Barry Clifford, the explorer who believes he found the wreckage of Christopher Columbus' famed Santa Maria, is urging Haitian officials to recover the ship as soon as possible. The threat: the vessel has already been looted.
Clifford said, "I think this is an emergency situation. I think the ship needs to be excavated as quick as possible and then conserved and then displayed to the world." As the world becomes more aware that the wreck in question is very likely the Santa Maria, more and more divers will aim to find it, taking a souvenir for themselves.
In order to preserve the ship as it is, it should be excavated as quickly as possible, according to Clifford, who has done this sort of work before. (He famously discovered a sunken pirate ship off the coast of Massachusetts in the 1980s.) He goes onto say that, "The ship has to be preserved. I hope to be able to work with the Haitian government and with all other countries including Spain in helping to preserve this irreplaceable resource." If it is the Santa Maria, it would be the oldest known wreck of a European ship to be found in the Americas.
Hopefully, the ship will be recovered before any more bells go missing.