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January 27, 2022 39 min

National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts upends her life—including leaving her job—to join a group of Black scuba divers searching for the wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas. The journey will require an uncomfortable reckoning with the traumatic history of the slave trade. Then she learns about legendary diver Doc Jones and the underwater memorial he placed at the wreck site of the British ship Henrietta Marie in honor of the 274 Africans who had been trafficked to the West Indies from its cargo hold. As fellow National Geographic Explorer and poet Alyea Pierce gives the captive Africans a voice and speaks their names, Tara realizes there is far more to this history than pain and trauma alone.

Want more?

Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and get a sneak peek at the March cover.

And download a toolkit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.


Also explore:

Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation.

Dive into the records of the more than 36,000 voyages made during the transatlantic slave trade, including time lines, maps, and 3-D reconstructions of slave ships.

Students can learn more about the Henrietta Marie in journalist Michael H. Cottman’s book Shackles From the Deep.

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