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Treasure hunters have long been obsessed with retrieving shiny gold doubloons and dazzling jewels from shipwrecks in the Bahamas. But these wrecks are worth far more than the treasures they hide below the ocean’s surface; they also offer a window into the past, revealing new information about politics, shipping routes, navigation, shipbuilding, slavery and more.
To British holidaymakers, the Bahamas are a haven of pristine beaches and stunning weather. But for centuries, the islands, which lie in the heart of the feared patch of ocean known as the Bermuda Triangle, have been a death trap for ships. Now, experts have plotted the locations of 176 vessels which sank off the islands between 1526 and 1976.
In early 2023, Allen Exploration (AllenX) – founded in 2017 by scuba diving philanthropist and underwater explorer Carl A Allen – launched The Bahamas Lost Ships Project, in collaboration with maritime historian and author of In Search of Shipwrecks, James Jenney.
Caribbean Magazine Plus
The Bahamas is a vast ships’ trap, a legend fueled by the islands’ location in the heart of the ‘Bermuda Triangle’. Mysterious currents and reefs as sharp as barbed wire have sunk countless ships since the 15th century. Nobody has a clue exactly what is down there. Some say the total may exceed 5,000 sunken wrecks.
In 2023 Allen Exploration (AllenX) launched The Bahamas Lost Ships Project in collaboration with James Jenney of In Search of Shipwrecks...
The Outdoors with Carl Allen
Coming soon. Our newest installment to the Outdoors with Carl Allen, "Bahama Banks: Recovering Lost Legacies" !!! Follow the journey of Allen Exploration & the Bahamas Maritime Museum as they explore, recover, research, & display historical artifacts from the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas that sank in 1656!
Divers have revealed new treasures from a legendary 17th century shipwreck that have been hidden beneath the Bahamas' shark-infested waters for 350 years.
The Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders) was a two-deck Spanish galleon ship that sank off the Little Bahama Bank in the northern Bahamas on January 4, 1656.
Bill Springer | Senior Contributor
I first met Carl Allen after hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in 2019. He’d just donated the use of his 182-foot-long Yacht Support Vessel AXIS to help the locals on some of the hardest hit islands in the Abacos.
During that first meeting, I learned how much Allen and his family care about the Bahamas. I also learned—sort of—why he owned such a serious support vessel that’s capable of carrying and deploying a Triton submarine, numerous outboard-powered boats and teams of scuba divers too. Back then, all he said was… “We like to search for stuff underwater.”
From August to December 1654, the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders) waited in Cartagena, Colombia, for a cargo of silver that would never arrive. Unbeknownst to the ship’s crew, its supply vessel, the Jesus Maria de la Limpia Concepción, had sunk on a reef off Ecuador that October.
Only after the Concepción’s silver was salvaged and stowed on the Maravillas, alongside the galleon’s own fresh load of silver coins and bars, did the Lady of Wonders embark on its journey home to Spain.
It was a Spanish galleon laden with treasures so sumptuous that its sinking in the Bahamas in 1656 sparked repeated salvage attempts over the next 350 years. So when another expedition was launched recently, few thought that there could be anything left – but exquisite, jewel-encrusted pendants and gold chains are among spectacular finds that have now been recovered, having lain untouched on the seabed for hundreds of years.