200-year-old ship discovered 175 miles off Galveston coast

Crew searching wreckage

GALVESTON, Texas - Scientists and biologists are getting a close up look at a 200-year-old sunken ship discovered off the coast of Galveston.

The vessel was originally located by Shell Oil during a survey, but now it is in the hands of scientists who are collecting artifacts and attempting to weave a story about the ship's origin and mission.

Some of the findings include several canons, a telescope, a book and medicine bottles believed to be filled with ginger.

"A lot of people are asking us what's the ship, what's the date, what's the nationality, and the answer is we don't know yet," said Tom Oertling, an archeologist with Texas A&M Galveston.

However, the experts believe the ship could have been on a military mission in the 1800's, or served as a pirate's vessel.

Based on the information collected, it appears the crew went down with the ship, but no human remains have been discovered.

High definition video is being beamed to a team in Galveston from a ship located 175 miles off the coast of Galveston. Its crew is working with an underwater robot, and guiding it as it sifts around the wreckage and retrieves the relics.

A live streaming of the video can be found at www.nautluslive.org.

While the primary focus is to gather archeological data, biologists are also learning more about life on the ocean floor.

"We are not necessarily seeing new species that we've never seen before, we are seeing some that have never been named, said Steve Gittings with NOAA. "We're learning this ship was very lucky enough to sink in very low productivity environment where it is not overgrown now by a bunch of biological critters that somehow deteriorate the quality of the artifacts."

Because of the condition of the wreckage, there are no plans to raise the entire ship. However, artifacts that are collected will be sent to Texas A&M in College Station where they were be preserved. Eventually, items will be displayed in museums across the country.

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