7 episodes

Black scuba divers across the world are searching for buried shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade, when millions of enslaved Africans were trafficked to the Americas during the 15th to the 19th centuries. A new six-part podcast series, Into the Depths, follows National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts as she sets off on the journey of a lifetime to meet the divers, marine archaeologists, descendants of those brought over on ships, and historians investigating the lost stories of the slave trade. She’s inspired to share their accounts both to expand the historical record and to honor the estimated 1.8 million unsung souls who perished during the Middle Passage. Along the way, Tara meets up with her family and friends, spiritual advisers, and even a poet to help tell those ancestral stories, and delves into her own roots—challenging her assumptions about home and belonging.

Into the Depths National Geographic

    • History
    • 4.8 • 641 Ratings

Black scuba divers across the world are searching for buried shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade, when millions of enslaved Africans were trafficked to the Americas during the 15th to the 19th centuries. A new six-part podcast series, Into the Depths, follows National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts as she sets off on the journey of a lifetime to meet the divers, marine archaeologists, descendants of those brought over on ships, and historians investigating the lost stories of the slave trade. She’s inspired to share their accounts both to expand the historical record and to honor the estimated 1.8 million unsung souls who perished during the Middle Passage. Along the way, Tara meets up with her family and friends, spiritual advisers, and even a poet to help tell those ancestral stories, and delves into her own roots—challenging her assumptions about home and belonging.

    Introducing: Into the Depths

    Introducing: Into the Depths

    Black scuba divers across the world are searching for buried shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade, when millions of enslaved Africans were trafficked to the Americas during the 15th to the 19th centuries. A new six-part podcast series, Into the Depths, follows National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts as she sets off on the journey of a lifetime to meet the divers, marine archaeologists, descendants of those brought over on ships, and historians investigating the lost stories of the slave trade. She’s inspired to share their accounts both to expand the historical record and to honor the estimated 1.8 million unsung souls who perished during the Middle Passage. Along the way, Tara meets up with her family and friends, spiritual advisers, and even a poet to help tell those ancestral stories, and delves into her own roots—challenging her assumptions about home and belonging.
    Into the Depths begins January 27, 2022.

    • 2 min
    Episode 1: Trusting

    Episode 1: Trusting

    National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts upends her life—including leaving her job—to join a group of Black scuba divers searching for the wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas. The journey will require an uncomfortable reckoning with the traumatic history of the slave trade. Then she learns about legendary diver Doc Jones and the underwater memorial he placed at the wreck site of the British ship Henrietta Marie in honor of the 274 Africans who had been trafficked to the West Indies from its cargo hold. As fellow National Geographic Explorer and poet Alyea Pierce gives the captive Africans a voice and speaks their names, Tara realizes there is far more to this history than pain and trauma alone.

    Want more?
    Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and get a sneak peek at the March cover.
    And download a toolkit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.
     
    Also explore:
    Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation.
    Dive into the records of the more than 36,000 voyages made during the transatlantic slave trade, including time lines, maps, and 3-D reconstructions of slave ships.
    Students can learn more about the Henrietta Marie in journalist Michael H. Cottman’s book Shackles From the Deep.

    • 38 min
    Episode 2: Training

    Episode 2: Training

    When National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts meets Ken Stewart, the co-founder of Diving With a Purpose (DWP), she’s moved by his near 20-year mission to find the Spanish pirate ship Guerrero, which wrecked off the coast of Florida in 1827. Tara decides to train with DWP, learning how to find and map a shipwreck. With the help of poet and fellow Explorer Alyea Pierce, Tara tries to imagine the journey of the enslaved Africans on the Guerrero and how their spirits might have flown home after they perished at sea.

    Want more?
    Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and get a sneak peek at the March cover.
    And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.

    Also explore:
    Listen to author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s full 2009 Ted Talk on the danger of a single story.
    Learn more about Diving With a Purpose co-founder Ken Stewart and the organization’s ongoing efforts to find the Guerrero, and take a deeper dive into the wrecking of the ship off the Florida Keys in 1827.
    Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation.

    • 33 min
    Episode 3: Building

    Episode 3: Building

    National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts witnesses a new type of maritime archaeology under way in Costa Rica, one with a community at its center and young people in the lead. As Tara meets journalist María Suárez Toro and her band of divers, she sees the power of a society shaping its own history. She also hears the tale of rebellions aboard the Danish ships Fredericus Quartus and Christianus Quintus. Tara dives to a wreck site thought to be the resting place for the ships and has a firsthand view of artifacts on the ocean floor. She and fellow Explorer Alyea Pierce try to picture a female-led insurrection on one of the ships.

    Want more?
    Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and read the March cover story.
    And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.

    Also explore:
    Find out more about Ambassadors of the Sea and the community underwater archaeology efforts underway in Costa Rica.
    Check out the work of National Geographic Explorer Justin Dunnavant, and his work with other Black archaeologists in Estate Little Princess, a former sugar cane and rum plantation on the Caribbean island of St. Croix.
    Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation.

    • 31 min
    Episode 4: Disassembling

    Episode 4: Disassembling

    National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts heads to Africa, her ancestral homeland. She visits Doors of No Return, walks the slave trail in Benin, and learns about the long legacy of African free divers who excavated ships all over the world as far back as the 16th century. After an initial burst of Afro-joy, Tara soon realizes she’s viewed largely as American rather than Black on the continent. Her understanding of self, Blackness, and Africa are turned upside down. But later, while dancing to South African house music under the stars, she finds a connection once again.

    Want more?
    Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and read the March cover story.
    And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.

    Also explore:
    If you’re interested in the history of Black aquatic culture, historian Kevin Dawson lays out the connections between African people and the water in his book Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Cultures in the African Diaspora.
    Read the powerful account of Kossola, also known by the name Cudjo Lewis, in author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston’s book, Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo.’
    Find out more about the many “doors of no return” that dot Africa’s west coast, including the sites at Ouidah and Elmina Castle, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    • 37 min
    Episode 5: Healing

    Episode 5: Healing

    National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts begins to understand the healing power of diving for shipwrecks from the slave trade when she learns of a ceremony that honored the 212 Africans lost aboard the Portuguese ship São José Paquete d’Africa. Diver Kamau Sadiki, Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, and South African luminary Albie Sachs take turns describing the ritual, held in both Mozambique and South Africa, which brought tears, reflection, and resolution. Tara invites fellow Explorer Alyea Pierce to help visualize the centuries-long disintegration of the São José, which sank off the coast of Cape Town in 1794.

    Want more?
    Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and read the March cover story.
    And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.

    Also explore:
    Find out more about the Slave Wrecks Project, the consortium of organizations working to uncover and document slave shipwrecks globally, hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
    The Iziko Museums of South Africa provides a closer look at the wreck of the São José through its exhibition, Unshackled History: the Wreck of the Slave Ship, São José, 1794, which includes online resources.
    Watch footage from a dive exploring the wreck of the São José off the coast of Cape Town’s Clifton Beach, and hear accounts from historians and the divers documenting the findings.

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
641 Ratings

641 Ratings

astockk ,

Refreshing deep dive

What an exciting and enthralling podcast about a phenomenal community of divers.
History, science, socio-political issues presenting in the form of diving adventures, that's easy to understand and listen to!

lagar ,

Superb storytelling

Tara does a remarkable job bringing the full range of emotions and tragic but fascinating history to life. Highly recommend to anyone interested in learning about this important subject matter.

Cuca Girl ,

Very interesting!

I learned a lot in listening to this podcast. I highly recommend it!

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