For divers and historians interested in being among the first to discover the final resting place of a lost ship, nowhere on Earth presents the rich opportunity for exploration of such relics as North America's Great Lakes. Since record-keeping first began in the 17th century, anywhere from 6,000 to an astounding 25,000 vessels have disappeared under the waters of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. As a result, the region now hosts the largest concentration of shipwrecks in the world.
Many of these wrecks remain undiscovered. In Lake Erie, which holds roughly 2,000 shipwrecks, just under 400 have been found. The mystery surrounding one of its oldest, however, may finally be answered.
On Oct. 12, the the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio, announced that it had discovered what appeared to be the wreck site of The Sea Serpent, a 47-foot schooner that disappeared in 1829. Located under some 45 feet of water, the ship's bowhead appears to feature some kind of shape, though as shown in the video below, the researchers can't exactly say yet whether it matches the snake carving that was said to grace the vessel.
Nonetheless, the team told The Plain Dealer that they're 75 percent confident that the wreck they located is The Sea Serpent. Not only do the dimensions match, but the wreck's hull also contains boulders. When the ship disappeared in September 1829, it was on a return trip with rock from a quarry on Kelley's Island. It was never seen again. The bodies of the captain and his brother, Ezra and Robert Wright, washed up on shore a few weeks later.
"We haven’t found anything that says it's something different," Tom Kowalczk, who spotted the wreck on his sonar screen in 2015, told the Associated Press.
While the team plans to make more dives next year, they admit that both the poor visibility and the vessel's deteriorated state could make a positive identification difficult.
"I don't know what else it could be, but there's still enough unknown that we haven’t seen," added Carrie Sowden, the Great Lakes museum's archaeology director.
You can view additional video from the wreck site below.