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Christopher Columbus' lost Santa Maria may have been found

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Substantial evidence points to historic discovery

The Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn
The Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn
Wikimedia Commons / Architect of the Capitol

Christopher Columbus' flagship the Santa Maria may have been discovered off the north coast of Haiti. While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, underwater archaeological investigator Barry Clifford says that evidence "strongly suggests" his team has indeed located the wreckage of the largest ship used during Columbus' discovery of the New World.

The first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America

According to The Independent, Clifford's team found and photographed the wreck a decade ago — they were just unaware of its identity at the time. New discoveries about the location of Columbus' fort helped Clifford make use of the famed explorer's diary, which describes the shipwreck's whereabouts. Clifford's tentative claim is also based on photographs taken during his team's initial expedition and data accrued from more recent dives. His findings are consistent with what is known about the local currents and underwater topography relating to the Santa Maria's loss. In addition, the footprint of the wreck matches that of a ship sized like the Santa Maria.

During their 2003 explorations, Clifford's team found a cannon that was possibly akin to those found aboard the Santa Maria. Looters have since made off with the cannon and other key artifacts. However, Clifford remains optimistic. "I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America." he tells The Independent. Should future excavations go well, there are plans to migrate the remains of the Santa Maria to a museum in Haiti where it will be placed on permanent public exhibition.