After two hurricanes walloped Florida, a mystery emerged along Daytona Beach Shores in Volusia County as erosion revealed a massive long-buried object.
Hurricane Ian lashed the state, followed by Hurricane Nicole, with devastation followed by mystery and eventually, discovery.
“This erosion is unprecedented at this point. We haven’t seen this kind of erosion in a very long time. I’ve been on the beach probably 25 years and that’s the first time I’ve seen it exposed,” Volusia Beach Safety Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs said as she confronted an object between 80 and 100 feet long, according to WKMG-TV.
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Excavations in early December settled the debate whether the wood poking out of the sand was part of a long-ago structure or something else, according to The New York Times.
“It is definitely a ship,” Chuck Meide, a maritime archaeologist, said. “There is no way it is not a ship.”
Meide said he believed the ship dated from the 1800s.
Meide, director of the research arm of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, said it is uncertain what the ship might have carried. He said it could have been carrying fruit to the north, or manufactured goods to the south.
“As archaeologists, we certainly see value in this because it is an example of something that was an extremely important part of our society. America is a maritime nation. It’s a relic of a bygone age and something we rarely get a glimpse into,” he said.
Getting a peek at what nature had covered was not easy. One night when a trench was dug to examine the wreck, it had to be dug out all over again after it was filled in with sand due to the tide.
The more they looked, the more they found, with iron bolts, nails, and fasteners appearing along with what was left of the wooden frame of the ship.
“We believe it is most likely to be an 1800s shipwreck and most likely a merchant ship. A cargo-carrying vessel that would have sailed in sight of land up and down the coast,” he said
Samples of the wood were taken in hopes of determining the ship’s exact age.
“It’s not an exact science by any means, but potentially we might be able to do tree-ring analysis and get a better date. But we don’t have complete chronologies for every species of wood,” he said.
The wreck will remain in place.
“Right now the wreck is burying itself again. It is nestled within a wet sand matrix and has been buried for over a hundred years. As long as it stays wet and in the dark, it will last pretty much forever,” he said.
Archaeologists discovered a 19th century shipwreck last week on the beaches of Daytona Shores, Florida. It is believed to be a private merchant vessel. The ship will be measured and studied, but then reburied due to its fragile state.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)#shipwreck #Daytona pic.twitter.com/z5B3EkIXm6
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“Here in Florida, we often have storms that reveal cultural material either offshore or right on the beach. In these cases, our collective human story is brought to the forefront,” Byrd said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.