In early August, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia held a training for their new wreck tagging program, which will document the artifacts that are found on the refuge. Credit: Gil Langley
Ever find a piece of debris on the beach and wonder what it is and where it came from? Those questions have come up many times at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge since the passage of Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. Timbers from old sailing ships, bottles and other historic artifacts washed ashore onto Assateague Island during and after the storm.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Commonwealth of Virginia and State of Maryland archaeologists, volunteers, students and researchers have been working diligently to collect and preserve these artifacts when practical. Additionally, staff at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in cooperation with its federal, state and local partners have developed a unique “wreck tagging” program for old ship timbers. Through this research we hope to better understand how these relics of our seafaring history move around in the coastal environment. This information may help us to better protect and conserve our maritime history.
This is a piece of a historic wooden shipwreck that was found at the southern end of Assateague Island. The tag is fixed on the structure and will help to trace this item’s movement throughout Virginia and Maryland. Credit: USFWS
This is one of dozens of 19th century shoes that have been found on the shore of the refuge. Credit: USFWS
Austin Berkhard, a refuge volunteer and rising sophomore at the University of West Florida was hired this summer to work on the project.