The recovery process of the Whydah has required the use of high-tech equipment, such as side scan sonars, sub-bottom profilers, CT scans, x-rays, a proton precision magnetometer, and diving gear. The work is painstaking, and like any archaeological dig, the area is divided into grids. Barry Clifford and his crew investigate one square meter at a time and carefully record their findings.
They have also been careful to conserve what they recover. Metal objects such as cannons and coins, for example, are encrusted in concretions, formations that occur over time when metal disintegrates and combines with sea salts to make a concretelike mass. Concretions preserve the artifacts as long as they are kept wet. Further conservation requires a long process called electrolytic reduction to break down the salts without damaging the artifacts.
The Whydah is the first authenticated pirate shipwreck ever found. Barry Clifford and his team continue making new discoveries. Their dedication has provided us with a window into the past, a glimpse of the little known life aboard ships in the “Golden Age of Piracy.” As Clifford said, “It’s not what you find, it’s what you find out.”