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VIDEO: 500 years under the sea

Eighteen years of research, excavations and archaeological analysis paid off when a British shipwreck-hunting team discovered one of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama's ships.

It was lost at sea in 1503 off the coast of present-day Oman.

"Where most archaeologists study wrecks that have already been found, with this one we actually set out to find it," says David?Mearns?of? Blue Water Recoveries.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to locate and excavate the earliest shipwreck from Europe's Golden Age of Exploration.

The wreck of da Gama’s Esmeralda was initially discovered in 1998. It was only this month, however, that the historic vessel was positively identified from Portuguese coins and stone cannonballs engraved with what appear to be the initials of Vincente Sodré, da Gama's maternal uncle and the commander of the Esmeralda, according to National Geographic, which partially funded the project.