AP PHOTOS: Desperate for new lives, they took to the sea

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Every year, hundreds if not thousands of West African migrants disappear trying to reach the Canary Islands and, they believed, better lives in Europe. The real death toll is unknown, and so many people and boats are never seen again. But in 2021, something strange happened.

The boats, boats from the Atlantic coastal nation of Mauritania and other African nations, believed to have been used by migrants, weren’t making it to the Canaries. They were emerging on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean and even as far as Brazil. All carried a sad cargo — the bodies of young men and women who dreamt of a new life in Europe. Few were ever identified.

They had drifted to death.

For nearly two years, Associated Press journalists traced the origins of one boat and the people who died in it. Their remains were found aboard a white and blue pirogue — a Mauritanian fishing boat — drifting near the Caribbean Island of Tobago on May 28, 2021.

As they traced what became of the…

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