STATE SAYS WHIDAH BELONGS TO IT, TOO
SOUTH WELLFLEET—A team of Cape and islands treasure hunters, who believe they have found the fortune-laden pirate vessel, Whidah, 700 yards off Marconi Beach, will ultimately seek their riches not on the ocean's floor, but in a courtroom.
A state archaeology official said yesterday the commonwealth will file the first claim to a portion of the $80 to $200 million in gold, silver, ivory and jewels that legend says was aboard the 300-ton, London built galley ship when it sand in a storm April 26, 1717.
Under provisions of the 1973 state Underwater Archaeological Act, state officials claim the commonwealth is entitled to 25 percent of what is discovered from the wreck. The act also empowers the state to oversee the salvage operation and says the state, along with private museums in Massachusetts, have the first option to buy, at market value, any historical articles recovered.
"The state will very definitely file a claim," said Joseph Sinnott, chairman of the Underwater Marine Archaeology Board, the agency that oversees the state's underwater wrecks. "We believe the wreck was found in state-owned and state-controlled waters and we will be in court when the hearings are held."
Cape Cod Times, December 3, 1982.