Voyage Into the Deep: Part I - Shipwreck

Published: Nov. 6, 2011 at 10:10 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 6, 2011 at 11:14 PM HST
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Marine Archaeologist Dr. Kelly Gleason
Marine Archaeologist Dr. Kelly Gleason

By Oscar Valenzuela - bio | email

Polynesian seafarers were the first known navigators through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, then came the western explorers and by the early 19th century whaling ships began making their way to the Japan whaling grounds.

"...In search of whale oil which was kind of like liquid gold of its time so this is what would send whaling vessels halfway around the world in search of whales." said Marine Archaeologist Dr. Kelly Gleason, the Maritime Heritage Coordinator for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Unbeknownst to these early whaling crews there were unseen perils that would compromise their voyages. "At that time the atolls weren't very well charted so they very much acted like a ship trap." said Dr. Gleason.

A barrage of hidden reefs would snag unsuspecting mariners."They would just creep right up on them and so all of a sudden they found themselves run aground." she continued.

On February 11th, 1823  the whaling ship Two Brothers ran aground and was lost in the Northwest chain.

Over the years others had tried and failed to locate the site, as noted in one coastal survey published in the year 1919: Several vessels had searched for the location of the two brothers reef but the shallow reef in question could not be found casting it's very existence as doubtful.

Then, 188 years later, Dr. Gleason had pieced together enough evidence to declare a new maritime heritage discovery. She had found the Two Brothers wreck.

The story was covered worldwide. A tale bout the twice cursed Captain George Pollard who'd previously lost another ship, the Essex, to an angered whale. The incident inspired the classic novel Moby Dick.

"Finding a shipwreck site with a story as compelling as that of the Two Brothers is even more meaningful and exciting." Gleason stated.

No known images of the original Two Brothers ship exists, but on a recent expedition back to the wreck site, Hawaii News Now was allowed to shoot  exclusive footage of the wreck, capturing never before seen video images of the ship's scattered remains on the shallow reef that pierced Captain Pollard's ship.

Gleason put together the evidence for the Two Brothers found at the site researching items like Blubber Hooks and Trypots used to boil the whale blubber into oil.

A perfect collection of lost remnants kept preserved in the protected waters of the Monument. Now revealing valuable historic details about the ill-fated early 19th century whaling vessel.

"You realize it's more than just a collection of artifacts on the sea floor it's really kind of a window and a history." said Dr. Gleason who's discovery now offers an up close look into Hawaii's rich seafaring history.

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