Cyclone Winds Unbury Island's 130-Year-Old Shipwreck

Cyclone Yasi was a nightmare for much of the Queensland coast when it struck on Feb. 3, but for one fisherman, the massive storm uncovered a buried treasure.

(Image credit: Department of Environment and Resource Management.)

The huge cyclone 's intense winds blew away sand on one Queensland island, unearthing the outline of a mysterious shipwreck. It's a 100-foot (30-meter) longboat, stuck in the sand on Hinchinbrook Island's beach. The vessel may have been buried under the sand for more than 130 years, reported the Brisbane Times.

Yasi blew away about 100 feet (30 m) of sand from a dune that was covering the front of the shipwreck . Just enough sand was swept away to reveal the top 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of the shipwreck.

Shipwreck experts are analyzing the ship's timber to pinpoint its identity. The most likely candidates are three ships that wrecked in shallow water nearby from 1879 to 1880: The Harriet Armytage in 1879, the Charlotte Andrews in 1879 and the Belle in 1880.

"Looking at the photographs of the exposed parts of the wreck, we can see heavily rusted features and other elements such as machinery," said Paddy Waterson, of Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management, in a statement. "It appears to be a sailing ship, but further analysis is required before this can be concluded."

Those ships were trying to recover a valuable load of cedar from another ship, which was destroyed by a cyclone.

The wreck was discovered in late February by fisherman Phil Lowry. For now, there are no plans to remove the remains. The wreckage is still exposed on the beach, for any curious shipwreck fans to see.

"The wreck is best preserved by leaving it where it was found. After all, if it is one of the vessels we believe it to be, it's survived there for 130 years already," Waterson said.

Live Science Staff
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