The flota departed Cadiz on May 29, 1772.   El Buren Consejo and a second ship, a 40-gun merchant ship Jesus, Maria y Jose, soon lost contact with the fleet.   Nearing the Leeward Islands, the two vessels headed for St. Maarten.   But unsure of their exact location, both ships ran onto the reef east of Anguilla at night.

hull fragment at low tide

The archaeological search for evidence of the wrecks was conducted from a research vessel provided by the Anguillan Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources.   The site was inaccesible from land due to the sharp rocky formation known as ironshore, the exposed calcium carbonate reef frame.   Porous and jagged, the reef frame oxidizes to a dark grey or black color when filled with organic detritus.   The shores of most coral islands, where not covered by a sandy beach or by stands of mangrove, are formed by ironshore.

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