There's Sunken Treasure Off Massachusetts: Explorer

He thinks pirate ship could have been carrying 400K coins

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 25, 2013 11:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – Avast, me hearties, and hear the tale of an undersea explorer named Barry Clifford, who believes he's closing in on 400,000 coins languishing at the bottom of Davy Jones' locker. As the AP explains, the Whydah sank off Massachusetts in 1717, along with riches plundered from 50 other ships—the vessel happens to be the only authenticated pirate ship wreck in US waters. Clifford actually located the wreck in 1984, and has since hauled up some 200,000 items, including gold ornaments and sword handles. But Clifford is convinced there is more loot to be found, thanks in no small part to new documents discovered in April.

The Colonial-era papers suggest the Whydah still has 400,000 coins in its coffers, stolen from two other ships in the weeks before it sank. Clifford believes the coins spilled from the ship's stern and are buried nearby. A Sept.13 dive turned up "concretions"—masses that form when metals react to seawater. X-rays showed there were coins and gold inside, and a Sept. 1 dive yielded a piece of iron with 50 coins stacked on it. "Did all of those coins just happen to fall on this one little piece of iron?" he says. "Or were there thousands of coins there, and this is just an example of what's left?" He won't be able to find out anytime soon; due to weather and boat issues, his next dive will likely be in June.

A model of the pirate ship Whydah.   (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Underseas explorer Barry Clifford holds a piece of eight, right, and a metal syringe salvaged from the wreck of pirate ship Whydah.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
A tray holding lead shot, spoons, a metal syringe and the partially crushed barrel of a blunderbuss awaits processing at the Whydah pirate ship museum's warehouse.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Chris Macort, a field archeologist working with the Whydah pirate ship museum, reaches down to check one of the ships cannons at the museum's warehouse.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Undersea explorer Barry Clifford holds the barrel of a partially crushed blunderbuss he salvaged from the wreck of pirate ship Whydah.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
The ship's bell from the pirate ship Whydah.   (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
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