Captain William Kidd

Capt. Kidd shipwreck: 'Living Museum of the Sea'

Historic Marker buoy and snorkel divers above the 1699 Captain Kidd shipwreck
Courtesy of Indiana University 


From Indiana University news room


Nearly three years after the discovery of the shipwreck Quedagh Merchant, abandoned by the scandalous 17th century pirate Captain William Kidd, the underwater site will be dedicated as a "Living Museum of the Sea" by Indiana University, IU researcher and archeologist Charles Beeker, and the government of the Dominican Republic.

The dedication as an official underwater museum will take place off the shore of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic on May 23, the 310th anniversary of Kidd's hanging in London for his 'crimes of piracy.'

The dedication will note both underwater and above-ground interpretive plaques. The underwater plaques will help guide divers around the Kidd site as well as relics and rare corals at two other shipwreck sites.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded IU $200,000 to turn the Captain Kidd shipwreck site and two nearby existing underwater preserves into no-take, no-anchor "Living Museums of the Sea," where cultural discoveries will protect precious corals and other threatened biodiversity in the surrounding reef systems, under the supervision and support of the Dominican Republic's Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS). USAID has since extended its support by a year, increasing the funding award to $300,000.

The Underwater Science team from the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), led by Beeker, has been working to preserve, analyze and document the Kidd shipwreck since its surprising discovery, which made headlines around the world.

This unique museum, resting in less than 10 feet of water just 70 feet from shore, will give divers the opportunity to see the 17th century ship remains, including several anchors, along with dozens of cannons, which rest on the ocean's floor and serve as home to coral and sea creatures.

Above water, several more traditional museums will benefit from artifacts that are on loan to IU by the Dominican Republic government for the purpose of study and research.

"As this ongoing multidisciplinary research continues," Beeker said, "interest in the project has grown and new partnerships are developing, including the Peace Corps assigning their volunteers to the project, and the Consorcio Dominicano de Competitividad Turistica promoting the project as a sustainable tourism destination."


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