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What happened to the Christopher Columbus ships

Created on Saturday, 14 October 2017 14:54
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 October 2017 14:09

525 years ago, Christopher Columbus first came to the continent that would later be called America aboard three ships: Santa Maria, La Niña and Pinta. In spite of being so important for the history of the humanity, there are no remains of its existence in any museum. 

For centuries, archaeologists and treasure hunters have tried to find them without success. Why? 

Poor conservation conditions 

The travel notes of the Genoese Admiral note that the most important vessel - the Santa Maria - ran aground during its first voyage on the coast of what is now Haiti and Columbus ordered to use its wood to build Fort Christmas, the first Spanish population in the New Continent. 

Three years ago, the American marine explorer Barry Clifford believed he had found his remains, but UNESCO denied this information when he concluded that they were from a later period. 

What would happen if Columbus had not come to America? "Europe would be plunged into obscurantism" 


The reason that it is really difficult to find remains of ships built five centuries ago in the Caribbean is that in this region live the teredos, mollusks with the shape of a worm that feed on wood. In addition, inclement weather such as hurricanes could have dragged those objects hundreds of miles from where they were. 

Landscape Transformations 

Since the late fifteenth century, the coast of the islands that Christopher Columbus visited has been transformed by deforestation and sedimentation, which have modified the landscape and make it difficult to search. 

Greg Cook, an archaeologist who sought remains of ships that were part of the adventurer's Fourth Fleet in Santa Ana Bay, Jamaica, explained that he needed to extract about six meters of sediment to find evidence of the historic landscape. 

This complicates the use of search techniques like lateral sonar and minimizes the effect of utensils like the magnetometer, since the ships of the time contained little metal. 

Lack of records 

Cook recalls that "no one has been able to convincingly determine" what happened to Pinta and La Niña after his return to Europe. 

It is known that the Pinta was the caravel that returned to Spain faster after the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. In February 1493 he arrived in Bayonne (Galicia) and on March 15 he arrived at the port of Palos de la Frontera (Andalusia), but there his trail is lost. 


The ship participated in the second trip of Columbus and endured the thrust of a hurricane in 1495. Years later, she was attacked by pirates and was on the island of Sardinia. After being recovered, she made a new trip to Haiti ... and that is the last record of her existence.


Courtesy: La Tribuna