archeological museum altos de chavon

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archeological museum altos de chavonOn March 8th 2012, the mystery of one of the world’s most famous pirates – Captain Kidd, was unraveled by Dr Charles Beeker in a riveting speech, hosted by Muffi and Jimmy James, Casa de Campo and the Altos de Chavón Regional Museum of Archaeology.  With more than 50 curious members of the Casa de Campo community gathered at the museum for this unusual event, all eager to hear tales of pirates and buried treasure, there was certainly great anticipation and excitement over what Dr Charles Beeker would reveal….. shipwreck Quedagh MerchantSince Captain Kidd’s ship, the “Quedagh Merchant” (also called the Cara Merchant) was discovered just a few years ago off the coast of Catalina Island (very close to Casa de Campo) in less than 10 feet of water, Dr. Charles Beeker, the director of Academic Diving and Underwater Science at the Indian University Bloomington has led the investigation of the wreckage; firstly studying it to prove that it is in fact the “Quedagh Merchant” and secondly working with the government of the Dominican Republic and the La Romana – Bayahibe tourism cluster to develop the sight as a tourist attraction. In his speech, Dr Beeker (as well as unfurling the Captain Kidd legend – see below) presented his findings and research, which go towards proving that the shipwreck located off of Catalina Island is in fact the “Quedagh Merchant”, whilst also familiarizing his audience with the shipwreck itself, which consists of several stacks of canons, now encrusted with coral, as well as small remnants of the ship’s wooden structure.

The “Quedagh Merchant” shipwreck at Catalina Island shipwreck Quedagh Merchant

Today, Dr Beeker explained, Captain Kidd’s shipwreck the “Quedagh Merchant” is a “Living Museum of the Sea”, a sight tourists are welcome to visit, but that they are also working to protect and develop so that this important archeological discovery may become a more principal tourist attraction in the La Romana area. [See below to find out more about the “Living Museum of the Sea”]

And what of Captain William Kidd? The most notorious pirate in the history of the world…….. According to Dr Charles Beeker, the story goes a little something like this; William Kidd had ambitions to be a Captain in the British Royal Navy, so he sailed to Great Britain to meet with the King (as you do), where he was enlisted as a privateer, authorized by the King to attack and capture foreign ships. No doubt thrilled to take on this important mission, Captain Kidd set sail and captured the Indian-built Quedagh Merchant in the Indian Ocean – believing it to be a “pirate” ship. Unfortunately it turned out that the Quedagh Merchant was secretly backed by a British company…….a mistake he paid for with his life when he was hung for piracy in Britain in 1701. But what happened to the Quedagh Merchant? In his hurry to return to Britain and prove his innocence, Captain Kidd left the Quedagh Merchant with friends in the Dominican Republic, who, afraid they would get in trouble decided to burn the ship and leave her to sink, and despite numerous “search and rescue” missions her wreck was never found – until…………….. Buried treasure is found! The Quedagh Merchant was discovered by a Casa de Campo resident on a snorkeling trip in 2007! Although lacking “pieces of eight” and chests of gold, silver and jewels, the wreckage of the Quedagh Merchant, being of significant historical and archeological value is of course considered as the treasure herself.
The following photos were taken during the cocktail reception following Dr Beeker’s speech at the Altos de Chavón Regional Museum of Archaeology:

The Captain Kidd “Living Museum of the Sea”

captain kidd living museum of the sea

The “Living Museum of the Sea” is being developed by Dr Charles Beeker and his team from the Indian University, along with the help and support of the Children’s Museum of Indianpolis, the Altos de Chavón Regional Museum of Archaeology and numerous enthusiastic members of the Casa de Campo community, who have some very impressive plans for the future. In the pipeline are plans to make the coastline next to the wreck an actual destination for tourists, with a beach, facilities and trails inland. Also being considered are plans to create a replica shipwreck, to be constructed on the Western side of the island, for 2 reasons; firstly to protect the original site and secondly because the Eastern side of the island where the wreck is located is prone to rough seas – and so not ideal for snorkeling.

As it is today, Captain Kidd’s shipwreck can be visited by tourists – simply be taking a boat to the spot (marked x on the map below) and enjoying the view. The area can be located with the help of marker buoys.

“X” marks the spot! captain kidd shipwreck catalina island