St. Johns County

St. Augustine archaeologist says mystery object unearthed by hurricanes could be 1800s cargo ship

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A “mystery structure” that was revealed by beach erosion after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole in Volusia County has been identified by a St. Augustine archaeologist.

St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeologist Chuck Meide has confirmed that the object is, in fact, a shipwreck, according to a release from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.


“The shipwreck is most likely a cargo-carrying sailing vessel from the 1800s. It would have likely sailed within sight of the coast and used lighthouses for navigation, though it was probably big enough to cross the Atlantic as well,” Meide said in the release. “It was re-buried by the time we got to it, so we didn’t see it at full exposure. We are not sure of its overall size but reports of witnesses said the wreckage was between 80 to 100 feet long.”

The museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program was on-site in Daytona Beach Shores on Monday and Tuesday to measure and study parts of the ship that are above the sand, which is near Frank Rendon Park in Daytona Beach.

“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,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd said in the release. “The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources is committed to protecting and promoting these significant submerged cultural resources. The Florida Department of State thanks Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) and Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) for their rapid response to this recently exposed wreck on behalf of the state.” We encourage the public to contact the Bureau of Archaeological Research when artifacts or sites are exposed on the beach. Please take only pictures and leave only footprints so as to preserve the integrity of archaeological sites for future generations of Floridians.”

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