Christopher Columbus's Santa Maria Ship Found after 500 Years off Haiti's Coast

A recent expedition by archeological investigators on the north coast of Haiti suggests that, more than 500 years after it sank, the wreckage of 'Santa Maria', the flagship vessel of Christopher Columbus' might be sitting on at the bottom of the ocean near Haiti since the Christmas Day, 1492. Barry Clifford, an explorer well known for discovering the remains of a wrecked pirate ship 'Whydah' in 1984 and more recently Captain Kidd's flagship off Madagascar, was the leader of this expedition team. As per his statement, the detailed marine archaeological evidence strongly suggests that the wreck is 'Santa Maria' that Columbus used on his first voyage in 1492. Perhaps we remember that, along with Santa Maria, Columbus used two other smaller ships, Santa Clara or La Niña and La Pinta--all the three ships were very old, never suitable for any exploration adventure. Santa Maria ran aground, and the waves smashed it to pieces. Leaving some of his men to build a fort, Columbus had returned to Spain in La Niña.

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In 2003, few researchers were able to pinpoint the probable location of Columbus fort nearby by matching the site with historical knowledge. Clifford has spent almost a decade before narrowing down to the exact tiny area of the wreck, and he used Columbus' diary, which described where the ship sank in relation to his fort. Although he had photographed the wreck before, but never realized that the wreck is Santa Maria.

The evidence they have found so far is substantial. The footprint of the wreck caused by the ship's ballast is evident. In the wreck, they have found artifacts and an early cannon similar to what Columbus had carried as per early documents. Mr. Clifford has appreciated the cooperative role of Haitian government on the expedition. He is confident that if the state of preservation permits to lift the buried timbers, the surviving remains of the vessel may be used to build a replica for a permanent exhibition in a museum in Haiti. This will have a positive effect on Haiti's tourism industry.

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