Biscayne National Park - Homestead, FL

Underwater Archeology

Project:

In December of 1827 the pirate ship “Guerrero,” carrying a hijacked cargo of 561 kidnapped African peoples destined for the illegal slave market in Cuba, was driven ashore somewhere near what is now the southern border of Biscayne while being pursued by the British warship “HMS Nimble,” who also temporarily stranded on the Florida Reef. 

The LHIP intern will serve as a member of the archeological dive and field team to conduct an archeological field survey searching for the shipwrecked remains of the Pirate Slave Trader Guerrero. The intern's primary duties will be as field staff and as a dive buddy to the Park archeologist and/or archeological technician. The intern will participate in the geophysical survey in search of the shipwreck, the underwater evaluation and documentation of archeological remains found during the survey, possible underwater test excavations, and will work in the park's conservation lab, conducting supervised treatments on any artifacts recovered during archeological investigations. Most work will be conducted in the field, offshore on boats, in a marine environment. 25% of the internship (depending on weather) will be spent in an office or lab setting.  Some of their main objectives will include: 

  • Identify Guerrero’s remains, and with it the final resting place 41 unnamed Africans who drowned or were crushed by the collapsing masts of the ship when she struck the reef. 

 

Qualifications:

  • MUST have, or be working toward, a graduate or undergraduate degree in Anthropology, Archaeology, History or a related discipline.
  • MUST have a minimum of an Open Water SCUBA Certification from an accredited SCUBA instruction organization (NAUI, PADI, SSI, etc.).

About Biscayne National Park:

Biscayne National Park is the largest marine park in the NPS system. The park manages over 195,000 acres of property, 97% of which is submerged. The park is located at the northern end of the Florida Reef Track, just west of the Gulf Stream (a superhighway for colonial and early American shipping and naval traffic). The unique topography of the park (shallow reefs adjacent to the well-traveled Gulf Stream) lead to the creation of a "ship trap" where hundreds of historic vessels met their fate in dramatic fashion, wrecked upon the unmarked reefs of the Florida Keys. For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/bisc/learn/index.htm

About the Pirate Slave Trader Guerrero:

The activities surrounding the loss of the Guerrero include the nightmares of the transatlantic slave trade, as well as slave trading pirates who not only transported and sold fellow human beings in deplorable conditions, but raided other slavers on the open seas to obtain their “cargo”. It involves a hot pursuit across the Florida Straits by a British Man-of-War, with exchanges of cannon fire, eventually ending with the wreck of both vessels, probably in what is now the southeastern corner of BISC. The story continues with the subsequent efforts of several vessels full of American wreckers (men who made their living salvaging the cargos and ships stranded on the treacherous reefs of the Keys) to free the Nimble from the reef, salvage the Guerrero and rescue the surviving Africans and pirates from the sunken ship, only to then to have two of the three rescue vessels hijacked by the pirates who sailed the wrecker ships to Cuba to sell the Africans into slavery. The story continued as the tiny new settlement at Key West armed itself (with cannon salvaged from the Guerrero) against a feared attack from the escaped pirates hoping to claim the few Africans who had made it to “safety” within the city on the third wrecker. Ultimately, of the 561 Africans who had been forced aboard Guerrero for sale in Cuba, fewer than 100 eventually returned to Africa (via another perilous and deadly journey aboard an ill-fitted vessel), sent to Liberia by the US government after working in quasi- slavery around Jacksonville Florida for over two years.