The undersea explorer who discovered the Whydah Gally, the first authenticated pirate shipwreck in North America, believes he's found where the ship's legendary treasure lies after more than 30 years of poking around the murky waters off Cape Cod.
Barry Clifford says 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 contained on the ship.
'We think we might be at the end of the rainbow,' Clifford said in the recently opened Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod, where many of the expedition's finds are now showcased.
Maritime archaeologists and historians say they're intrigued but remain skeptical, mostly because he's been disproved on other finds.
'Barry Clifford's many claims can be very exciting, if they can be verified with photographs or scientific proof,' said Paul Johnston, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. who specializes in shipwrecks.
'Until then, it's just talk.' The former slave ship, commanded by the English pirate Samuel 'Black Sam' Bellamy, went down in stormy seas off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1717, killing all but a handful of the nearly 150-person crew.
It's believed the heavily laden ship sunk quickly, leaving the ill-gotten riches from over 50 ships at the bottom of the ocean. But Victor Mastone, chief archaeologist for the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, which oversees shipwrecks and other undersea finds, suggests the pirates could have simply been lying.
'Did they brag more than they should have ? Who knows ?' he said. 'We know what the pirates said they had.'