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article image200-year-old shipwreck discovered on Gulf of Mexico floor

By Leigh Goessl     May 19, 2012 in World
A remarkable discovery has been made in the Gulf of Mexico. During a recent expedition, a shipwreck was uncovered at the depths of the Gulf's floor.
It is believed the wooden-hulled vessel sank about 200 years ago.
The expedition was conducted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and partners, according to a NOAA press release.
The underwater voyage was prompted by a 2011 discovery when an oil and gas survey was being carried out for the Shell Oil Company in the Gulf of Mexico. An unknown sonar contact was found, and this led to further exploration.
Before permits are granted, BOEM requires surveys and archeological assessments, to aid in decision making.
Scientists aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer explored the wreck site further using high definition cameras and underwater robots.
This led to the 19th century remains being found, along with numerous artifacts, surrounding the section of the Gulf's floor where the boat's remains lay. Footage shows the ship's hull, various ceramics, a cannon, bottles and numerous other items.
NOAA footage captures image of a 19th century cannon
NOAA footage captures image of a 19th century cannon
“Artifacts in and around the wreck and the hull’s copper sheathing may date the vessel to the early to mid-19th century,” said Jack Irion, Ph.D., a maritime archaeologist with BOEM. “Some of the more datable objects include what appears to be a type of ceramic plate that was popular between 1800 and 1830, and a wide variety of glass bottles. A rare ship’s stove on the site is one of only a handful of surviving examples in the world and the second one found on a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Okeanos Explorer was equipped with telepresence technology which allowed audiences across the globe to watch the 56-day expedition live through an online feed, reported CNN. In all, 29 dives were made during the months of March and April.
screengrab of NOAA footage showing artifacts lying on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico from 19th cent...
screengrab of NOAA footage showing artifacts lying on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico from 19th century shipwreck
Fred Corell, public affairs officer for NOAA’s office of Exploration and Research, noted the value of telepresence technology, stating it allowed individuals with various expertise to bring their knowledge and input to the table.
“They could actually look at the wreck sites while it was happening. And this way research is not limited by the number of people who are actually on the ship," Corell said, reported Mason County Daily News.
Explorers, scientists and historians are hopeful the finds in this largely unexplored area will uncover more stories hidden beneath the waters. This region is significant because of historical events such as the Louisiana Purchase, the Texas Revolution, and the Mexican-American War occurring here.
“Shipwrecks help to fill in some of the unwritten pages of history,” said Frank Cantelas, a maritime archaeologist with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research in NOAA's press release. “We explored four shipwrecks during this expedition and I believe this wreck was by far the most interesting and historic. The site is nearly 200 miles off the Gulf coast in over 4,000 feet of water in a relatively unexplored area.”
What other hidden secrets the waters across the globe hold may never surface, however, as technology progresses, it is not uncommon to hear of new discoveries, such as last year's find in Finland. This led to the recent finding that 19th century beer may be able to be replicated.
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