Oct 10, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

Shipwreck is Too Recent to be Santa Maria

Christopher Columbus may have been disappointed he didn’t return from his famous voyage with all three of his ships, but probably not as much as the guy who thought he found the wreckage of the one he left behind. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released its investigative report on remains of a ship found off the coast of Haiti and determined that it’s not the Santa Maria.

Marine archaeologist Barry Clifford announced in May 2014 that he found what he thought was the wreckage of the Santa Maria off the coast of Haiti in 15 feet of water near the city of Cap-Haitein, the general area where Columbus recorded that the ship hit a reef and sank.

wreckage 570x320
Wreckage Barry Clifford believed to be from the Santa Maria

UNESCO sent a team to examine it and, in their report released this week, had a lot of bad news for Clifford.

Although the site is located in the general area where one would expect to find the Santa Maria based on contemporary accounts of Columbus’s first voyage, it is further away from shore than one should expect. Furthermore, and even more conclusively, the fasteners found on the site indicate a technique of ship construction that dates the ship to the late 17th or 18th century rather than the 15th or 16th century.

Also, what appears to be a protective copper sheathing found in the wreckage dates the ship as late 18th century vintage. In addition, the researchers say the coastline of Haiti has changed since 1492 due to rivers dumping sand and sediment and the Santa Maria’s remains are most likely on land by now.

Clifford is sticking by his claim, saying the researchers didn’t consult with him before launching their investigation. Perhaps the Spanish team was prejudiced because Clifford is an American.

Whatever the case, the mystery of the location of the Santa Maria continues.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

Join MU Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions & much more! Subscribe Today!