Hurricane Irma uncovered a piece of history from the bottom of Florida’s Indian River when a dugout canoe was brought to the surface.
Officials from the Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Archeological Research in the Division of Historical Resources said they are working to preserve the the canoe, estimated to weigh 600 to 700 pounds.
Randy Lathrop, of Cocoa, shared the news of his discovery on Facebook with his friends.
“I got to it before it was picked up by the county with all the other storm debris and placed in a landfill. I’ll certainly keep everyone updated on this progress, promise,” he said in his Facebook post.
The Indian River is a part of the Sovereign Submerged Lands, meaning all objects of intrinsic historical or archaeological value abandoned on state-owned lands are owned by the state with the title vested in the Division of Historical Resources, officials said.
Lathrop spotted the dugout cypress tree canoe when he was bicycling and observing damage from Hurricane Irma.
“And I was like, ‘That can’t be,'” Lathrop said.
This unlikely archaeologist knew he had to save the canoe, as a front loader was just down the street clearing debris.
“Could have very well ended up under a pile of trash or in a landfill, so we’re just happy we were able to rescue history,” he added.
A state spokesperson said the canoe is still being evaluated, but they’ve already noticed square nails, remnants of paint chips and the fact that it was likely buried and unexposed to the elements in the river.
The canoe is being stored underwater not far from where it was found until that preservation process can get underway.
A state spokesperson added that they hope to keep the canoe in the community where it was discovered so people can enjoy it and learn from it.