An elephant tusk recovered at sea by a Kerry fishing vessel may have originated onboard a slave ship bound for England or America.
The Ivory tusk was discovered by the Dingle based Cú na Mara in the Porcupine Basin.
The trawler had been fishing for prawns about 120 miles off the Kerry coast when they discovered that the elephant tusk had become entangled in their nets.
They brought the tusk to Dr Kevin Flannery in Dingle Oceanworld who consulted with a number of other experts.
It was first thought the tusk was that of a prehistoric mammoth, however further scrutiny has now led experts to believe that it may have originated on a slave ship.
"I contacted Dr Connie Kelliher of the Parks and Wildlife Underwater Archaeology Unit, she's an expert in this, and she came and looked at it, and said to me that she thinks it’s from a slave ship that would have gone down off the Porcupine in extreme bad weather," Dr Flannery explained.
In 1701 an account exists of a slave ship which sank enroute from Guinea to England during an Atlantic storm.
Remnants of the ship have since washed up near Courtmacsherry in Co Cork.
"Slave ships at the time, travelling from the west coast of Africa to America and England, often carried ivory from the slaughter of elephants, spices such as nutmeg and unfortunately humans for sale in the slave trade."
The National Museum of Ireland will now conduct DNA testing to precisely determine the tusk’s geographical origin.