In the world of Queensland’s “Shipwreck Mermaid”, maritime archaeologist Maddy McAllister

Maritime Archaeologist Maddy McAllister’s fascination with wrecks began as a young girl, hearing tales of ghost ships and sea legends from her grandfather on the coast of Western Australia.

Her favorite story at the time was the mystery of the Mary Celeste which was found abandoned off the coast of Portugal in 1872.

The story sparked a long-standing passion for the secrets of wrecks and dived into the depths of the ocean to uncover them.

“He was found floating in the middle of the ocean and the entire crew was missing,” Dr McAllister said of the famous ghost ship.

Dr McAllister studies wrecks for a living, creating new images of the past. Credit: Grumpy Turtle Creative. (Provided)

“There is this kind of amazing mystery, adventure and scary aspect that I loved.

Dr McAllister always wanted to be a marine biologist, but at age 15, she discovered a new path.

“I found out there was this crazy, rarely heard job called a maritime archaeologist, where you can combine history, archeology and underwater work,” she told .to.

Dr McAllister is now the senior curator of the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville and James Cook University and has said her work is akin to detective work, pulling together stories from the past.

The Mary Celeste was found abandoned, and none of those on board were ever seen or heard from again. (Provided)

The exploration of the unknown and the opportunity to piece together hidden stories motivate his passion for the field.

“Once you’re in the water that’s when it kind of comes back to you, that you look at something that’s been around maybe a few hundred years,” Dr McAllister said. .

“I’m still incredibly excited because I get the chance to be there and see it.

I am always delighted to see how much this wreck could be preserved and what we can learn from it. “

Ships like the Yongala have become thriving havens for marine life. (Provided)
Dr Maddy McAllister is the Senior Curator of the Maritime Collection at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. (Provided)

Dr McAllister has just returned from a week-long field project in the Coral Sea, working to identify new wrecks discovered on the Great Barrier Reef.

This is one of many research projects she has been involved in around the world, from diving in the Middle East to other famous wrecks all over Australia.

Rare fish with transparent head and bright green eyes has been found

Once she slips below the surface of the water and is presented with a wreck, Dr. McAllister must piece together subtle clues to understand how she ended up on the ocean floor.

The structure of the ship can often indicate what period it is from.

Plunge the SS. Yongala, a 100-meter luxury ship lost in a cyclone in 1911. (Provided)

Dr McAllister is keenly aware that death is often linked to the sinking of ships and has said she does her job with the utmost respect for those lost.

“Many people have died on these ships often and it fills you with honor or respect that you have the job to investigate and tell this story if you can,” said Dr McAllister.

Many people think Dr. McAllister’s job involves treasure hunting, but she finds little personal ideas far more interesting than any valuable loot.

“I don’t think the silver pieces or the gold pieces are the most interesting parts of the wreck,” she said.

Dr McAllister grew up diving off the coast of Western Australia, which fueled a long-standing passion for the ocean. (Provided)

“A lot of times we find amazing things like leather shoes that may still have footprints from people who wear them, which may be 150 years old.

“You have that kind of a direct connection to someone aboard this shipwreck.”

Dr McAllister has had the opportunity to study famous wrecks in Australia and around the world, including the SS Yongala off Townsville, which sank in 1911. (Provided)

But the diver and curator said it wasn’t always fieldwork and new discoveries.

As the museum’s senior curator, she has spent as much time out of the water as inside, analyzing and conserving finds for her collections.

When not at work, she shares Australia’s often-unknown underwater history on social media as “Shipwreck Mermaid”, sharing dives on famous shipwrecks like “Australia’s Titanic” – the luxurious SS Yongala which disappeared off Townsville in 1911.

Dr McAllister said his dream wrecks are not the awe-inspiring sites that capture the public’s imagination, but those that remain to be discovered.

She hopes to continue to search for the hundreds of mysterious ships stranded off the Australian coast.

“There are over 900 ship and plane wrecks on the Great Barrier Reef and we have probably located only 150 to 200,” she said.

“The dream would be to identify a new site and discover an incredible story.”


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