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Astronaut’s ‘Space Map’ leads to amazing discovery in Caribbean

Analysis of the anchor reveals that it dates to between 1492 and 1550 and weighs between 545 kilograms and 680 kilograms (1,200 and 1,500 pounds). This was the typical size and weight of a bower anchor from a 300-ton vessel usually seen in a Columbus-era ship.

The discovery will be revealed on the third episode of the Discovery Channel’s documentary, “Cooper’s Treasure,” that air on Tuesday night’s at 10 p.m. “That anchor is from Christopher Columbus,” historical shipwreck discovery specialist Darrell Miklos, who led the Caribbean expedition, said in the first episode. “I am telling you, stick around, this is just the beginning of an amazing story.”

And it really is an amazing story because it is so far-fetched, it is difficult to believe. Miklos discovered the anchor using a map created by his late friend, NASA Astronaut Gordon Cooper, who died from Parkinson’s disease in 2004, according to Fox News.

U.S. astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (right) and Charles Conrad Jr. walk across the deck of the reco...

U.S. astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (right) and Charles Conrad Jr. walk across the deck of the recovery aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39) following splashdown and recovery from the ocean, 29 August 1965.
NASA – Great Images in NASA

Gordon Cooper’s Space Treasure Map
Gordon Cooper was one of NASA’s original space pioneers, breaking a record for the longest space flight while completing a 122-hour mission in the 1960s. At the time, Gordon was “possibly on a mission to detect nuclear threats,” according to Fox News.
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However, Cooper did notice some anomalies in the southern Caribbean region and he photographed over 100 of them. The anomalies were dark patches that showed up on his photographs, and he thought one explanation for them could be that they were shipwrecks, including Christopher Columbus’ lost fleet, according to Discovery Channel.

Cooper worked in secret for years, refining his maps until he created one he thought would lead someone to the spot that would uncover billions of pounds worth of treasure. Before his death, Cooper shared his secret map with his long-time friend, Darrell Miklos in the hope his friend would find the treasure and solve the mystery.

The whole outrageous story, all by itself, is worthy of a documentary, however, Miklos went ahead, and with some fellow researchers, put together a team and went looking for the treasure.

Chalk Sound. Picture taken February  2011 in Chalk Sound  Providenciales  Turks and Caicos Islands

Chalk Sound. Picture taken February, 2011 in Chalk Sound, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Tim Sackton

Christoper Columbus arrives in America

Christoper Columbus arrives in America
Library of Congress: cph.3b49587

Miklos and his crew of explorers identified five Colonial-era shipwrecks during their search, using magnetometers. They would then dive on the spots using a metal detector when they got close to the ship remains.

The anchor is not the only artifact the research team found, though. They also found grappling hooks that date back to the Columbus-era. The hooks were used like anchors to salvage treasure from sunken ships at that time. Pottery shards and an olive jar painted in the indigo paint were also recovered. The indigo paint indicates the jar is of Spanish origin.

Another exciting discovery was a pot from the Spanish island of Majorca, which also dates the wreck to the period between 1492 and the early 1500s. Also found were a bunch of iron and brass spikes, possible from the remnants of the sunken ships, and a broken section of a ship’s anchor ring.

Winslow Homer s Northeaster is a good depiction of the strength of the hurricane that sank the Pinta...

Winslow Homer’s Northeaster is a good depiction of the strength of the hurricane that sank the Pinta in 1500.
Winslow Homer

Could the anchor be linked to Columbus?
According to Miklos, the anchor is believed to be linked to Vicente Yanez Pinzon — a Spanish explorer, who commanded the Nina during Columbus’ first voyage to the New World. Vicente’s brother, Martín Alonso Pinzón, commanded the Pinta. The story of the two brothers is an interesting one, all by itself, with brother Martin, dying of syphilis and with his reputation in shambles.
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Vicente went on to discover Brazil and the mouth of the Amazon River. By July of 1500, after acquiring a great quantity of gold, emeralds, and pearls through trading deals, Vicente decided to return to Spain. With four heavily laden ships, he set out, turning to the north. In late July of 1500 Pinzón’s good luck finally ran out.

Replica of the Pinta commissioned by the Columbus Foundation.

Replica of the Pinta commissioned by the Columbus Foundation.

Caught in a hurricane while anchored near the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Pinta sank fully loaded with gold and jewels, along with another ship, the Frailia. With the loss of two fully-laden ships and many men, the two remaining badly beaten ships returned to port. It is said that two years later, Pinzon tried to salvage the cargo of the two sunken ships, but no record remains of those events.

So, that is the connection, folks. One ship could very well be the Pinta, a caravel, smaller and lighter than the Santa Maria, a cumbersome, full-rigged ship that weighed in at over 100 tons and measured close to 100 feet from stem to stern. Or, it could be the Frailia. Who knows?

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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