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Search for Blackbeard’s Anchor Is Underway at QAR Shipwreck Site

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Category: Archaeological
Created on Friday, 20 May 2011 12:04

(Press Release) May 19, 2011 – Just as moviegoers across America are excited about the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, true pirate lovers are excited about America’s most notorious pirate, the infamous Blackbeard.  His Queen Anne’s Revenge flagship wrecked off North Carolina’s coast in June 1718 and is about 20 feet underwater.

North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle announced May 18 that a recovery effort to retrieve a 3,000-pound anchor will begin today in the Atlantic Ocean waters near the Beaufort, N.C., site of the shipwreck. (www.ncculture.com).

“Blackbeard and piracy are important threads in eastern North Carolina’s maritime heritage fabric,” Secretary Carlisle said at a news conference in Wilmington, N.C.  “As a result of historic intrigue and pop-culture fascination, North Carolina realizes significant economic impact through visitation to historic and archaeological sites and attractions, the sale of pirate-related merchandise, and festival attendance.

“The historic and economic value of this project is enormous, and we are grateful for this partnership with UNC Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College,” she concluded.  

QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Ph.D, discussed how real pirate booty is recovered, while showing artifacts from past expeditions and previewing expectations for recovery of the anchor.

“We can recover objects that have been on the sea floor for nearly 300 years. With patience, skill and determination we can extract from a crust of sand, shells and marine life the tools, implements and true story of 18th century pirates.  That is the archaeologist’s dream come true,” he explained.

“Just think about how much we have learned about our state’s maritime history based on the artifacts already recovered. Imagine how much more we can learn about North Carolina’s colonial days as the expedition continues,” UNC Wilmington Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo said at the news conference.  The University’s  Research Vessel Cape Fear, will be the primary research vessel on this expedition to the Queen Anne’s Revenge, providing support for diving, dredging, excavation, logistics, and small artifact recovery.  It will be staffed by UNC Wilmington employees Capt. Jay Styron and Research Operations Manager Ken Johns who will serve as dive safety officer.

UNCW underwater cameras will also be used to document the excavations and provide select video to Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions, who is responsible for video imagery for media and Internet.  

Marine technicians from Cape Fear Community College’s Marine Technology Program will assist QAR researchers in lifting a large artifact from the ocean floor aboard the R/V Dan Moore, the college’s 85-foot ocean-going research vessel.  “With 150 students enrolled, CFCC’s Marine Technology program is a unique two-year program that prepares students for careers in a variety of maritime industries,” said Cape Fear Community College President Eric McKeithan.

The largest exhibit of QAR artifacts ever assembled will be shown starting June 11 in Beaufort at the N.C. Maritime Museum (http://www.ncmaritimemuseums.com) in a new exhibition “Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge 1718.”

The shipwreck was located in 1996  by Intersal, Inc. of Florida by Operations Director Mike Daniel through research provided by Intersal president Phil Masters.

Also attending were N.C. Maritime Museums Director Joe Schwarzer, and archaeologists Chris Southerly and Nathan Henry, and other staff of the N.C. Underwater Archaeology Branch.

Information on the Cape Fear Community College Marine Technology Program that prepares students for maritime careers is available at http://cfcc.edu/martech/ .

UNC Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science is nationally recognized for research that contributes to understanding environmental processes and problems. Through research, education and outreach the Center strives to increase knowledge and cultivate public awareness about the marine sciences.  More than 100 active research programs run by 140 scientists, staff and students are underway are housed in the 100,000-square foot CMS facility on the Intracoastal Waterway.  Visit www.uncw.edu/cms for additional information.  

The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project, Underwater Archaeology Branch, and N.C. Maritime Museums are within the Office of Archives and History in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.


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The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources is the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. www.ncculture.com