500 Year Mystery: Archaeologists Still Searching for Christopher Columbus’ Three Ships

by Courtney Blackann

Historical mysteries are intriguing. Especially cultural anomalies – which we still obsess over today. Almost to the day, 529 years ago, the explorer Christopher Columbus crashed into the Bahamas, mistaking the islands for India.

However, the three ships he and his crew traveled on – the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria – are still being hunted by historians to this day. Five hundred years is a long time to search for ships that wouldn’t necessarily last in today’s climate. With all the natural events that have occurred since that time, it seems highly unlikely the vessels could be fund.

However, archaeologists are still curious about finding any remnants of the historic ships. Two of the ships set sail back to Europe after the discovery of the New World, according to the New York Post. The third, the Santa Maria, sailed to Haiti.

However, the 15th-century ships’ locations were never recorded. It’s unknown whether the other two made it back to Europe, or shipwrecked somewhere along the way. These are questions archaeologists are still curious about.

It’s likely, experts say, that if the ships did sink, they could have been consumed by wood-eating mollusks.

Ships lost in cold, dark, deep water have a much better chance of staying intact and maintaining their “time capsule’ value,” archaeologist Donald Keith said.

Between hurricanes and other natural disasters, it will be very difficult to locate the 500-year-old vessels, he said.

Snorkler Finds 100-year-old Lost Ship

Not all shipwrecks are sought after. Many great discoveries happen by accident. As one lucky diver found out during an excursion near England’s Norfolk coast.

Chris Taylor of the United Kingdom was snorkeling in the area when he made such a discovery.

“I think I just got lucky,” he said. “It was just a lot of, you know, the weather, the clearness of the water, the sand not being there and me just happening to swim ashore at the right place. It just all came at once. I should have bought a lottery ticket!”

What the snorkeler didn’t realize is he happened upon the SS Commodore, a ship with a strange history.

The ship was headed for London in 1896. However, by some error, it ran into the shore, creating a devastating scene. Then it sank into the seabed.

Several local historians were wildly excited by the discovery and sent crews to film the wreckage.

“[The museum] looked at the shots and said ‘Yeah, that’s the SS Commodore,” Taylor said of one of the museum’s opinions.

While it appears Taylor was in the right place at the right time, the shipwreck is located in an area that was full of activity during the 19th century.

His discovery earlier this year is something that will be a checkmark on one of the coolest moments of his life.