SOURCE: Global Marine Exploration Inc.

October 01, 2015 07:21 ET

Global Marine Exploration Archeologists Discover Four 16th Century Shipwreck Sites Off Cape Canaveral

Evidence Shows They Could Be Some of the Oldest Shipwrecks Found in Florida Waters

TAMPA, FL--(Marketwired - October 01, 2015) - "During the Dig and Identify phase of our operations this season we have positively identified four different potential sites, all of which date to the 16thand 17th centuries and appear to be either scatter or the remains of colonial era shipwrecks" said GME CEO Robert ( Bobby ) Pritchett. Working under permits issued by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, the Army Corp of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, GME completed magnetometer surveys and minimally intrusive excavations to reveal that each of the sites contain cannon (of several different types), cannonballs, and ballast stones, each site also has 2 more large iron anchors. All the iron objects are heavily encrusted and buried under large amounts of sand and mud. Further investigations into these sites is currently being planned.

Several of the objects have fishing nets entangled on them as well as barnacles which lead us to believe that the area is very dynamic and during storms the sand moves, leaving the objects completely exposed. This is one of the reasons we believe these objects need to be rescued, conserved, and put on public display in local museums where they can be seen, studied and displayed.

"We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the State Of Florida, they have been open to working with us, and have been receptive of our methods and ideas. Working with James Sinclair, MA, Global Marine's archaeologist - Florida Bureau of Archaeology representatives and Global will develop a plan for the investigation and possible recovery of some of these exciting finds. This clearly demonstrates that state archaeologists can work with professional privately funded companies to rescue artifacts and objects before they are completely destroyed by the perils of the sea" said Pritchett.

"We are very excited by these finds and believe further study will help us identify the origin of these historical and significant objects. GME has done extensive research on several shipwrecks which we believe were lost in the area in the 16th and 17th century. One possibility is that two of the sites could be related to the lost 1565 French Fleet of Jean Ribault which some sources believed to have been lost further north. Several unsuccessful expeditions both by private companies and tax-payer funded organizations have been mounted in the past, but nothing has been found. The importance of finding part of this fleet would be significant" said- Jim Sinclair.

"We have always believed that finding one or more of these important historic wrecks on the sand bars of Cape Canaveral was a possibility based on research we have done and the discovery of a salvage camp in the area by Doug Armstrong in the 70's. Our success in past projects in the Dominican Republic and our Cape Canaveral project clearly demonstrates that our methods are sound. We have successfully discovered, mapped and worked dozens of shipwrecks in the Dominican Republic and have identified and documented more than 600 objects at the Cape during the last two seasons. One such discovery could be one of the first rockets deployed from NASA/USAF in 1949. GME has pioneered new methods which have greatly streamlined the process of magnetic anomaly identification and recording" said Pritchett.

"The find is exciting, but not unexpected," says GME COO William Seliger "We have done our research and we know that a large number of colonial vessels were lost along the Florida coast during violent storms, especially on the dangerous sand shoals at the Cape; considering the amount of area we have explored, it was only a matter of time".

Seliger also said "Not much work has been done in the area because it was off-limits to boats for years while the space program was active and because of the difficulties of working in zero visibility water". To safeguard these archeological sites from molestation or looting, the specific locations of discovered shipwrecks and/or artifacts will not be disclosed via media or other means. According to GME's legal counsel, Barry Chapman, "under Florida law, GME will be entitled to 80% of all artifacts recovered in state waters from non-military ships. If a ship is identified as a military vessel then negotiations with that specific country will be undertaken".

*Sketches may not be 100 percent accurate as all artifacts were heavily encrusted and none of the encrustation was removed by GME archeologists.

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