Sunken ships get closer look from Texas State scientists

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Scientists from Texas State University are part of a command center watching live underwater cameras exploring four shipwrecks sunken in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cameras focusing on the shipwreck (Ignacio Garcia/KXAN)
Cameras focusing on the shipwreck (Ignacio Garcia/KXAN)

Archeologists Amy Borgens and Fritz Hanselmann say this is one of the most exciting projects they’ve ever been a part of.

“You find something that’s as small as the sole of a shoe, or any ivory brush,” said Hanselmann, an archeologist with Texas State University. “That puts that personal context onto that sight. It allows you to think about the poor souls that went down with the ship.”

In a command center in San Marcos, team members working with the Okeanos Explorer Ship can control a remotely operated vehicle equipped with underwater cameras. Their exploration focuses on four ships found about 150 miles southwest of Galveston that went down in the early 1800s.

“We learn more about ourselves,” said Fritz. “We learn about where we came from, we learn about what made us what we are today by studying the past…that’s really important.”

And a powerful story, archeologists say, that writes itself in the sunken remains in just one of over 4,000 shipwrecks in the gulf alone.

“Shipwrecks are typically caused by an accident,” said Borgens, an archeologist with the Texas Historical Commission. “Whether it’s a storm, an accidental loss because of a naval engagement, there’s just a lot of inherent drama.”

At 4,500 feet under water, it’s the deepest archeological shipwreck expedition ever, and they’re just scratching the surface.

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