A mysterious 80-foot structure has been unearthed with the help of hurricanes Ian and Nicole, major storms that battered Florida in the last few months of the hurricane season.
The structure was discovered Thanksgiving weekend during a low tide in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, just a short walk from “the world’s most famous beach.” The structure protrudes in two lines made up of wood pieces. It was initially unclear what the structure was, but archeologists who examined it Tuesday believe they have the answer.
“The erosion is unprecedented at this point,” said Volusia Beach Safety Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs. “We haven’t seen this kind of erosion in a very long time. I’ve been on the beach probably 25 years that’s the first time I’ve seen it exposed.”
Archeologists who studied the discovery believe it is a cargo ship from the 1800s. What was left of it was buried under five feet of sand. The researchers believe the potential merchant ship was traveling along the coast, before it was sunk by a storm. They say the remains are extremely fragile and strongly warned against messing with the site. Removing anything from the area is a third-degree felony because it is considered an archeological site, according to WFTV9.
“If you have a random, wooden shipwreck on the beach, it’s most likely a wreck from the 1800s and that’s because there were so many more ships sailing in the 1800s than in the centuries before,” Chuck Meide, Director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, told Click Orlando.
State archeologists are planning further investigation into the wooden remains in an attempt to age the wood, including examining maritime records to potentially identify the ship. WFTV Reporter Mike Springer says that “due to the materials and construction of the ship and the number of ships sailing off the coast, archeologists believe the 1800s is the most likely era.”
Here are some more photos of the object that’s been unearthed on the beach just south of Frank Rendon Park.
Archeologists are here for their final day unearthing it.
They believe it is a ship. Possibly carrying cargo off the coast of Florida during the 1800’s. pic.twitter.com/SvyfC8CJiw
— Mike Springer WFTV (@mspringerwftv) December 6, 2022
Daytona-area beaches are known for their hard-packed sand, and many areas allow driving on the beach. Hurricanes Ian and Nicole removed layers of the area’s sand. In the wake of Nicole, Governor Ron DeSantis announced $20 million in emergency beach repair to help coastal flooding and beach erosion.
“This is obviously not as significant as a storm as Hurricane Ian was, but coming on the heels of that, you’re seeing communities, particularly in the Volusia County area, that had a lot of erosion on the coastline,” DeSantis said last month.
Saint Augustine Maritime Archaeologists confirm to me that this is a shipwreck likely from the mid to late 1800s. They believe it was likely a merchant ship. They will be taking timber samples to test to try to determine where the ship was built. @fox35orlando pic.twitter.com/dvl0I8sCrZ
— Dave Puglisi (@DavePuglisiTV) December 6, 2022
Fox 35 reporter Dave Puglisi says that Saint Augustine Maritime Archeologists are trying to determine where the ship was built and where it was traveling from. State archeologists are working with other archeologists on the investigation. Mark Ard, the Florida Department of State director of external affairs, told Fox 13 that researchers will record and document as much of the site as possible to understand the context of the debris.