United Nations researchers are throwing cold water on claims that a shipwreck found earlier this year off northern Haiti represented the remnants of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus’ flagship that sank in 1492. A report released this week by UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency, said divers explored the underwater site on Coque Vieille Reef in the bay of Cap-Haïtien last month and came away with irrefutable evidence that the ship could not have been part of Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas. “Although before the mission took place, there were some arguments to be made in favour of identifying site CV1 as the Santa Maria, there is now incontestable proof that the wreck is that of a ship of a much later period,” the UNESCO report concluded.
The report said although the site is located in the general area where one would expect to find the Santa Maria, based on contemporary accounts of Columbus’ voyage, it is farther away from shore than one should expect. Also, the fasteners found on the site “indicate a technique of ship construction that dates the ship to the late 17th or 18th century rather than the 15th or 16th century,” the report said. American underwater explorer and shipwreck hunter Barry Clifford caused a stir in May when he announced that he had found what he believed was the Santa Maria in the waters off Haiti.
— James Eng