DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. (WFLA) — Erosion from hurricanes Ian and Nicole battered Florida’s Atlantic coast last year, tearing up beaches and even causing some waterfront homes to collapse.
The powerful storms revealed a shipwreck in the sand along Daytona Beach Shores in Nov. 2022. Last week, archaeologists spotted another possible ship in the water about 1.5 miles away.
St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime program researchers are working with the Florida Department of State to measure the wreckage and figure out its age.
Archaeologists donned scuba gear to check out the site up close, due to the murky water from all the sediment that was churned up by storms. They determined the ship was likely built in the mid-to-late 1800s, and despite enduring nearly two centuries of hurricanes, beachside development, and natural erosion, the vessel appears to be well-preserved.
Melissa Price with the Florida Department of State told WESH the site is “a substantial wreck,” and more could be hiding beneath the ocean floor. Researchers estimate there could be more than six feet of the ship’s hull still sunken in the sand.
“It had wooden planks and wooden frames or ribs. It also had some iron structural components as well, so big iron framework on the inside,” Chuck Meide, director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime program, told WESH.
Archaeologists believe the sunken ship and the one found last year were both cargo ships. They may have been carrying lumber or other materials, according to Meide.
Beachgoers are welcome to check out the wreck for themselves, but they are asked not to touch anything.
“You have to treat it kind of like a crime scene,” Price told WESH. “We are the CSI investigators. The more you remove from the site the less of a story that we have so it’s important to just leave things as they are and give us a call.”
The archaeologists said they are not surprised to have found two shipwrecks recently unearthed by hurricanes. Similar ships frequently cruised (and crashed) along the Florida coast in the 19th century – so you likely could be standing on top of one the next time you head to the beach.