Distinctive Cannons Confirmed Find of 'Holy Grail of Shipwrecks'

US team helped detect sunken Spanish galleon
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2018 7:24 AM CDT
Updated May 27, 2018 10:30 AM CDT
New Details on 'Holy Grail of Shipwrecks' Revealed
This November 2015 photo released Monday, May 21, 2018, by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution shows ceramic jars and other items from the 300-year-old shipwreck of the Spanish galleon San Jose on the floor of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia.   (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution via AP)

With treasure worth up to $17 billion still at the bottom of the sea, experts aren't ready to disclose the exact location of a Spanish galleon sunk during a battle in 1708—but they did have other details on the "holy grail of shipwrecks" to reveal this week. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has disclosed for the first time that its REMUS 6000 autonomous underwater vehicle found the wreck of the San Jose in more than 2,000 feet of water in late 2015, the AP reports. "We've been holding this under wraps out of respect for the Colombian government," says WHOI official Rob Munier.

The institution says it was initially unclear whether the wreck detected at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea was the San Jose or another vessel, Live Science reports. The REMUS 6000 descended to within 30 feet of the largely sediment-covered wreck, allowing researchers to spot identifying details including the distinctive dolphins carved on the galleon's cannons. The 62-gun galleon, laden with gold, silver, and emeralds, was sunk with 600 people on board by British ships during the War of Spanish Succession. Colombia says it plans to display the cannons and other items from the wreck in a museum. The treasure has yet to be recovered, and United Nations cultural agency UNESCO has urged Colombia not to commercially exploit the wreck. (The search for MH370 may have solved some maritime mysteries.)

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