Friday, December 14, 2007

UI Profs find Captain Kidd's Last Ship!

Newspapers and AP, ScienceDaily, and all other outlets would have you believe that the big news is that buccaneer Captain Kidd's ship has been found!

No. The big news is that Captain Kidd's ship was found and Robert Ballard had nothing to do with it. :->

The finders are an underwater archaeology team from Indiana University. They say that:

"The barnacled cannons and anchors found stacked beneath just 10 feet of crystalline coastal waters off Catalina Island [part of the Dominican Republic] are believed to be the wreckage of the Quedagh Merchant, a ship abandoned by the Scottish privateer in 1699."

The sunken ship is unlooted, but it wasn't holding treasure when it was sunk. The Quedagh Merchant was intentionally scuttled and burned after Kidd left it. He was on his way to New York to try (unsuccessfully) to clear his name. He was hung for piracy in 1701.

It was holding gold, silver, satin, and silk when Kidd siezed it south of the Indian coast a year earlier, however. Kidd had plenty of time to sell off some of its riches and bury the rest.

That's Dr. Charles Beeker, director of Academic Diving and Underwater Science Programs in IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, in the photo.

The plan is to explore it for the historical record, then set up an underwater preserve, accessible to snorkelers and divers. According the news story, the Dominican government has done this with other shipwrecks in its waters. Much more on the collaboration between the government and university is in the ScienceDaily story.

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