112 years after it sank, the wreckage of the SS Ventnor has been found, along with the bodies of 499 Chinese miners bound for Hong Kong from New Zealand. If it's any consolation, however, they were all already dead.
The ship was carrying nearly 500 dead Chinese miners who had died while in New Zealand, and their bodies were being repatriated to Hong Kong for burial. There was never a truly intensive search for the ship (imagine if it had been filled with gold rather than gold miners! Then maybe people would have gotten their acts together) until this century - 2010, to be precise.
In recent years, a documentary film group and research organization aptly dubbed the "Ventnor Project" has been on the case. After close to three years of searching, they hit gold (not literally) last year when they found a stock of items including the ship's bell. They've now located the exact spot where the ship sank, but they've run out of money.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the search has has cost USD234,000 so far, and many people working on the project are volunteers. "The search has been privately funded and driven by New Zealand residents who had grown up in the region knowing a ship had sunk in the vicinity and say they wanted to honor those aboard the boat," the Journal says.
The Ventnor Project estimates that it will cost more than USD300,000 to completely explore the ship - as of right now, they can't be sure that the Chinese miners' coffins are even still on board.
The group hopes to return to the wreck in the spring of 2015. We love a good shipwreck story, and we wish these curious kiwi explorers the best of luck, and eagerly await their documentary.