Mystery shipwreck discovered and explored off Galveston    

Texas A&M University at Galveston’s research scientists and archaeologists and students have joined National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts in investigating a 200-year-old shipwreck located about 150 miles from Galveston. The site was discovered by a Shell survey crew and reported as a possible shipwreck.

NOAA obtained the Exploration Vessel Nautilus,  a deep sea exploration ship operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust under the direction of Dr. Robert Ballard, the man who is internationally known for finding the wreck of the Titanic.

At Texas A&M University at Galveston, the university’s Information Services department built an exploration command center on campus to enable NOAA and university scientists to monitor and help guide the expedition in real time. The shore-based station was in direct communications with the technicians onboard the E/V Nautilus at the site to advise and help direct the recovery of artifacts. Communications included live audio and high definition video.

A&M Galveston’s Dr. Gilbert Rowe, a marine archaeologist, and lecturer Tom Oertling lent their expertise and knowledge to the NOAA scientific team and commented on marine life identification and artifact identification.

Scientists found artifacts such as muskets, pistols, swords, cannons and even clothing. They have no idea what the ship is, its name or country, but date the artifacts to between 1800 and 1830. Scientists suggest it seems to be a warship, possibly pirate or a ship transporting arms and soldiers.

With evidence retrieved so far, participants say the ship could have supported Spain or Mexico during Mexico’s war with Spain, or Mexicans headed to Texas to support the Mexican army during the flight for Texas independence or a ship sailing to provide arms for the Texans. Besides Spanish and Mexican artifacts, cannons believed to be British were found.

The 24-hour recovery expedition ended on Wednesday, July 24.

More information is available at  To view media reports about the exploration, go to, and