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O’Donoghue reached out to the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), which sent researchers to investigate. After assessing the site, the team determined that they’d stumbled onto the wreckage of a vessel that likely ran aground on Florida’s northeast coast during the 19th century, when Crescent Beach looked decidedly different.

“The sand dune wasn’t here when the ship wrecked,” archaeologist Chuck Meide tells First Coast News. “We know topography and the landscape of a coast changes a lot."

He speculates that a storm eventually pushed the shipwreck far up on the beach, where sand formed around it.

Based on the wooden timbers and iron fasteners, Meide tells Ryan Nelson of Action News Jax that the vessel was most likely a merchant ship.

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