Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA – November 15, 2011 – ‘Pirate Island’, an exciting documentary about world-renowned underwater explorer Barry Clifford’s expedition to uncover sunken pirate ships and treasure off the coast of Madagascar, premieres this Sunday, November 20, 2011, at 9:00pm Eastern time on the H2 (formerly History International) Channel.
The fascinating two-hour film features underwater footage of Clifford’s highly-skilled team of divers and archaeologists as they research and retrieve treasure and artifacts,from 17th and 18th century sunken pirate vessels, as well as their exploration of the secrets of a mysterious tunnel system.
Ile Ste. Marie, a coral-ringed island off the coast of Madagascar, was a haven for pirates attacking incredibly rich Muslim pilgrim ships and East India Company vessels in the busy shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean. The film follows Clifford & his team as they reveal secrets and treasures both on and off Ile Ste Marie. On an earlier expedition, Clifford discovered none other than the Adventure Galley, flagship of the notorious Captain William Kidd, as well as other sunken pirate ships, including the Fiery Dragon, commanded by William (“Billy One-Hand”) Condon, one of the most successful pirates of the 18th-century. Clifford and his team now expand their archaeological surveys to locate the resting place of the Great Mahomet and the Mocha; two of the most important pirate ships of all time. Having been a hajj ship that carried Muslim pilgrims and their riches between India and Mecca prior to its capture by pirates, Great Mahomet is of special significance as the only shipwreck of its kind ever discovered.
Taken together, these shipwrecks represent what can be described as “the Valley of the Kings of pirate shipwrecks”, and “an unprecedented concentration of undisturbed underwater cultural resources related to the Golden Age of Piracy”.
Nor do Clifford and his team limit their discoveries to underwater treasures. They also explore the mysteries of this island and an underground labyrinth of secret tunnels, which may be associated with the French pirate “La Buze” ( “The Buzzard”), a shipmate of such notorious pirates as Blackbeard and Sam Bellamy, and the fate of whose famous lost treasure remains a mystery to this day.
The Clifford Team has developed evidence that Ste. Marie and its environs may have been the inspiration for—if not the location of–a pirates’ utopian settlement known as “Libertalia”, and examination of the tunnel-complex with remote-sensing equipment and other evidence reveals startling similarities with the famed “Money Pit” at Oak Island Nova Scotia.
Clifford and his Team are working closely with the Malagasy government to preserve and protect these sites and to conserve recovered artifacts for the purposes of education and display.
Barry Clifford is one of the world’s best-known undersea explorers, and made world headlines in 1984 with his discovery of the legendary pirate ship Whydah, which wrecked in a storm off Cape Cod in 1717. With more than two hundred thousand artifacts recovered, including sixty cannon, thousands of coins, hundreds of rare Akan jewelry fragments and much more, the project has completely revised the world’s understanding of pirates, and, as of 2011, artifacts continue to be recovered from this wreck site. In 2007, a selection of artifacts from the Whydah collection—as the world’s only display of pirate treasures—began a major nation-wide traveling exhibition, titled REAL PIRATES under the sponsorship of The National Geographic Society.
Clifford’s “Pirate Island” exploration team includes his wife Margot, his son Brandon, as well as highlytrained expert divers and marine archaeologists who have worked on the project team over many years.
For more information, contact the Clifford Team: