A remarkably low tide has revealed the remnants of a ship in a river delta near Mobile Alabama. Historians believe that this may be the wreck of the Clotilda, a schooner used to bring some 110 slaves from West Africa to Alabama in 1860. The Clotilda is believed to be the last ship to bring slaves to the United States.
A shipwreck found near the coast of Oman is believed to be the oldest yet discovered from Europe’s Golden Age of Exploration. The wreck is believed to be the Esmerelda, a Portuguese vessel from Vasco de Gama‘s fleet that was lost near the island of al-Hallaniyah in a storm in May 1503.
Fortunately, the wreck’s relatively remote location seems to have prevented the site from being looted.
It seems that at least two of the whaling ships lost in the great Arctic whaling fleet disaster of 1871 have been found off the coast of Alaska. It is believed that their discovery may lead marine archaeologists to the sites of the other 30 odd ships lost that terrible autumn. The loss of these vessels, 22 of which were from New Bedford, Massachusetts, helped further the end of the whaling industry in the United States.
The 16th century Swedish shipwreck Mars the Magnificent will now be explored thanks to a grant by the National Geographic Society. Like similar wrecks (the Vasa comes to mind immediately) the wreck of the Mars is expected to yield all sorts of artifacts and give historians and archaeologists a detailed view of what is a fairly famous ship in the history of Sweden.
The ability of human beings to work in an underwater environment has obviously improved pretty dramatically in the last few decades, and our ability to find the wrecks of vessels like the Titanic in thousands of feet of water many decades later is pretty amazing when you think about it.
But there is still a long way to go when it comes to underwater searches. The problems with locating that missing Malaysian Air flight immediately come to mind, but there have been a few other examples lately that make me wonder what the hell we are doing wrong and what we could do to improve.
We seem to have a widespread problem of not finding people in (relatively) shallow waters like lakes, ponds, rivers, and creeks.
At least, I hope so.
For some 75 years or so people have wondered what happened to Amelia Earhart. There have been all sorts of theories about what happened to her and Fred Noonan, but many of them were based on secondhand information, old recollections. or weird conspiracy theories. Now we have some possible archaeological evidence near the island of Nikumaroro. Over the years there have been a variety of clues that indicated a possible landing of the aircraft near this island. Now, these clues are circumstantial, but the cumulative effects seems to have been to encourage further development of the sites near the island. Last year a team thought they may have found landing gear from her aircraft. And now a recent analysis of a sonar scan may indicate the possible location of an aircraft in the area where they have been looking for it.
It would be great if we were finally able to solve this open-ended question of history, not to mention put to rest some of the more absurd theories about what happened.
It’s not often I get to talk about three of my favorite subjects in a single post: cetaceans; 19th century technology; and maritime archaeology. But it seems an exceedingly rare Howell torpedo has been found off the coast of Coronado, California – by dolphins trained by the U.S. Navy.
Honestly, this is amazing. There was only one of these that was known to exist, and now another has been found in the ocean… by dolphins. It just boggles the mind. It makes me wonder if anyone has ever tried using dolphins to deliberately search for shipwrecks.
The continual adaptation of modern technology to the discovery of shipwrecks, especially historically significant shipwrecks, is something that fascinates me. So when I saw this story in Salon about the use of a 3-D sonar to reveal hidden features of a Civil War shipwreck off the coast of Texas, I just had to read it. And if that sort of thing interests you, go check it out, because I am going to babble about history geek stuff for a little while and you might as well understand what I am talking about.