Underwater cultural heritage encompasses all traces of human existence that lie, or were lying, underwater and have a cultural or historical character. This includes shipwrecks and their associated artifacts as well as underwater structures, wharves and slipways, anchorages and mooring locations, dumping grounds, and fish ponds.
Bermuda waters are littered with hundreds of shipwrecks, spanning five centuries, including French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English, Danish, Italian and American vessels. They met their fate on Bermuda’s reefs, beaches and harbours due to inaccurate charts, raging storms, and human error.
Once investigated and critically analysed, shipwrecks and associated artifacts not only help to shed light on the past, but also become attractions for locals and overseas visitors—whether seen underwater or in a museum.
For over 35 years, the Museum has cared for, researched, documented, conserved, displayed and published on its collection of locally recovered shipwreck artifacts. The Museum has also carried out numerous archaeological excavations and surveys in partnerships with overseas universities to help further our understanding of our past.
If you are lucky enough to dive into or snorkel in Bermuda’s waters, take only pictures and leave only bubbles! Do your part and spread this message to help protect our underwater cultural heritage.