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Meadows Center brings live shipwreck exploration to San Marcos

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
April 8, 2014

Fritz Hanselmann

Fritz Hanselmann

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University will operate a 24-hour Exploration Command Center April 15, 16 and 24, where a team will help guide exploratory dives on four shipwrecks via remotely operated vehicle (ROV) underwater robot.

The Exploration Command Center will be hosted in The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Discovery Hall on campus at 211 San Marcos Springs Drive. Visitation is welcome, free and open to the public.

The public is invited to visit the Exploration Command Center 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and speak with mission archaeologist Fritz Hanselmann and researcher Sam Meacham while watching the Gulf of Mexico expedition unfold via a live stream. The public can also watch the mission via live stream from the Internet at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/media/exstream/exstream.html.

The three-day event is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer’s 2014 Gulf of Mexico Expedition mission, the latest round of exploration for a team that includes The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Texas Historical Commission.

The Okeanos Explorer made reconnaissance dives on the first of these shipwreck sites in 2012 and 2013. The Ocean Exploration Trust’s exploration vessel Nautilus then explored that shipwreck and discovered two others nearby. In 2013, the team again studied these three wrecks, which became known collectively as “the Monterrey shipwrecks.” The Monterrey shipwrecks are approximately150 miles southeast of Galveston.

“After studying the ships and artifacts inside, we believe these wooden ships date to the early 1800s,” said Meadows Center underwater archaeologist Fritz Hanselmann. Expedition archaeologists and scientists plan to further explore the sites on April 15 and 16, and on April 24 they will move to a fourth site, which is a potential shipwreck elsewhere in the Gulf.

“The unexplored site has only been documented with sonar and based on those images, we suspect it might be a shipwreck,” said Hanselmann, “This is an exciting opportunity to return to the Monterrey shipwreck sites and to potentially discover something completely new.”

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment was so named following a $5 million gift from The Meadows Foundation in August 2012. The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is dedicated to environmental research, stewardship, education and service. It is run by renowned conservationist Andrew Sansom.

For more information, contact Fritz Hanselmann at fritz@txstate.edu or (512) 245-2724.