Archaeologist Barry Clifford believes he has discovered the remains of Christopher Columbus's ship, the Santa Maria, which was lost at sea more than 500 years ago, off the coast of Haiti.
Clifford first visited the site of the wreck in 2003, but didn't suspect its identity at the time. It took years and a number of unrelated investigations to allow Clifford to say with confidence that he believes he's found the long-gone vessel. The Independent reports:
Tentatively identifying the wreck as the Santa Maria has been made possible by quite separate discoveries made by other archaeologists in 2003 suggesting the probable location of Columbus’ fort relatively nearby. Armed with this new information about the location of the fort, Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.
Clifford and his team are currently re-examining photographs from 2003 in order to glean more information about the wreck, and are working with the government of Haiti to re-examine the site. The Independent adds that there is a lot of evidence, in addition to Columbus's diaries, to support his theory, including:
The site is also an exact match in terms of historical knowledge about the underwater topography associated with the loss of the Santa Maria. The local currents are also consistent with what is known historically about the way the vessel drifted immediately prior to its demise. The footprint of the wreck, represented by the pile of ship’s ballast, is also exactly what one would expect from a vessel the size of the Santa Maria.
Plus, Clifford seems fully equipped to be the discoverer of the shipwreck. He was the first to find and excavate a pirate ship in 1984 and also found Captain Kidd flagship off the coast of Madagascar. His current expedition is backed by the History Channel, which is retaining the rights to cover the discovery, and encouraged by Haiti, which would host any finds in a local museum. So they, especially, are wishing Clifford a bon deep-sea voyage.