Imagine you are on a boat traveling south along Florida’s east coast. A brief but violent storm hits and your boat sinks. You manage to swim to shore. Exhausted from fighting with the sea and believing you are now safe, you fall asleep on the beach.
When you wake up, you realize your ordeal has just begun.
The hot Florida sun has already burned your skin. You are covered with bites from sand fleas and mosquitoes. You stumble inland to find undeveloped scrubland as far as the eye can see, and no source of fresh water in sight.
The slave ship Guerrero was lost off the coast of south Florida on December 19, 1827, with 561 Africans aboard.
Underwater archaeologists believe that the ship has been found.
The Diving with a Purpose Underwater Archaeology Program began in conjunction with the National Park Service and the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, to have African Americans participate in the search for the slave ship Guerrero.
At 4:00 a.m. on April 1, 1864, an explosion disrupted the still waters of the St. Johns River as a Confederate mine ripped through the hull of the steamship Maple Leaf. The ship was transporting Union supplies during the Civil War.
“It was participating in the Southeast Atlantic Blockade as a troop transport,” says Keith Holland, founder of St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc.
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