Hurricane Season Bares Shipwrecks; Archaeologists Studying Wrecks Revealed in Sands of Anastasia Island, New Smyrna Beach

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN LEWIS, The Times-Union

Shipwrecks surfaced on Anastasia Island and New Smyrna Beach after the hurricane season, spurring St. Augustine archaeologists into a monthlong identification project to protect them from looting and study them before they vanish under sand again.

"We're getting information about America," said Kathy Fleming, executive director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. The museum sponsors the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, whose members seek and analyze submerged vessels.

The wreck on the shores of Anastasia State Recreation Area was probably built in the United States about 1835 for coastal trade, said John Morris III, executive director of the maritime program. Bits of wood from the wreck were sent to a lab for analysis that should be complete in about a month, he said.

A park ranger found portions of a keel and copper sheathing from a ship bottom on the beach in October. The wreckage can be seen at low tide.

A second wreck on New Smyrna Beach was a ship built in the mid-to-late 1700s with British techniques, he said. The Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program doesn't usually venture to Volusia County, but it identified the wreckage at the request of the state because it was vulnerable to looters, Morris said. …