Sinking oil threatens historic Gulf shipwrecks - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Sinking oil threatens historic Gulf shipwrecks

TIMBALIER ISLANDS, LA (AP) - Not just flora and fauna are at risk of being caked in oil. So is the Gulf of Mexico's barnacled history of pirates, sea battles and World War II shipwrecks.

The Gulf is a cornucopia of remains: Wooden shipwrecks, American-Indian shell midden mounds, World War II casualties, pirate colonies, historic hotels and old fishing villages abound. Researchers now fear this treasure seeker's dream is threatened by BP's deepwater well blowout.

Within 20 miles of the well, there are several significant shipwrecks - ironically, discovered by oil companies' underwater robots working the depths - and oil is most likely beginning to cascade on them.

Archaeologists say sites on the shore are also at risk from crews building barriers and dragging to clean oil.

Minerals Management Service's Web site for Gulf shipwrecks: http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/regulate/environ/archaeological/shipwrecks.html

Alaska Office of History & Archaeology Web site on Exxon Valdez: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/oha/oilspill.htm

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