Indiana University is leading an initiative to turn the Captain Kidd shipwreck site discovered off Catalina Island in the eastern DR and three other underwater preserves into no-take, no-anchor “living museums.” The living museums will protect precious corals and other threatened biology in the surrounding reef systems under the supervision and support of the DR’s National Office of Underwater Cultural Heritage (ONPCS). The four sites will be known as the La Romana-Bayahibe Regional Preserve Network. USAID has contributed US$200,000 to the museum project. “This ship is very important to Dominican maritime heritage and it merits protection,” said Francis Soto, ONPCS Technical Director.
After discovering teak wood on the suspect Captain Kidd site, IU archaeological researchers confirmed that this is the Cara Merchant, the ship Capt William Kidd commandeered and then abandoned in 1699 as he raced to New York in an ill-fated attempt to clear his name of piracy charges.
The Captain Kidd site, which will feature a stack of cannons and anchor parts, is the only pirate ship ever discovered in the Caribbean and one of only three discovered in the Americas.