Mystery debris on Florida beach solved? Here’s what archaeologists think it is

Object located just south of Frank Rendon Park in Daytona Beach Shores

DAYTONA BEACH SHORES, Fla. – Mysterious debris revealed in the wake of Hurricane Nicole in Daytona Beach Shores could be a ship from the 19th century.

Archaeologists with the state uncovered about 20 feet of what appears to be a cargo vessel or merchant ship, the equivalent of a semitruck, on Tuesday. They said the ship is likely 100 feet in length and believed to be from the 19th century.

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Chuck Meide, director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, said features of the debris resemble shipwrecks that date to the 1800s.

“If you have a random, wooden shipwreck on the beach, it’s most likely a wreck from the 1800s and that’s because there were so many more ships sailing in the 1800s than in the centuries before, so there were a lot more shipwrecks,” he said.

The wreckage was discovered just south of Frank Rendon Park in Daytona Beach Shores after Hurricane Nicole came through in November.

It’s believed the unprecedented beach erosion caused by Nicole and Hurricane Ian in September led to the ship being uncovered.

The team says it will continue to uncover the shipwreck. Meanwhile, they hope to go through maritime and insurance records to identify the vessel. Meide said the presumed ship did not break into a bunch of pieces but looks like “we have the intact maybe bottom or side portion of a big sailing vessel.”

“It’s really hard with a beach shipwreck or really any shipwreck to identify it beyond a shadow of a doubt and know the name of it but certainly we can look at the archives. We have a big database of ship wrecks and we can see which ones went down in this area,” Meide said.

He said it may have been a trading vessel that possibly was sailing from New Orleans to Boston or from New York to the Caribbean.

Meide said the team won’t try to remove the ship, because it’s protected where it is in the sand.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.