UNDERWATER PRESERVATION OFF RHODE ISLAND
Rhode Island has more shipwrecks than any other part of the country,” says Kathy Abbass, executive director and founder of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project. Some of those wrecks have huge historical significance. Thirteen Royal Navy ships, all dating back to the Revolutionary War, rest on the bottom of Newport Harbor, and one of those is likely the Endeavour, made famous by legendary global explorer
Captain James Cook (right).
A professor of anthropology and sociology, Abbass grew interested in maritime history and archaeology and then trained in marine technology before forming RIMAP in
1992 to work on the exploration and protection of the wrecks. Prior to that, no one was
involved in the wrecks’ preservation.
“A lot of people scuba dive, and things were being torn up and carried off,” she says.
For those interested in getting up close and personal in saving the ghosts of the
deep, “anybody can walk in off the street and join us.” Besides scuba training, a budding
underwater archaeologist must take an introductory class in marine archaeology
before assisting in the mapping and excavation. — P.S.