TSU researcher discovers pirate shipwreck

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by Jim Bergamo/KVUE Austin

kvue.com

Posted on August 4, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 4 at 10:36 PM

 

A long lost piece of pirate treasure may no longer be lost. Underwater researchers from Texas State University just found a 17th century shipwreck. And they think it belonged to Captain Morgan.

The wreckage was found near the mouth of the Chargres River in Panama. A dive team headed by Fritz Hanselmann of Texas State, excavated and documented what is believed to be part of the lost fleet of Captain Henry Morgan.

"Captain Morgan was a privateer," said Fritz Hyanselmann, an underwater archaeologist. He's the faculty and chief underwater archaeologist with Texas State. He says one man's privateer is another man's pirate, especially since in the 17th century, England did not have a navy to patrol the western hemisphere.

Before Morgan could raid Panama City, five of his ships, including his flagship ran aground near the Lajas Reef. In 2010, Hanselmann led an exploratory team near the site. Another search required money and that funding came from a unique source. That being from the Captain Morgan Rum Company got wind of the team's first expedition and gave them a grant to continue the research.

"There's definitely an irony in the situation," said Hanselmann. The funding allowed the team to do a magnetometer survey, which looks for metal by finding any deviation in the earth's magnetic field.

"It can detect things that are very, very small, like bullets or it can detect things that are very large, like cannons and anchors that might be part of a historic shipwreck," said Bert Ho, the project survey archaeologist.

The team uncovered a wooden ship's hull and several unopened cargo boxes and chests encrusted in coral. A story that has resurfaced, thanks to Hanselmann and his team.

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