Buried no more
The expedition to the Kenn Reefs atoll, located about 310 miles (500 kilometers) from the Queensland coast of Australia, aimed to search for the remains of shipwrecks reported by a maritime survey of the atoll that was conducted more than 30 years ago.
Although the remains of some of the wrecks they hoped to relocate have now been buried or washed away, the researchers found anchors, cannon and other items from shipwrecks at four sites around the reefs that had not been explored before. [Read full story about the newly discovered shipwrecks]
Kenn Reefs atoll
The coral and limestone atoll is situated on the peak of an extinct undersea volcano that rises sharply from the seafloor, and the reefs around it spread over more than 15 square miles (40 square kilometers).
The reefs are almost completely submerged at high tide, except for Observatory Quay, a small islet of sand inside the outer reef wall with a maximum height of 6 feet (2 meters) above sea-level.
On several occasions, the sand quay was home to the survivors from shipwrecks on the reef, sometimes for weeks or months, until they were rescued or they made their own way off the atoll in makeshift boats.
The researchers explored the atoll for more than a week, documenting several previously known wrecks and locating four "new" wrecks of 19th-century sailing ships.
In this image from Observatory Quay, inside the outer reef wall, diver Paul Mullen watches archaeologist Paul Hundley, director of the Silentworld Foundation Museum, pilot the drone over one of the wreck sites.
Storms and high tides have carried some artifacts on to the top of the reef wall, including anchors and this section from a ship's iron mast.
The researchers have worked together on several major expeditions since 2009, and have already discovered more than half a dozen historic shipwrecks.
Here, James Hunter from the ANMM watches the readout from the towed marine magnetometer that was used to locate metal items underwater, while Paul Hundley of the Silentworld Foundation pilots their dive boat, the Maggie III.
Visualizing the bottom
A ship's bell
In this image, James Hunter inspects a ship's bell at one of the new wreck sites shortly after it was discovered.
Here, archaeologist Pete Illidge measures one the cannons at site KR12, while researcher Renee Malliaros records information on an underwater slate.