Elephant tusks provide clue to Dutch shipwreck off WA coast

ELEPHANT tusks found on a shipwreck off Western Australia's Mid West coast are a key indicator that another 300-year-old wreck could be in the same vicinity, according to the WA Museum.

The museum has begun a search for a Dutch East India Company vessel, the Aagtekerke, which was believed to have been lost off the Abrolhos Islands in 1727, after its maiden voyage from the Netherlands a year earlier.

Historical research and previous surveys indicated there was a high probability an 18th century shipwreck lay in the vicinity of the Dutch East India Company wreck, Zeewijk, which was lost off the Abrolhos Islands at Half Moon Reef in 1727.

WA Museum CEO Alec Cole said there were a lot of theories about where the Aagtekerke may lie, but this one had been compelling enough to attract funding from global shipbuilder Austal to underwrite the search.

"One is that it's also wrecked on the Abrolhos Islands and even that it might've been wrecked so close to the existing sites that the two wrecks might have become confused, so there might be two wrecks instead of one," Mr Cole said.