A mysterious object that began appearing along Florida's eastern shore after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole is likely the remnants of a 19th-century shipwreck, archaeologists said.
The wooden ship was unearthed in recent weeks by beach erosion in Daytona Beach Shores but has now been partially buried again due to the tides, according to the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.
A team with the archaeological program was on site this week to study the wreckage, which is believed to be 80 to 100 feet long. Members used shovels, trowels and their hands to carefully dig around the exposed frame.
Some speculated that the object was a dock, archaeologist Chuck Meide, who is the director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, told ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV. Though he confirmed Tuesday that it is a shipwreck.
"This definitely looks like a shipwreck to us," Meide told the station. "This definitely has what we would call ribs, or the ship's brains."
The ship was likely a cargo-carrying sailing vessel from the 1800s, according to Meide. His archeological team has been working to measure and analyze the exposed ship. Archaeologists from the Florida Department of State Bureau of Archaeological Research and the Florida Public Archaeology Network have been assisting Meide's team with their work.
There are no plans for what would be a costly effort to remove the wreckage from the site, as it's currently protected in the sand, Meide told The Associated Press.
The wreck, which is near Frank Rendon Park in Daytona Beach, has drawn curious passersby in recent days.
"You can just see from people coming onto the beach to look at it, they are captivated, they are excited," Meide told WFTV.
Tourist Tammi Ames was among those who went out to catch the glimpse of the discovery.
"It's so cool," she told WFTV. "I'm so glad that I got to see it. It's very historical."
Florida officials encouraged the public to contact the state's Bureau of Archaeological Research if they come across artifacts 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," Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said in a statement.
Hurricane Ian, a powerful category 4 storm, made landfall in late September on Florida's southwest coast before moving over central Florida and exiting into the Atlantic Ocean.
In early November, Hurricane Nicole made landfall along Florida's east coast as a Category 1 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm, causing unprecedented structural damage along the coastline in Volusia County.
Nicole's powerful winds helped unearth remains at a beach on Florida's Hutchinson Island. Local authorities believed the recovered bodies were from a Native American burial ground in the area.
Buried 19th-century shipwreck likely uncovered by hurricanes on Florida beach originally appeared on abcnews.go.com