DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum in Fenwick Island
During our family's annual summer trip to the Delaware shore, we always make a point to visit the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum in Fenwick Island.
Every year, the museum's displays change as new shipwreck artifacts are recovered. It's almost guaranteed that we'll see something new every time we visit!
I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but the museum's subdued lighting makes you feel as if you're truly under the sea as you walk past the various displays. Kids in particular find the many recovered treasures "awesome", and parents appreciate the educational focus.
The small 2,000-square-foot museum is literally a treasure trove! The displays include coins and pieces of eight, bullion, gold and silver bars, jewelry, raw emeralds used as ballast, exquisite Ming Dynasty porcelain and pottery plus hundreds of other items dating back to the 1500s. The museum staff members tell great seafaring stories and relate historical details about the exhibits.
The artifacts are primarily culled from the personal collection of Dale Clifton, a self-taught diver with the zeal of an undersea Indiana Jones. Dale has acquired more than 50,000 artifacts!
Dale founded DiscoverSea so folks could "shake hands with history". He couldn't have selected a better site for the museum; years ago, the ports along the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays were the busiest in early America, and the ships that plied these waters were fair game for pirates and vicious storms.
In addition to the artifacts, the museum offers interactive displays and a small theater where you can watch videos of various recovery adventures. And be sure to check out the electrolysis tank to see how electricity helps remove centuries of encrusted sand and ocean debris from recovered artifacts. It's fascinating.
DiscoverSea also exhibits a number of oddities that would put Ripley's Believe It or Not to shame. For instance, consider the "Fiji Mermaid," a hoax perpetrated by circus showman P.T. Barnum. It's actually a bizarre combination of a monkey torso and a large headless fish.
The DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum is full of interesting surprises. So the next time you're in the area, stop in and let this museum amaze you with its depth of treasures from Davy Jones' locker!