An American explorer's claim to have found Christopher Columbus' flagship is just wishful thinking, says Haiti's culture minister. An initial analysis of the wreckage announced in May by Barry Clifford suggests that the ship he found off the coast is about 200 years younger than the Santa Maria, reports the AP. A full analysis is expected soon from experts at UNESCO, "but so far what we have seen ... tends to lead us to think it is a later ship," says culture minister Monique Rocourt. Clifford, though, is standing by his claim.
Nobody from UNESCO examined his photos from the dive site, he said, adding that he thinks the UN report will be "highly, highly prejudiced." He found the wreckage off northern coast near the city of Cap-Haiten, but as Haiti Libre explains, Spanish experts think Clifford was way off in his search site. In fact, changes in sediment in the centuries since Columbus sailed suggest the ship would actually be buried on land by now instead of under the sea, they say. Rocourt seems in agreement and says Haiti would likely allow a search on shore. "Even a single piece of wood that we would find, we'll put it in a museum," she says. (Of course, there's always the possibility that Columbus was lying about the Santa Maria's fate.)