National Geographic : 1994 Jul
Left alone, San Diego's storagejars would have formed an intricate coral reef (right). Divers pulled up 570 jars-the largest sunken sample ever discovered including a huge water jug (above). Inside the jars divers found animal bones, residue of spices, and eggshells. were fresh in the minds of the survivors. Sworn to the law of Spain, the impassioned witnesses ranged in rank from captain to sur geon to sailor to deckhand. There is no record that anyone in Spain ever read or acted on their words, which they prefaced by making the sign of the cross. Perhaps de Morga's promotion to Mexico had already been dis patched when the testimonies arrived, and they were simply filed away as an inconve nient detail in the career of a powerful man. The survivors occasionally differ in their descriptions of the battle, but not in any sub stantial way. All agree with witness Lt. Pedro Pinto de Almeyda: The loss "was all due to the bad leadership and lack of experience of Dr. de Morga, for trying to be in charge of something he knew nothing about." With the secret testimonies to flesh out van Noort's account-and correct much of de Morga's-I could now picture the course of the battle, a tragic comedy of errors.