National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts takes us on a journey through history as she covers the stories of some of the estimated 1,000 shipwrecks of slave ships in the Atlantic Ocean that took place during the transatlantic slave trade in which approximately 12.5 million Africans were forced to cross the Middle Passage.
In the new six-part podcast, Into the Depths, Roberts tells of her time with a group of Black divers whose mission is to locate and help document the wrecks.
Episode 1: Trusting
Upending her life to set off on this quest, even leaving her job, she meets legendary Black diver and International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame inductee Dr Albert José Jones, who founded Underwater Adventure Seekers and the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, and learns about his project to place a memorial on the British wreck of the Henrietta Marie to honor the 272 Africans trafficked to the West Indies in the vessel’s cargo hold. With National Geographic Explorer and poet Alyea Pierce, who gives voice to the captive Africans and speaks their names, Roberts finds there is far more than pain and trauma alone to reckon with in the history of the slave trade.
Episode 2: Training
Roberts meets Ken Stewart, co-founder of Diving With a Purpose (DWP), who tells the tale of his nearly 20-year mission to locate the Spanish pirate ship Guerrero, carrying enslaved Africans and wrecking off Florida’s coast in 1827. She decides to take up dive training with DWP, which includes learning how to find and map a shipwreck. Roberts tries to imagine what the enslaved Africans on the Guerrero experienced with the help of poet and fellow Explorer Pierce.
Episode 3: Building
In Costa Rica, Roberts meets a multigenerational community of divers documenting two Danish shipwrecks, the Fredericus Quartus and the Christianus Quintus, which carried slaves and experienced rebellions on board. Here, a new type of marine archaeology is taking shape, which is centered on the local community and driven by young people. She learns from journalist María Suárez Toro that the divers are playing a major role in reshaping a society’s own history. Roberts and fellow Explorer Pierce try to draw a picture of a female-led insurrection that took place on one of the ships.
See the trailer and upcoming episodes at: nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/into-the-depths