Anchor find has historical significance
A marine research team has accidentally discovered an anchor thought to be up to 150 years old during a field trip on Ningaloo Reef.
A StarBug autonomous underwater vehicle operated by the BHP Billiton-CSIRO Ningaloo Outlook Deep Reefs team recorded video footage of an old anchor on the ocean floor while surveying Ningaloo Reef earlier this month.
Deep Reefs team lead research scientist Russ Babcock said the WA Maritime Museum believed it to be the type of anchor used 100-150 years ago on early trading vessels, and could have belonged to a ship bringing supplies from another part of WA to a nearby pastoral station such as Yardie Creek.
He said the team had come across the anchor by accident, while watching video footage of the reef collected by the AUV.
“It wasn’t just a speedboat anchor, it was a totally old-school sailor’s anchor,” he said.
“So we thought ‘wow’ and had a bit of a closer look at it.”
Team members traced the artefact using co-ordinates collected by the AUV and dived down to take photos.
The WA Maritime Museum has since registered the anchor on its database, but has opted to leave it in place in Ningaloo for the time being.
Dr Babcock said it was unusual discovery for both the research team and the Ningaloo area.
“This is definitely the first time we’ve found something like this with the AUV, although I know that people who operate AUVs in other parts of the country are in demand by marine archaeologists,” he said. “Usually, the closest thing to an artefact we would find is a old bit of fishing line.
“The anchor’s actually quite close to one of the busiest parts of Ningaloo and no one’s found it before. So we feel pretty chuffed and it’s one of those lucky things.”
The Ningaloo Outlook Deep Reefs field trip involved surveying 4km of reef at depths of 18-50m to collect data about environmental conditions.
The old anchor found by the Ningaloo Outlook Deep Reef research team.