With his captivating storytelling and unrivaled expedition experience, Ben takes you on awe-inspiring journeys that will leave you yearning for more, redefining the boundaries of exploration and the environment.

Ben Raines is an environmental journalist, filmmaker, and adventurer. In 2018, he discovered the wreck of the Clotilda, the last ship carrying enslaved Africans to arrive in the United States. His book, The Last Slave Ship – The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning, details the discovery and the inspiring tale of the Clotida’s survivors. Raines is the Writer and Filmmaker in Residence at the University of South Alabama, and has won dozens of awards for his coverage of environmental issues. He has coauthored several peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals. He wrote and directed The Underwater Forest, an award-winning film about the exploration of a 70,000-year-old cypress forest found off the Alabama coast. Raines also wrote and produced the documentary America’s Amazon, which has aired on PBS stations around the country. His latest film, The Carnivorous Kingdom, premiered on Alabama Public Television in 2022. His underwater film work has appeared in documentaries on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic TV. Raines has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, the BBC, England’s Channel 4, NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News. His journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Raines also wrote the award-winning nature book, Saving America’s Amazon, and co-authored the book Heart of a Patriot with U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, which chronicled Cleland’s journey from triple amputee after a grenade accident in Vietnam to the U.S. Senate. Ben is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in filmmaking, and is a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain, giving tours of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Alabama’s barrier islands. He lives with his wife in Fairhope, Alabama, and aboard the Suzanne, an 82-year-old river boat moored on the Tensaw River.

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The Last Slave Ship

An exploration of the discovery and legacy of the Clotilda, the last ship to bring enslaved Africans to the United States, delivered by the journalist who found the ship. While most families whose ancestors arrived in the Americas in the hold of a ship know nothing beyond the names of the plantations where their relatives were enslaved, more is known about the lives of the Clotilda’s passengers than is known about any group of enslaved people in the 400 year history of the slave trade. Raines traces the journey of the captives from their pre-enslavement lives in individual villages in West Africa, through their capture during the infamous slaving raids of Dahomey, their time in the barracoons, the ocean crossing known as the Middle Passage, their enslavement, and finally freedom after emancipation. With so much known about the passengers both before and after enslavement, the Clotilda story serves as a sort of origin story for the African diaspora globally, shedding light on the experiences of the 12 million anonymous souls stolen from Africa. The talk also focuses on reconciliation efforts in America and in Africa, where the wounds of slavery still cause conflict between the tribes that were captured and the tribes that did the capturing.


The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning

The incredible true story of the last ship to carry enslaved people to America, the remarkable town its survivors founded after emancipation, and the complicated legacy their descendants carry with them to this day—by the journalist who discovered the ship’s remains.

Saving America's Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System

Though almost no one knows it, the most diverse forests and aquatic systems in the nation lie in Alabama. Described as America’s Amazon, Alabama has more species per square mile than any other state.

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