The ball is now in the experts’ court, but if the wreck discovered by U.S. diver Barry Clifford off the northern coast of Haiti is indeed the wreck of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus’ caravel, it would be one of the most important finds in history. The remains of the boat were spotted by Clifford (famous underwater explorer) embedded in a coral reef, about 3-5 meters deep.
THE HISTORICAL AND PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
Clifford told the British newspaper The Independent that “all geography, marine topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggest that the wreck found matches that of Columbus’ famous caravel.” The ship commanded by the Genoese admiral, a three-masted carrack of 21 meters and 150 tons, set sail on August 3, 1492, from Spain and touched the coast of San Salvador (now Waitling) in the Bahamas on October 12 of that year. On the night of December 25, while exploring the Gulf of Mexico, the boat ran aground on a shoal and sank. Columbus and the crew of 39 were forced to abandon the Santa Maria and, with parts of the boat made a survival fort. Clifford would find the wreck at the exact spot where Columbus claimed to have sunk in his journals. According to the diver, the definitive proof that it would indeed be the Santa Maria would be the 15th century cannon found on one side of the ship.
Using marine magnetometers, radar and sonar devices, and diver exploration, Clifford studied sea shelf anomalies, compared the results with Information from Columbus’ navigation diaries and cartographic material of the time and measured the impact of currents to determine the movements of the wreck after the shipwreck. In this way, the American explorer was able to gradually reduce the area in which the Santa Maria could be found to a much smaller perimeter, within which he identified the wreck of Columbus’ flagship.