Friday, July 01, 2005


Scientists Work To Solve Mystery Of Shipwreck Off Marathon

June 29, 2005

Divers Gather Information From Remaining Wood.

MARATHON, Fla. -- Scientists are working to discover information about what they call a "mystery wreck" a few miles off the coast of Marathon.

Several rocks and other debris, comprising what archaeologists call a "ballast pile," are all that is left of what scientists believe was a Spanish sailing ship that sank in the early 1700s.

"There is not much information on this one. They call it the 'mystery wreck,'" Roger Smith, of the state of Florida, said.

A combined state and federal operation is seeking to date the wreck and solve the mystery.

"The wrecks in the Florida Keys are fairly well degraded in the shallow water, and this is a pretty well in tact ballast pile, so it gives us an opportunity to look at the wooden structure, which is not easy to find in this area," said Bruce Terrell, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Divers are working to trace and identify the wood in order to discover the origin of the ship. They will also determine if the site will work well for a public visitation site within in the Florida Keys marine sanctuary.

The scientists also want to find out what caused the wreck, what the ship was carrying, the ship's port of origin, its name. They say there is no chance of finding gold, silver or emeralds -- just a treasure trove of information.

"We know it is colonial and it is probably Spanish because of the pottery and the fire brick that exists on the site," Smith said.

Scientists say it will be about six months before they can completely solve the mystery.


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