Biscayne National Park - Homestead, FL

Underwater Archeology


In December of 1827 the pirate ship “Guerrero,” carrying African captives 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.

Biscayne National Park’s Cultural Resources program will be continuing the investigation of potential sites identified during last year's survey searching for the shipwrecked remains of the Pirate Slave Trader Guerrero. The goal of this project is ultimately the identification of the Guerrero’s remains, and with it, the final resting place 41 unnamed African captives who drowned or were crushed by the collapsing masts of the ship when she struck the reef. The selected intern will serve as a member of the archeological dive team and as a dive buddy to the Park archeologist and/or archeological technician. In this role, 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.

Additionally, a series of both professional and avocational maritime archaeology training programs will be hosted within the park in which the selected intern would actively participate. This opportunity will focus specifically on professional development as the selected intern assists with the learning and practice of technical skills to small groups while developing professional contacts with archaeologists from around the world, developing a well-rounded set of skillsets required for entry into this highly competitive field. 


  • 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 such as the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI), etc.
  • MUST have recent Cardiopulmonary Respiration (CPR) and O2 delivery certifications.
  • MUST have a recent medical clearance (within one year) (Dive Physical) indicating they are healthy enough to participate in SCUBA Diving activities. 
  • Applicants who have experience with small boat operation are preferred.
  • Applicants with previous experience with submerged or terrestrial archeological or conservation work are preferred.

About work environment:

  • Most of the work during the internship 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.
  • SCUBA diving and boat operation are requirements of the internship.
  • Diving in Biscayne National park is not technical but the normal risks associated with recreational SCUBA activities are present. Stinging marine life is sometimes a concern.
  • The intern will be required to pass a diving and fitness exam in order to become a member of the park's dive team.
  • The intern does not need a license or vehicle to do the work of the internship (housing is located on site). However, the park is not located on public transportation routes and is several miles from any public services. It is required that the intern have a means of personal transportation.

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) leads 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:

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 slavery around Jacksonville Florida for over two years.