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Shipwrecks weather Sandy

By Ellen Bacca
Published On: Oct 31 2012 06:27:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 31 2012 10:08:49 PM CDT
Eastern Carolina -

We can see the effects of storms like Sandy as they slam against the shore. What we don't see, is the way the waves affect the sea floor. But underwater archaeologists say the impact is significant.

"Normally we aren't able to work, we aren't able to work on site with a big storm like the one that just went by," says David Moore.

In fact, Sandy was such a powerful storm, the team working on Black Beard's flag ship packed up their project for the season a few days early.

Water moving around a single knot can start to move sand on the ocean floor. Storms like Sandy, that churn off the coast for days instead of hours can move a lot of sand in a short period of time. For excavators working on The Queen Ann's Revenge, shifting sand will sneak into crevasses and holes archaeologists spent over two months creating.

On one hand, Moore says the sand will create a protective layer around the ship, protecting it from harm. But on the other hand, the same currentĀ  can also scour out new areasĀ  on the ship and roll away precious artifacts.

Moore says during Hurricane Bonnie an ancient mortar began rolling away from the ship due to the strong current. He reached out and grabbed it, and now it sits in the Beaufort Maritime Museum. But divers won't always be there to grab relics in a storm.

"You know we're losing data every time, you know a storm comes up and uncovers a lot of this Fragile organic material that can just disappear in a matter of hours and so that is our major concern." says Moore.

The divers wont be back beneath the surface till next year. Until then, the Queen Ann's Revenge will wait with thousands of other wrecks sunken along the Carolina coast line, and weather the storms.