Two treasure hunters are going public with their claim that they found the ruins of a legendary 335-year-old shipwreck in Lake Michigan, WZZM-TV reported.
“We were literally in the water for a couple of hours when we got a hit on the sonar,” Kevin Dykstra said of his discovery of Le Griffon, a French vessel built by explorer René-Robert Cavelier, also known as Robert de La Salle.
Dykstra said that he and his partner, Frederick Monroe, came upon the wreckage during a 2011 expedition, but waited three years to consult with experts before identifying the ship as Le Griffon.
Cavelier built the ship as part of his efforts to discover the Northwest Passage. Le Griffon, named after the mythical half-lion, half-eagle, vanished in 1679 while traveling to Niagara, New York from Wisconsin. Dykstra said he and Monroe photographed cannons found in the wreckage in Lake Michigan, as well as a carved structure of a griffin.
“If you take the picture of the carving of the griffon and overlay it on what these gentlemen have, it’s very compelling,” Wreck Diving Magazine publisher Joe Porter told WXMI-TV. “It’s the Holy Grail of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes.”
Dykstra said they stumbled upon the wreckage while searching the lake for $2 million in gold bullion dating back to the late 19th century. That project is still ongoing.
“We found the mystery ship, the Griffin,” Monroe said. “Now we’re going to find the gold.”
Watch WXMI’s report, as aired on Sunday, below.