Has the Cotopaxi Been Found?

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Manage episode 255591956 series 89785
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On November 29, 1925, the tramp steamer SS Cotopaxi left port at Charleston, South Carolina, under the command of Captain William Meyer loaded with her usual cargo of coal, and headed for Havana, Cuba. The voyage was routine until the ship ran into a fierce tropical storm off the eastern coast of Florida near Jacksonville. On December 1, the Cotopaxi sent out a distress call saying it was taking on water and listing badly. A thorough search of the area found no trace of the vessel or its thirty-two crew members, and the Cotopaxi would become another entry in the long record of seafaring mysteries, with many believing it had also become a victim of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Although a notable tragedy in its day, the story of the Cotopaxi would fade from the public's memory, that is until it made a surprising cameo in Steven Spielberg's 1977 motion picture, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. What would later become even more surprising was the discovery of a shipwreck matching the Cotopaxi's description sometime in the decade following the film. However, due to the sunken ship's concealment in ocean sands, no one would realize the similarity at the time. Laying in about 100 feet of water and 35 nautical miles east of the coast of the historic city of St. Augustine, Florida, the site became popularly known as the "Bear Wreck," an assumption of its association with another lost ship. It would take a nagging hunch and nearly 15 years of diving on the wreck for marine biologist and underwater explorer Michael Barnette to finally have enough of the puzzle pieces to make a solid connection to the Cotopaxi. While the wreck's dimensions, various recovered parts, and a position correlated with newly discovered insurance records make this site a strong candidate for the Cotopaxi, there is still a missing clue that could positively identify the doomed steamer. Please join us for a more casual conversation about the recent news that may be a rare occasion where the headline is earned, "Mystery Solved!"
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