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San Diego Museum Hosts Only Documented Pirate Treasure Ever Discovered

Whydah bell, Real Pirates Exhibit

Credit: National Geographic

Above: Whydah bell, Real Pirates Exhibit


Barry Clifford, Underwater Explorer

Susan Loveall, Vice President, San Diego Natural History Museum


As a young boy growing up in Massachusetts, Barry Clifford heard stories of a pirate ship that wrecked off the coast of Cape Cod in a storm in 1717. He dreamed of one day finding its treasure and what he would do with its gold.

It took until 1984 but he actually did find it. Clifford, an underwater explorer, is credited with finding the Whydah — the only documented pirate treasure ever discovered.

It consists of more than 200,000 artifacts, including more than 10,000 coins, gold jewelry and 60 cannons. Some of those artifacts are part of a new exhibit called Real Pirates on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum. We find out what it took to locate the ship, bring its treasure to the surface and what can be learned about life on a pirate ship.

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