An interesting photo essay of an ancient Roman ship that apparently held a fish tank to transport and hold live fish appeared on Discovery News recently. Originally discovered off the coast of Grado, Italy in 1986, the shipwreck was recovered in 1999 and was dated to the second century.
Measuring in at 55 ft. long and 19 ft. wide, the vessel was packed with 600 vases (amphoras) filled with sardines, salted mackerel and garum, a popular Roman fish sauce. But recently archaeologists found signs that this ship also housed an oxygenated fish tank on board that would allow for storage and transport of live fish.
This mobile fish market included a lead pipe located in the stern area (rear section) of the ship and fed a tank via a hole cut into the ship’s hull.
“No seaman would have drilled a hole in the keel, creating a potential way for water to enter the hull, unless there was a very powerful reason to do so,” researchers noted in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.
Archaeologists speculate this pipe would be connected to a hand operated piston pump that would deliver sea water into the fish tank located on the deck. Although the pump was not found with the wreckage researchers determined the ship could have carries a tank containing around 4 cubic meters (141 cubic feet) of water, which could have housed 440 pounds of live fish.
Needing to replenish the water once every half hour, calculations show with a flow rate of around 66 GPH, a piston pump would fill the tank in around 16 minutes.
[via Discovery News]