Clifford, Barry 1945-

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CLIFFORD, Barry 1945-

PERSONAL: Born May 30, 1945 in Hyannis, MA; son of Robert and Shirley Clifford; children: Barry Jr., Jenny, Brandon. Education: Western State College, B.A., 1969.

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Expedition Whydah, 16 Macmillan Wharf, Box 493, Provincetown, MA. Agent—Nat Sobel, Sobel-Weber Associates, 146 East Nineteenth St., New York, NY 10003.

CAREER: Underwater explorer, shipwreck surveyor, and founder of Expedition Whydah Sea Lab and Learning Center, Provincetown, MA. Worked variously as a lifeguard, gym teacher, and construction worker. Exhibitions: : Whydah artifacts exhibited at Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, Provincetown, MA, 1990-95, City Arts Center, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1995-96, Explorer's Hall of the National Geographic Society, 1999, Ubersee Museum Bremen, Germany, and Boston State House Museum, Boston, MA.

MEMBER: Explorer's Club.


(With Peter Turchi) The Pirate Prince: Discovering the Priceless Treasure of the Sunken "Whydah," Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Paul Perry) The Black Ship: The Quest to Recover an English Pirate Ship and Its Lost Treasure, Headline (London, England), 1999.

(With Paul Perry) Expedition Whydah: : The Story of the World's First Excavation of a Pirate Treasure Ship and the Man Who Found Her, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

The Pirate Hunters: The Discovery of a Lost Fleet That Changed History, Cliff Street Books (New York, NY), 2001.

The Lost Fleet: The Discovery of a Sunken Armada from the Golden Age of Piracy, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Return to Treasure Island, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Author of monthly column for Sport-Diver magazine. Contributor to periodicals, including Parade Magazine and Art and Antiques.

SIDELIGHTS: Barry Clifford holds the distinction of having discovered and recovered the remains of the Whydah, the first authenticated pirate ship located in U.S. waters. In 1996 Clifford established the Expedition Whydah Sea Lab and Learning Center to educate the public and display the objects he retrieved from the ship, which was located in 1984. The author has, since then, been involved in numerous other ship discoveries, and investigations of archaeological sites. Some of his other projects have resulted in the retrieval of material connected to the Boston Tea Party from Boston Harbor. His organization has been involved in the successful identification and recovery of ships and airplanes in Lake Michigan, Lake Washington and the Solomon Islands. Historically significant ships have also been discovered from New York's East River by the author and his crew.

Clifford's efforts have not been confined exclusively to the United States. His search teams have assisted in explorations in Egypt's Valley of the Kings and have aided in the discovery of tombs of the sons of the pharaoh Ramses. In conjunction with researchers from Cornell University, one of Clifford's underwater survey teams in Greece found the classical-era city of Eliki. The Las Aves reef expedition, off the coast of Venezuela, shed light on European colonial aspirations in the Americas and contributed to the understanding of the early history of piracy and pirate culture. In 2000 Clifford and his underwater archaeological survey team discovered the remains of the Adventure Galley, flagship of the infamous pirate William Kidd, together with other pirate ship wrecks off the coast of Madagascar. Although Clifford's work has not been without some controversy, the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and other regulatory agencies have praised his efforts.

The Pirate Prince: Discovering the Priceless Treasure of the Sunken "Whydah" was Clifford's first book and was co-authored with Peter Turchi. The general location of the Whydah was common knowledge in the Cape Cod community, as were stories of the sunken treasure. The captain of the Whydah, Black Sam Bellamy, was said to have been en route to visit his mistress, Maria Hallett, when his ship was destroyed in a violent storm off the coast of Massachusetts on April 26, 1717. Of the 146 crew members, only two survived. The appeal of this story never lost its hold on Clifford, and in 1982, fortified with a permit granting exclusive search rights from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he began to organize the expedition that would result in the location and verification of this legendary ship. The wreck, found beneath twenty feet of water, yielded over 100,000 artifacts. Among the recovered items were such things as coins, a cannonball, and even a leg bone with shoe intact. The drama of the situation was amplified by an endless parade of obstacles, including bad weather and the machinations of rival searchers. The attention of the media to a colorful crew, which included John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the police chief of Aspen, Colorado, did nothing to detract from the glamour of the effort. Logistical issues covered in the book include the complexities of financing, legal questions relating to salvage rights and the technological challenges of an undersea search. A reviewer in Booklist praised the effectiveness of the combination of pirate lore with the realities of contemporary treasure-hunting. The text is supplemented with sixteen black-and-white photos.

Expedition Whydah: The Story of the World's First Excavation of a Pirate Treasure Ship and the Man Who Found Her was written by Clifford with Paul Perry. In this book the authors expand on some of the material presented in The Pirate Prince, notably Clifford's search for funding and the protracted legal wrangling between the salvage team and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the ownership of the Whydah materials. The author's involvement in these expeditions goes beyond the mapping and retrieval of the ship's contents, however. The book was praised by a Kirkus reviewer for the enrichment the biographical information on Black Sam Bellamy provided to the story. Clifford has become a recognized authority on pirate history and culture and it is this material that receives most of the critical acclaim in Expedition Whydah.

In 1997-98 Clifford and his underwater team began the exploration and mapping of the 1678 wreck of a French flotilla on the Las Aves reef, off the coast of Venezuela. A reviewer of The Lost Fleet: The Discovery of a Sunken Armada from the Golden Age of Piracy in Booklist notes that Clifford gives a good account of the political circumstances of the time and their historical impact. The French were attempting to establish a strong position in the New World. The French fleet, accompanied by a group of hired privateers and pirates, pursued a group of rival Dutch vessels in the same area. Not knowing the waters well, the French were lured into a trap by the Dutch, and crashed on the Las Aves reef. This disaster, with its huge loss of life and cargo, signaled the end of the possibility of a powerful French presence in the Americas. Clifford argues that the willingness of the British and French to hire privateers, or independent seamen with ships, to haul cargo led directly to the privateers' recognition of opportunities for enrichment through the plunder of rich trading vessels. In The Lost Fleet, the author devotes a substantial amount of the book to stories of the most notorious pirates' lives and the culture that grew from this activity. Critics have praised Clifford for writing knowledgeably about international politics that influenced the situation and also about the circumstances that gave rise to the establishment of the pirates as a substantial force on the seas. This historical treatment is combined with the tales of mapping and exploration.



Booklist, August, 1993, Alice Joyce, review of The Pirate Prince: Discovering the Priceless Treasure of the Sunken "Whydah," p. 2034; May 15, 1999, Brendan Dowling, review of Expedition Whydah: The Story of the World's First Excavation of a Pirate Treasure Ship and the Man Who Found Her, p. 1663; July, 2002, Gavin Quinn, review of The Lost Fleet: The Discovery of a Sunken Armada from the Golden Age of Piracy, p. 1817.

Boston Magazine, May, 1986, Carol Farash, "A Tale of Two Explorers," p. 22; May, 1989, Seth Rolbein, "Glittering Prizes," p. 87.

Christian Science Monitor, November 5, 1998, David Mutch, "Pirate Ship Treasures Plucked from the Sea," p. 13.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1993, review of The Pirate Prince, p. 636; May 15, 1999, review of Expedition Whydah, p. 769; May 15, 2002, review of The Lost Fleet, p. 714.

Library Journal, June 1, 1993, John Kenny, review of The Pirate Prince, p. 150; August, 2002, Robert C. Jones, review of The Lost Fleet, p.115.

National Geographic World, May, 1999, Donovan Webster, "Pirates of the Whydah"; April, 2000, Michael Burgan, "Lost and Found Treasures," p. 19.

New York Times, February 27, 1983, "Massachusetts Permits Diving for Pirate Ship," p. 24; July 27, 1984, "Wreck off Cape Cod May Contain Private Treasure," p. B10; January 8, 1985, "Coins from Sea Might Solve a Pirate Mystery," p. 7; September 26, 1985, William G. Blair, "1780 Gold Ship Reported Found in East River," p. 12; November 1, 1985, Matthew L. Wald, "Bell Provides Identification of Pirate Ship for First Time," p. A1; May 7, 1986, Eric Pace, "Diver to Begin an East River Treasure Hunt," p. 17; October 26, 1986, "1717 Wreck of Galleon off Cape Yields Treasure and Hints at Pirates' Lives," p. 50; May 19, 1987, Matthew Wald, "Massachusetts' Claim to Pirate Ship Is Denied," p. A. 29; August 9, 1987, "About That Gold in the East River," p. 42; December 13, 1988, Susan Diesenhouse, "Court Awards Salvager Rights to Pirate Ship," p. A14; December 18, 1988, "Boston Harbor Is Mined for Historic Tea," p. 22; March 11, 1997, William J. Broad, "Archaeologists Revise Portrait of Buccaneers as Monsters," p. B7; July 26, 1998, William J. Broad, "Searchers Say They Have Found Elusive Hull of Pirate Ship," pp. 14, 18; February 22, 2000, William J. Broad, "Seeking Pirate Treasure: Captain Kidd's Sunken Ship," p. D1.

People Weekly, August 22, 1983, Michael Ryan, "Barry Clifford's Zany Crew—Including JFK, Jr.—Prove That Way down Deep, They're Gold Diggers," p. 26; May 22, 2000, Alec Foege, "Sunken Dream: Barry Clifford Has Found Captain Kidd's Long-Lost Pirate Ship—Maybe," p. 169.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 1993, review of The Pirate Prince, p. 34; July 1, 2002, review of The Lost Fleet, p. 70.

Time, August 11, 1986, Jamie Murphy, "Down into the Deep: Using High Tech to Explore the Lost Treasures of the Seas," p. 48.

Wall Street Journal, August 13, 1999, Stuart Ferguson, review of Expedition Whydah, p. W6.

Yankee, March, 1984, James Dodson, "Not the Best of Times for Barry Clifford," p. 76.


Adventure Inc., (November 22, 2002).

Fern Canyon Press Web site, (February 11, 2003).

Treasures of the Expedition Whydah, (February 11, 2003).

Western State College Web site, (January 2, 2003).