August 19, 2011

Special Peek Inside Final Days At National Geographic’s ‘Real Pirates’ Exhibit

Imagine being able to embrace the charm of the 18th century through the eyes of a sea-ridden pirate.

I took a trip to capture the whimsical moments given by National Geographic's "Real Pirate: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship" exhibit in Denver, Colorado just days before its set to expire in the Rocky Mountain capital.

The exhibit features a discovery made by Barry Clifford in 1984 of a slave ship turned pirate ship in 1717.

From the moment you step into the world of pirate captain Sam Bellamy and his crew, you feel a cold chill run down your spine and the immediate need to check your wallet to make sure no ghost from the past succumbed to old habits.

The exhibit is filled with plenty of pirate canons, shackles, guns and booty to spend hours admiring the hard work Clifford made in uncovering a piece of Caribbean history.

The Whydah was originally built to be a slave ship in 1715, transporting slaves from Africa to the Caribbean.  Then, Sam Bellamy decided to commandeer the vessel, turning it into one of the most successful pirate ships of all time.

One of the more fascinating parts of the exhibit for any science geek is a unique peek into how Concretion helped Clifford unhinge the hidden treasures kept inside the ocean's grip.

Concretion is like the ocean's concrete, and artifacts were eventually drawn up inside these ocean rocks to be preserved for its discovery 300 years later.  Through CT scans and X-rays, Clifford was able to see artifacts held within these rocks.

Clifford has also been involved in other discoveries since finding the Whydah 27 years ago.  He is currently on the hunt for the remains of Christopher Columbus' ship, the "Santa Maria".

The Real Pirates exhibit has plenty of cannons and gold coins to look at, but one of the most remarkable artifacts is the ship's bell, shown front and center at the beginning of the journey.  This bell is inscribed "Whydah Gally 1716" and was used by Clifford and his team to authenticate the shipwreck site.

After slave trading, piracy and a nasty storm, the Whydah surveyed 300 years later to enter the hearts of thousands of visitors.  Sadly, only a few days remain for this exhibit, and redOrbit has yet to confirm where its artifacts will find their resting place. Â

The exhibit may see its fate end August 21 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (www.dmn.org), but the artifacts could live on at Expedition Whydah Sea-Lab and Learning Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.


Image 1 Caption: Pirate treasure on display (Credit: Lee Rannals)

Image 2 Caption: Cannon recovered from sunken pirate ship (Credit: Lee Rannals)


On the Net: