Archeologists say they have retrieved a nearly 3,000-pound anchor dating back to 1717 from a ship that could link provide clues into Blackbeard, one of the world's most notorious pirates.
Divers used a pulley system of straps and ropes to hoist the 300-year-old shell and debris-covered anchor, which is 11 feet, 4 inches long with arms that are 7 feet across, from 20 feet of water off the coast of Morehead, N.C.
Reasearchers hope their exploration of the shipwreck will lead to greater detail of the story of Edward Teach, the English pirate who came to be known as Blackbeard after becoming one of the most feared marauders on the high seas. They plan to salvage the remaining artifacts left from the central part of his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge.
"This is Blackbeard's ship you know, the most famous pirate in history. the one name that everyone recognizes when you mention it, so I'd say this is incredibly priceless," Ken Howard, director of the North Carolina Museum of History told ABC News.
Teach began his career on the high seas as a privateer for Queen Anne of Britain, allowed to plunder French and Spanish ships during the War of the Spanish Succession. But with the success he had stealing from foreign ships, when the war was over he didn't stop, preying on any ship that crossed his path.
Followers of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies may have seen his character in the latest edition of the trilogy.
Blackbeard captured the Queen Anne's Revenge, a French slave ship, in 1717, after successfully blockading the harbor in Charleston, S.C., where he demanded money and goods from the towns people for weeks.
He used Ocracoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as his base of operations, it was there that he met his end in 1718.
He was rumored to have a treasure hidden somewhere, but if he did, the secret died with him.
The tale and the items Blackbeard collected are what the team leading the Queen Anne's Revenge project are hoping to find.
Dr. Mark Wilde-Ramsing, an archaeologist with North Carolina's Underwater Archaeology Branch, told The Associated Press the anchor would be the third-largest artifact of the notorious pirate ship.
The anchor was discovered during an expedition to locate the ships' second-largest artifact, which was found to have too many other items attached to recover, he said.
The ship's site was discovered in 1996 by scientists with a group called Intelstat, a Florida operation. To date, many other items have surrouding the shipwreck site have been discovered, including canoes.
This latest expedition recovered a sword that the archaelogists believe could be one of Blackbeard's own.