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Underwater explorer brings treasure hunt to Vail

Barry Clifford, an underwater explorer and pirate-ship historian, will speak about his adventures Thursday in Vail

By Melanie Wong - Vail Daily

Barry Clifford has been searching the high seas from Africa to Cape Cod, and he's hit real treasure.

The Massachusetts-based historian and underwater explorer discovered the wreckage of the Whydah, a pirate ship that sunk off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717, making him the discoverer of the only confirmed pirate treasure in existence. He'll be in Vail tonight talking about his pirate adventures as part of the Vail Symposium's Unlimited Adventure Series, a speaker series now in its eighth year.

The Whydah discovery not only gave historians a never-before-seen view inside the age of 17th century pirates, but yielded real treasure — plunder from almost 50 other ships that included West African art, treasure chests of gold and silver and weapons from the time.

The discovery will be featured in an exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science that opens March 4 called Real Pirates.

Treasure in Madagascar .

Clifford will also give the audience a preview of his latest discovery, seven pirate ships sunk off the coast of Madagascar.

The discovery will be the subject of a National Geographic documentary, and Clifford plans to return to the site in May to continue excavating the sites.