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Experts believe mysterious object on Florida beach is 1800s’ shipwreck

DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. — For weeks, residents and local officials in Daytona Beach Shores have speculated about a mysterious object unearthed after Tropical Storm Nicole eroded much of the beach.

On Tuesday, after a group of approximately 10 Florida archaeologists dug in the sand to uncover the structure, it seems a shipwreck from the 1800s is the most likely conclusion. 

“This is definitely a ship,” said Chuck Meide, director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. “And that’s just because of the construction of it. You can see these timbers sticking up, those are massive, and the way they’re arranged, that’s how you build a ship.”

The structure is approximately 80 feet long and mostly made of wood.

Meide, who has been with LAMP for 15 years, and his team were assisted by archaeologists from the Florida Department of State Bureau of Archaeological Research and the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

Archaeology crew members from St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum's research program sift through debris that was exposed during Tropical Storms Ian and Nicole. Researchers believe the object is an old merchant ship, dating back to the 1800s.

Although the structure’s characteristics point to a shipwreck, more details about its history are difficult to pinpoint, Meide said.

“We are basically doing an assessment of it, to the best we can, to try to understand what it is,” he said. “We want to understand the nature and condition of the wreck itself. Is it in good shape? Is it deteriorated? How much has survived? We want to understand the cultural, historical parameters of it, how old it is, what country does it come from, what was its purpose. Those are basic questions when it comes to a shipwreck.”