Inside The ‘Shipwreck Paradise’ Where Hundreds Of Vessels Are Perfectly Preserved
Archaeologists have discovered an extraordinarily well-preserved shipwreck from the age of Christopher Columbus in an area of the Baltic Sea known as ‘the world’s largest underwater museum’.
Found right at the bottom of the Baltic, the 16-metre long Baltic Mary Celeste was discovered between Sweden and Estonia, approximately 100 miles south-east of Stockholm.
Amazingly, around 99% of the ship remains intact. The masts still stand tall and the two swivel guns were found to be in ‘ready to fire’ positions, suggesting the mysterious ship was sunk at some point during a previously-unknown naval battle.
Many of the other features have survived the centuries, including a small tender boat – used to ferry crew to and from the ship – on deck, and the wooden capstan. The bilge pump and some parts of the rigging can also be seen, as can the bowsprit and decorated transom stern.
However, the aft-castle was found to have been destroyed, further supporting the theory that the ship had sunk in the midst of battle.
This is said to be the best-preserved vessel ever recovered from Europe’s Age of Discovery, and is said to be of a northern European design rather than southern European design.
As per The Independent, marine archaeologist Dr Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz said:
This ship dates from Europe’s Age of Discovery, yet it demonstrates a remarkable level of preservation after five hundred years at the bottom of the sea. It’s almost like it sank yesterday. It’s a truly astonishing sight.
This is by no means the only ship to have been discovered in the Baltic Sea, an area described as being an ‘archaeological paradise’ by researcher Vello Mass during a 2004 interview with CBS News.
There are hundreds of Viking ships out there, hundreds of old trading ships, hundreds of warships.
The northern Baltic Sea is widely regarded to be ‘the world’s largest underwater museum’, as per Marine Finland, containing thousands of wrecks from various periods in history.
The earliest marine wreck discoveries are wooden ship wrecks from Medieval times, while more contemporary wrecks include metal-hulled vessels dating back to the two World Wars of the 20th century.
One such significant find from the Baltic Sea came in 1961, when the Vasa, a Swedish warship, was discovered close to Stockholm harbour. The ship, which made its maiden voyage in 1628, was also found to be well-preserved and has since become a popular tourist attraction in Sweden.
Another interesting find is the ‘Champagne galeas’ wreck, a two-masted sailing ship that rests on the seabed south of Föglö Island at a depth of around 20 to 48 metres. This wreck is thought to date back to the early 19th century, although the cause of the sinking remains unclear.
As of July 19, 2010, diving restrictions were imposed at the site so as to reduce the risk of robbery and to preserve information. A total of 162 champagne bottles and five beer bottles of beer have previously been lifted from the vessel.
In 2009, a 500-year-old shipwreck was discovered that was so well preserved, researchers claimed ‘it was like it sank yesterday’, with the ‘masts in place and hull intact’.
There are very few places on Earth where wooden shipwrecks can survive for hundreds of years without being eroded away by chemical, biochemical and biological decaying processes.
As per nonprofit organization Badewanne, which specialises in shipwreck documentation, even if sunk in temperate waters, wooden wrecks would usually vanish in a matter of decades unless they ended up being buried beneath sediment.
The Baltic Sea provides ideal conditions for shipwreck preservation because of low salinity, absolute darkness and low temperatures throughout the year, meaning decaying processes are much slower. Furthermore, wood-boring organisms like shipworms are unable to survive under such conditions.
This latest ship is reported to be especially well preserved because of the low levels of oxygen near the seabed in that particular area of the Baltic sea. This significantly reduces the amount of micro and other organisms which would have otherwise destroyed the timber of the vessel.
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CreditsCBS News and 3 others