Amelia Earhart wreckage possibly discovered in Nikumaroro waters

Researchers from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) may have discovered pieces of Amelia Earhart's long lost plane lurking off the coast of a Pacific island. Many who follow the Earhart story and developments know that the Pacific island of Nikumaroro is one of the locations at the center of the speculation – it's around there that some think Amelia Earhart went missing after departing from Papua New Guinea in 1937.

TIGHAR has scoured the island many times in the past, including during this most recent expedition in July. Though the latest search of the island turned up nothing, it's what hides beneath the waves that has researchers interested this time around. Using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to scan and a Remote Operated Vehicle to record high-definition video, TIGHAR searched the waters off the coast of Nikumaroro. At first, it seemed that the search of the ocean didn't turn up anything, but after analyzing about 30% of the video that was brought back from the expedition, TIGHAR forensic imaging specialist Jeff Glickman told Discovery News that he had discovered an "interesting debris field" in the footage.

The image above may not look like much, but Glickman says that in the debris field there appears to be "the fender, possibly the wheel and possibly some portions of the strut." There's a chance that what was discovered by TIGHAR is the same object that was pictured in an image of the island from 1937, just three months after Amelia Earhart went missing. Taken by Eric R. Bevington, the picture of the island shows a man-made object jutting out of the ocean, which some believe could be a part of Earhart's plane.

TIGHAR will continue analyzing the data from the expedition, and then if more analysis backs up this initial hypothesis, they hope to pull the objects up from the debris field and examine them closer. This is definitely a very exciting development in the search for any sign of Amelia Earhart, and if TIGHAR has discovered what its hoping for, it may not be that much longer before the 75-year search comes to a close. Stay tuned.