A maritime heritage resource is one that has any type of historical, cultural, archaeological, or paleontological significance and is greater than 50 years old

artifacts on the seafloor

Maritime heritage resources can be shipwreck sites, structures, and objects that can be associated with earlier people, cultures, human activities, or events.

One example of a maritime heritage resource is a historic site. A historic site may contain wreckage from a shipwreck or could be a wharf or other submerged structure. Shipwrecks can include parts of the actual ship structure such as pieces of wooden or iron hull and frames, as well as associated items like masts, cannons, and ship’s fittings. It is also common to find items associated with the crew or cargo, including ceramics, glassware, and coins. Maritime heritage resources can even include living cultures.

In Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, many maritime heritage resources come from a broad historical range, spanning the European Colonial Period to the Modern Era. While these and other maritime heritage resources of the sanctuary represent important historic clues to our nation’s past, it is also important to note that native peoples occupied the Florida Keys and South Florida long before the first Europeans arrived. For generations, they traveled the coast in dugout canoes to fish and trade goods. Tools fashioned from marine shells have been found on the Keys and are evidence of this early occupation.

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