By Eric Berger
A mysterious shipwreck deep in the Gulf of Mexico has provided a glimpse of life aboard a sea vessel two centuries ago, when the body of water was akin to the "Wild, Wild West", scientists say.
At the time, privateers ruled the Gulf, which was poorly policed as America, Britain, France and Spain all claimed interests and ports along its borders.
Archaeologists and oceanographers were therefore eager to explore the 50-foot "Mardi Gras Wreck" — an unidentified ship named after a nearby pipeline — which was found in 2002 by employees from Okeanos Gas Gathering Co. who were surveying the seafloor with remote cameras.
The team, lead by a Texas A&M scientist, did so last summer using two remotely operated vehicles to capture video of the shipwreck and bring artifacts to the surface.
A just-released report shows the scientists recovered numerous artifacts, including a cannon, cannon shot for a few different sizes of cannon, and a chest of weapons including carbines, rifles and swords.
"It's a fairly large arsenal," said Ben Ford, a nautical archaeologist at Texas A&M University.
"They were either out for mischief, or they were concerned about coming to some harm."