Unearthing Maritime History: The Bahamas Lost Ships Project reveals hidden treasures beneath the surface.
Hidden beneath the serene waters of The Bahamas lay the remnants of approximately 5,000 shipwrecks, entombed for centuries. These relics are finally seeing the light of day, thanks to an innovative project called The Bahamas Lost Ships Project, kickstarted in 2023 by Allen Exploration and In Search of Shipwrecks (ISOS).
176 shipwrecks traced
The project has shed light on the maritime heritage of The Bahamas, particularly along the eastern flank of the Straits of Florida, a maritime corridor frequented since the 15th century.
So far, the project has traced 176 shipwrecks dating from 1526 to 1976, 82 percent of which date back to the 19th century. Originating primarily from America, Britain, and Spain, these shipwrecks carried cargo such as lumber, sugar, molasses and precious items like gold and silver.
James Jenney, Director of Research, highlighted the discoveries’ significance, stating that “we are not just discovering the wrecks, but also reviving the stories of ships like the A. Nickerson, the whaling ship that sank with 110 barrels of whale oil.”
The project also unveiled evidence of the transatlantic slave trade in The Bahamas. "The records of sugar, molasses, cigars and timber found on 28 wrecks are linked to the illegal Spanish slave trade in Cuba," said Dr Michael Pateman, Director of The Bahamas Maritime Museum.
Dan Porter, Director of Fieldwork at AllenX, stressed the untapped potential of the region, noting that 89 percent of the total inventory still awaited discovery.
The findings will be showcased in an interactive exhibit at The Bahamas Maritime Museum. The Bahamas Lost Ships Project aims to cover all historical maritime losses in the country, pioneering a comprehensive shipwreck database in the Caribbean region.