Friday, August 17, 2018
News Roundup

Diver discovers 7,000 year-old underwater graveyard off Florida coast

An amateur diver came across human remains while exploring waters off the Florida coast near Venice in 2016.

Turns out, those remains are from a Native American underwater graveyard that is more than 7,000 years old.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Wednesday announced the findings at the Manasota Key offshore site, calling them "unprecedented" and a major boon for understanding the state’s ancient civilizations.

"The Florida Department of State takes our responsibility for the preservation, respectful treatment and security of this rare and unique site very seriously," Detzner said in a statement.

"Our dedicated team of underwater archaeologists has done an incredible job of documenting and researching the Manasota Key Offshore archaeological site, and I am extremely proud of the work.

"Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early peoples."

The amateur diver first discovered the human remains in what eventually became the excavation site in the waters of Manasota Key in June 2016. The diver then reported the findings to the Bureau of Archaeological Research and the State Department’s Division of Historical Resources.

The site is on the continental shelf in offshore waters, where the human remains appeared to have been "preserved in a peat-bottomed freshwater pond," according to the release.

A team of underwater archaeologists determined the site covers just under an acre along the Florida shoreline near Venice.

There were multiple places at the site that contained peat and wooden stakes. The stakes were used in burial practices, and radiocarbon dating found that two stakes were more than 7,200 years old — from a time referred to as the Archaic Period, according to the state.

The water level at the time was about 30 feet lower than it is today in the Gulf of Mexico. As sea levels rose, 21 feet of water covered the pond. The pond would have sat on dry land roughly 9 feet above sea level at that time.

The peat was the key to preserving the human remains, according to the DOS, as it slows organic decay.

Division of Historical Resources director Timothy Parsons said it is crucial that the remains are treated delicately.

"As important as the site is archaeologically, it is crucial that the site and the people buried there are treated with the utmost sensitivity and respect," Parsons said in a statement. "The people buried at the site are the ancestors of America’s living indigenous people. Sites like this have cultural and religious significance in the present day."

Researchers are also working closely with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure that the remains are cared for while a preservation plan is formulated. Scientists eventually plan to use the collected data to recreate the prehistoric environment.

The site will be monitored by law enforcement to guard against anyone seeking to remove artifacts. Under Florida law, it is a first-degree misdemeanor to take artifacts from an archeological site without authorization and it’s a third-degree felony to knowingly disturb, destroy, remove, vandalize, or damage an unmarked human burial place.

Contact Donovan Harrell at


Preseason football: Gaither 7, Jesuit 4

TAMPA — Last season, Gaither and Jesuit met in the preseason and the results were not pretty as the Tigers dominated 41-7.Friday’s edition proved to be much different as Gaither held on to win a 7-4 slugfest.Both defenses set the tone in a first half...
Updated: 6 minutes ago

Preseason football: Sunlake 22, Lakewood 20 (one half)

ST. PETERSBURG — Following two lengthy lightning delays, Sunlake used two blocked punts and several key defensive stops to knock off Lakewood in an abbreviated preseason game, 22-20.Matt Paduani led the way for the Seahawks, notching two touchdown ca...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Preseason football: Alonso 7, Countryside 6

TAMPA — The end result was a one-point decision — a 7-6 victory for Alonso over Countryside on Friday in a preseason game.First-year coach Ron Perisee preferred to dig deeper into his Ravens’ performance than the final score."I am just proud of the f...
Updated: 28 minutes ago

Preseason football: Land O’Lakes 26, Wesley Chapel 0

LAND O’LAKES — From the very first play Friday night, Land O’Lakes asserted its presence over Wesley Chapel in preseason action.A botched snap, recovered by the Gators, set up a 27-yard flea-flicker touchdown from quarterback Ethan Forrester to Jacob...
Updated: 28 minutes ago

Preseason football: St. Petersburg 10, Northeast 0

ST. PETERSBURG — Tonio Shavers rushed for a short touchdown as the St. Petersburg defeated Northeast, 10-0, in a shortened preseason game Friday.Lightning caused an hour-long delay at the end of the first quarter and when the teams returned they deci...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Preseason football: River Ridge 44, Pasco 24

NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge rode the arms of quarterbacks Kyle St. John and Travis Hawks on Friday night en route to a 44-24 preseason win over Pasco."(St. John and Hawks) both played really well tonight," River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin said. "The...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: A 3-0 first-inning lead turns into a loss to powerful Red Sox

Rays journal: A 3-0 first-inning lead turns into a loss to powerful Red Sox

BOSTON — Scoring three runs in the top of the first inning is typically a good start toward a victory.But not so much at cozy Fenway Park.And definitely not against these red-hot Red Sox.Facing their AL East rivals for the first time since late...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Preseason football: Plant 25, Venice 25

VENICE — Plant coach Robert Weiner stressed to his team the importance of creating turnovers in preparation for Friday’s anticipated showdown with Class 7A defending state champion Venice. Weiner even devoted one day of practice this week to focus on...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Friday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Friday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Manager Kevin Cash has talked up RHP Ryne Stanek as an MVP of the opener experiment, given how well he has handled the transition to pitching the first inning. On Friday, not so much. Stanek said he didn't think relieving Thursday had an impact.OF Ma...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Preseason football: Zephyrhills 13, Mitchell 9 (three quarters)

LAND O’LAKES — It would have been easy for Zephryhills coach Nick Carroll and Mitchell coach Andy Schmitz to read the riot act to their teams after Friday night’s preseason game. Instead, their messages were the same: Forget about it and move on.For ...
Updated: 1 hour ago