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Explorer says Griffin shipwreck may be found


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- A debris field at the bottom of Lake Michigan may be the remains of the long-lost Griffin, a vessel commanded by a 17th-century French explorer, said a shipwreck hunter who has sought the wreckage for decades.

Steve Libert told The Associated Press that his crew found the debris this month about 120 feet from the spot where they removed a wooden slab a year ago that was protruding from the lake bottom. Libert believes that timber was the bowsprit of Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle's ship, although scientists who joined the 2013 expedition say the slab more likely was an abandoned fishing net stake.

"This is definitely the Griffin - I'm 99.9 percent sure it is," Libert said. "This is the real deal."

He described the bottomland area as littered with wooden planks that could belong to a ship's bow, along with nails and pegs that would have fastened the hull to the rest of the vessel and what appeared to be sections of a mast.

He acknowledged his dive team had found no "smoking gun" such as a cannon or other artifacts with markings identifying them as belonging to the Griffin. But the nails and other implements appeared similar to those from La Belle, another of La Salle's ships that sank near the Gulf of Mexico, Libert said.

He said his organization has sent images of the debris to three French underwater archaeologists who took part in last year's search. They plan to seek state and federal permits to excavate in the area in September, Libert said.

Dean Anderson, Michigan's state archaeologist, said Monday he hadn't been notified of the find and could not speculate about whether the Griffin had finally been located. Anderson supports the theory that the timber discovered earlier was a fishing apparatus.

The area strewn with debris is roughly the size of a football field, said Brian Abbott of Nautilus Marine Group, who joined Libert's search this month and took sonar readings of the bottomlands. It is near tiny Poverty Island in northwestern Lake Michigan and about 50 feet below the water's surface.

The Griffin is believed to be the first ship of European design to sail the upper Great Lakes. It disappeared with a crew of six on its maiden voyage in 1679 after La Salle had disembarked near the mouth of Wisconsin's Green Bay.

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coopdabomb June 24 2014 at 1:14 PM

Oh, I thought he found osama obamas birth certificate.

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rockymtnhikerCo coopdabomb June 24 2014 at 5:05 PM

coopdabomb,quit beating a dead horse,grow up already

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coopdabomb rockymtnhikerCo June 25 2014 at 5:56 AM

It's not a dead horse, it's a lame duck..

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Greetings John June 24 2014 at 11:48 AM

Actually its Spelled Griffon

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annemcl Greetings John June 24 2014 at 5:24 PM

French: Le Griffon; English: The Griffin

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rockymtnhikerCo June 24 2014 at 5:04 PM

hey man,i'm a product of the 60's man,was it a yellow submarine? dude

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MARTHA & PERRY June 24 2014 at 11:01 PM

I remember growing up in mich. going up to sleeping bear dunes outside traverse city and swimming in lake mich. the water was freezing even in July. good times.

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juanelan June 24 2014 at 6:56 PM

The Griffin was to have been by the Door Peninsula or on the Manitoulin Island. Now it's near T C? And what about the Poverty Island Civil War treasure? Good story at the beginning of summer season, good for the press.
Time for a ghost story now.

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Fed Up June 24 2014 at 6:38 PM

Why is this find so important? They already know it dropped off La Salle in Green Bay.

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Butch Cavendish June 24 2014 at 5:16 PM

AAARRR the boat wreck that be found be the Orca wreck in the water you go into the water shark in the water our shark.....

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rockymtnhikerCo June 24 2014 at 5:16 PM

Was the mystery of the Canadian ship,Mary Celeste ever solved.She was bilt I think in the 17th or 18century,don't have my reference book handy.she was built in Nova Scotia,near or at Spence's Island,her sails were fabricated in Lunednburg,NS. she was found sailing adrift,full sails in place,no crew members were found on board. I think the ship might have been carrying alcohol,and the crew thought she might explode form all the rough seas they encountered,so the crw might have slipped off board to a dinghy,tied to the ship is she did in fact explode

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searune June 24 2014 at 3:55 PM

I thought they found the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

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thosholzel June 24 2014 at 1:49 PM

Wake-up call for the lawyers.

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