Explorer Claims He’s Found Pirate Ship Treasure Off Cape Cod
The undersea explorer who, decades ago, discovered North America’s first authenticated pirate shipwreck believes he’s found where its legendary treasure lies off Cape Cod.
Barry Clifford said his expedition recently located a large metallic mass that he’s convinced represents most, if not all, of the 400,000 coins and other riches believed to be on board the Whydah.
Clifford said once the weather improves off-shore, his crew will return to the wreck and continue their work later this month.
Based on first-person testimony Clifford has studied, he believes the ship actually flipped over while sinking, and that the canons on board crashed through planking and covered the treasure.
“We removed this big massive lump of canon that weighed 15,000 pounds, and then underneath this massive canon, we found another very large concentration of metal,” said Clifford.
The Whydah sank in stormy seas in 1717 and nearly all of its roughly 150-person crew perished, including the pirate captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy.
Clifford discovered the wreck in 1984.
It’s believed the heavily laden ship sunk quickly, leaving the stolen riches from over 50 ships at the bottom of the ocean.
Victor Mastone, chief archaeologist for the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, suggests the pirates could have simply been lying.
“Did they brag more than they should have? Who knows?” he said.
But Clifford strongly dismisses those who doubt the potential treasure below the ocean just off Cape Cod.
“Why would they be bragging to the judge about how much treasure they stole? They were hanged,” he said, referring to the fate of the surviving pirates of the Whydah.
Once the mass is located and raised, Clifford said his team will need to gently break it down using electrolysis and small hand tools.
Clifford has never sold any of the Whydah’s artifacts, instead, preserving them for science and research. He opened a museum dedicated to the pirate ship in Yarmouth earlier this year.
“We have very good reason to believe that there’s something very important buried underneath the canons that we just brought up,” said Clifford.
They’ve already reclaimed some 200,000 artifacts, including thousands of silver Spanish coins, hundreds of pieces and fragments of rare African gold jewelry, dozens of cannons, various colonial-era objects and other prizes.
Jeffrey S. Overstreet