Undersea explorer Barry Clifford believes he has found the “Mount Everest of shipwrecks” — Christopher Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria sank after hitting a reef off Haiti around Christmas in 1492, months after arriving from Spain.
Clifford and his dive team used marine magnetometers, side-scan sonar equipment and information in Columbus' log to help locate what they think is the wreck. It sits 10 to 15 feet below the surface.
Several factors indicate it may be the Santa Maria. The wreck is near Fort Columbus, which is described in his log, and the site matches what is known about the wreck in relation to underwater topography and ocean currents. Also, 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," according to a report in the Independent, a British newspaper.
So far, Clifford's expedition — funded by the History Channel — has made non-invasive reconnaissance dives to the wreck. The next step is to excavate.