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Mysterious 19th-century Shipwreck Discovered by Accident in the Gulf of Mexico (Video)

A mysterious 19th-century shipwreck has been discovered by researchers testing underwater drone equipment in the Gulf of Mexico.

A team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aboard the exploration vessel Okeanos Explorer was testing the equipment on May 16 when the wreck was spotted.

Sonar on the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) “Deep Discoverer” picked up what appeared to be the shape of a shipwreck, prompting the NOAA researchers to take a closer look.

“The shipwreck finding required a swift change in operations, illustrating the power of telepresence technology,” explained NOAA, in a statement. “After a flurry of phone calls and emails to marine archaeologists around the country, experts tuned in to live video from the seafloor, lending their expertise as they virtually joined the dive.”

The numbers “2109” are visible on the trailing edge of the shipwreck's rudder. (Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.)

The drone’s dive was extended three hours longer than originally planned to give experts watching the live stream more time to analyze the amazing discovery.

“Those who joined the live stream suspect that the wreck is that of a sailing vessel built sometime in the mid-19th century, perhaps a schooner or brig, measuring roughly 37.8 meters (124 feet) long,” NOAA wrote. “The vessel is wooden with copper sheathing covering the bottom of its hull.”