Everything We Know About The Whydah Gally Pirate Remains Found

With the events of the past year veering into the sci-fi realm of pandemics, deep fakes, and cyberattacks, couldn't we all use a little old-fashioned escapism? You know, the kind where the bad stuff happened a long time ago and the only thing left is solving a mystery or two? Fortunately, West Yarmouth's Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod must have heard our pleas, because they released some exciting news last week.

According to the Boston Globe, an investigative team from the museum announced the discovery of six skeletons from the wreck of the ship the Whydah Gally, sunk off the coast of Massachusetts in 1717. Experts have long known of the wreck of the Whydah, which had been discovered by explorer Barry Clifford in 1984, and which remains the only authenticated pirate wreckage found in the world. What wasn't discovered until recently, however, were the sets of remains, which have been encased in geologic structures called concretions. These spherical rocks encase fossilized remains, preserving them in the process, as Forbes explains.

The Mystery of the Whydah Gally

Built just two years before it was sunk, the Whydah Gally (frequently just called the Whydah) began its service as a slave ship, according to New England Today. The story only gets more pirate-y from there. Reportedly, the Whydah was hijacked by a pirate known as Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy shortly after it set sail from Jamaica. As the 100-foot-long ship sailed north, skirting the shores of Colonial America, Black Sam and his crew continued to commandeer other ships on their way to Massachusetts, where it's said the Black Sam's lover awaited him.

The two would never be reunited, however, because the Whydah ran into a vicious Nor'easter and its crew couldn't navigate it out of the storm to safety, despite reportedly being in sight of land. Only two of the 146 men aboard the Whydah survived that night. Now, it seems, we know the fate of at least six more.

Whose remains were found aboard the wreck of the Whydah?

While it may not be possible to put names to skeletal remains after centuries, the investigative team remains hopeful, particularly when it comes to those of Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy. In 2018, reported WCVB, a team member reached out to one of Bellamy's known descendants and obtained a sample of their DNA. With new remains now available to test, it's possible one of the six skeletons may yet be identified as the famous pirate.

Though his name may not be as well-known as Captain Kidd or Blackbeard, none other than Forbes magazine ranks Bellamy as the most successful pirate in history. As for the pirate lifestyle, it may not have been exactly what you're picturing. Clifford has described the wreck as "sacred" and notes that "a third of the crew was of African origin and the fact they had robbed the Whydah, which was a slave ship, presents them in a whole new light."