By Mark Washburn
Black beard knew how to make a splash. Foremost among pirates of his time, Black beard would put sparklers in his beard to look more imposing.
He menaced shipping in the Caribbean and along the East Coast during the brief but colorful era of piracy's golden age in the early 1700s.
Wednesday's episode of the PBS series "Secrets of the Dead" examines the exhumation of what is believed to be the flagship of Black beard's fleet, the Queen Anne's Revenge.
It was discovered in 1996 in Beaufort Inlet on the North Carolina coast, a heap of ballast stones and rotting timbers smothered by sand and sea for three centuries.
Since then, researchers have been sifting the ruins and gathering clues to the ship's fate.
The absence of treasure in the pile indicates Black beard and his crew had time to strip the vessel of its valuables.
A specialty anchor found offshore shows they may have tried to wrestle the ship off the shoals, to no avail.
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