribbean travels has been a mystery for centuries but new findings from archaeological investigators show that the remains of the ship may lie on the ocean floor off the north coast of Haiti. Modern equipment and a team of scuba diving experts have found that the ship is highly likely to be the Santa Maria, the ship Columbus sailed from Spain's Atlantic coast in search of a new western route to Asia.
For centuries, the exact whereabouts of the sunken ship that was sailed by Christopher Columbus on his search for a new western route to Asia, has been a mystery, but archaeological investigators believe they have finally located the vessel.
A team of archaeologists and scuba diving experts, led by Barry Clifford, have been searching for the sunken vessel for more than a decade, but new findings show that the Santa Maria could be lying on the ocean floor off the north coast of Haiti in the Caribbean.
If successful, this could be one of the world's most important archaeological discoveries and the history behind Columbus' famous travels can be explored even further.
"All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus' famous flagship, the Santa Maria," explained Mr Clifford, following a recent scuba diving reconnaissance expedition to the site.
"The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck," he said.
Mr Clifford's team has led the search for several years using marine magnetometers, side-scan sonar equipment and scuba diving professionals. After investigating more than 400 seabed anomalies off the north coast of Haiti, the search as been narrowed down for the Santa Maria down to the tiny area where the wreck lies.
The footprint of the wreck is said to be the same of a vessel the size of the Santa Maria and extracts from the diaries of Columbus, where he describes the location of his fort in Haiti, explain the vessel's location.
Rather than make the vessel a scuba diving destination, Mr Clifford's team and the Haitian authorities are planning to excavate the ship to preserve it and put the remains on permanent public exhibition in a museum in Haiti, which will boost the country's tourism sector.
"We've informed the Haitian government of our discovery – and we are looking forward to working with them and other Haitian colleagues to ensure that the site is fully protected and preserved. It will be a wonderful opportunity to work with the Haitian authorities to preserve the evidence and artefacts of the ship that changed the world," stated Mr. Clifford.
"I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus' discovery of America."
The Caribbean is one of the world's leading scuba diving destinations and the region in teeming with underwater wrecks of vessels, thriving coral reefs and diverse marine creatures.
Divers can go wreck diving to the USS Kittiwake in the Cayman Islands, RMS Rhone, in the Virgin Islands, the Bianca C in Grenada, the Superior Producer in Curacao, and the Pelinaion in Bermuda.
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