Category Archives: Maritime Studies

Cool classes: 12 unique courses offered this fall

With classes starting up again this week, here’s a look at some of the coolest courses East Carolina University is offering this fall, with topics ranging from Atlantis to Italian geology. If you’re not a student, these classes will make you wish you were. If you are a student, you might just want to pick up one (or more) of the courses below.

ECU student Grace Ward listens to a lecture during a finance class in the SciTech Building on Jan. 25, 2018.

ECU student Grace Ward listens to a lecture during a finance class on Jan. 25, 2018. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

ANTH 1001: Aliens, Atlantis and Archaeology

Did aliens build the Egyptian pyramids? Does Atlantis really exist? Are mermaids real? This course critically examines some of the extraordinary theories concerning archaeological sites and artifacts. Students will learn how to assess claims about the past and gain appreciation of its many different reconstructions, though not all equally plausible.

MERCH 3003: Athleisure Wear

Leggings and Lycra aren’t just for the gym anymore. Activewear or athleisure – casual clothes that can be worn both for exercise and general use – has become a popular trend with global sales expected to top $350 billion in 2020. In this class, students will learn about the markets for athleisure and the merchandising strategies that have turned activewear into a lifestyle shift.

FINA 1904: Personal Finance

ECU’s wildly popular personal finance class combines practical money-saving tips and entertaining lessons to teach students how to be savvy spenders. Taught by Mark Weitzel and Len Rhodes, this class attracts 500 students per semester. Weitzel and Rhodes challenge students to save $100,000 collectively each semester by utilizing the tips they teach, a challenge the students have met for the past 10 years.

Len Rhodes co-teaches the personal finance class with Mark Weitzel. They engage students by making the subject fun and memorable.

Len Rhodes co-teaches the personal finance class with Mark Weitzel. They engage students by making the subject fun and memorable. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

GEOL 1500: Dynamic Earth

It’s one thing to study geology in your own backyard. It’s another thing entirely to study geology in the shadow of Italy’s volcano, Mt. Vesuvius. This course covers the same basics of geology covered in classes on ECU’s main campus, but adapted for ECU Tuscany, the university’s year-round study abroad program in Italy. Students take field trips to the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, where they get to see coastal processes take place on beaches and cliff sides, and to Pompeii, where they see the remnants of a city buried under volcanic ash. Rocks just got a whole lot more interesting.

Students taking GEOL 1500 study the Italian coastline as part of the ECU Tuscany program..

Students taking GEOL 1500 study the Italian coastline as part of the ECU Tuscany program. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

LING 2720: Invented Languages

In this course, students learn about invented languages such as Klingon and Elvish and are guided in creating their own invented language. The language will be built up incrementally over the course of the semester, starting with individual sounds and ending with brief conversations. Throughout the course, students learn about the features that human languages have and share. In other words, time to brush up on your Dothraki.

POLS 3037: Campaigns and Elections

Only offered during presidential and midterm election years, this course examines the key issues, questions and controversies that surround the study of campaigns and elections in the United States. The midterm elections in November will be enormously important –deciding whether Democrats can gain control of Congress or if Republicans will keep their hold on the legislative branch – giving students plenty to discuss.

HIST 6850 – Field Research in Maritime History

There’s something undeniably right about ECU Pirates working on various shipwreck sites. Past maritime studies students have explored shipwrecks in the Outer Banks, Bermuda and Saipan, uncovering artifacts and piecing together various mysteries at sea.

ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda.

ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photo contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda)

ENGL 2570: The Supernatural

Ever heard of the graveyard under Curry Court or the ghost of Cotten Hall? This folklore class explores supernatural narratives and campus lore. Students in the course organize a ghost walk on campus.

HIST 3635: Samurai History and Cinema

This course title (and coolness) is self-explanatory, but let us elaborate. Students study the samurai as a warrior elite in Japanese history and, most especially, film representations of the samurai and Japanese history. In addition to developing a critical perspective on claims about the samurai, the course provides a good introduction to the larger field of Japanese history from ancient times to the present.

HNRS 2013: Becoming Tomorrow’s Leader

Taught by former ECU chancellor Steve Ballard, this honors course is a practical guide to leadership that will teach students the skills to make a positive difference. Emphasis will be placed on understanding leadership’s joys, challenges and landmines as well as determining what kind of leader a student wishes to be. Students will learn vital lessons from great leaders and improve their own capacity to lead.

KINE 1010: Fitness Walking

New studies show there can be substantial health benefits to using a pet to be more active.

The Department of Kinesiology is ahead of the curve with its fitness walking class. For the past five years, it has partnered with the Pitt County Animal Shelter to have students walk shelter dogs for class credit. Cute dogs + exercise = win-win.

ECU freshmen Alexis Parker, left, and Kristen Lovick pet Duke as they relax on campus. Lovick and Parker exercise and play with dogs available for adoption at the local animal shelter..

ECU freshmen Alexis Parker, left, and Kristen Lovick pet Duke as they relax on campus. Lovick and Parker exercise and play with dogs available for adoption at the local animal shelter. (Photo by Rhett Butler)

COAS 2150 – Boating Skills and Seamanship

Small boat safety and seamanship skills are at the center of this class, where students can truly feel like pirates on the open seas. Landlubbers need not register, matey.

 

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

National Maritime History Society to honor ECU professor emeritus

Dr. Timothy J. Runyan, East Carolina University professor emeritus of maritime studies and Honors College faculty fellow, will be honored this fall by the National Maritime Historical Society. Runyan will receive the David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award at the New York Yacht Club on Oct. 25.

Dr. Timothy J. Runyan, pictured on the deck of the 1607 replica vessel Godspeed in Jamestown, Va, where he spoke at the launch of the vessel.

Dr. Timothy J. Runyan, pictured on the deck of the 1607 replica vessel Godspeed in Jamestown, Va, where he spoke at the launch of the vessel. (Contributed photos)

“I am very flattered; so very surprised to learn that I was selected for this prestigious award,” said Runyan.

The award honors Runyan’s years of dedicated service as a trustee for the National Maritime Historical Society and for his advocacy of maritime heritage preservation in the United States.

“Dr. Runyan is being recognized for his extraordinary leadership in building the strength and outreach of the society,” wrote Wendy Paggiotta, vice president of the NMHS.

As a trustee for the NMHS, Runyan serves as a member of the executive committee, chair of the advocacy committee and chairman of the editorial advisory board of Sea History magazine.

Since 2015, his advocacy with the U.S. Congress has resulted in nearly $10 million in federal funding for a grant program in maritime heritage. More than 100 organizations have received awards through the program, including a $200,000 grant to the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, a $46,000 grant to the Core Sound and Waterfowl Museum on Harker’s Island and a $144,500 grant, awarded in 2016, to ECU’s Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Laboratory.

Runyan aboard a sailboat in Annapolis, Md.

Runyan aboard a sailboat in Annapolis, Md.

“Every organization that has received a National Maritime Heritage Grant has Dr. Runyan to thank, as he spearheaded the effort to restore funding for the grants program in his role as chair of the National Maritime Alliance,” wrote Paggiotta.

During his 23-year career at ECU, Runyan served as director of the master’s program in Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology, later renamed the Program in Maritime Studies. He served as acting director, and later, director of the program, was a senior research associate to the vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, and a faculty member of the ECU Institute for Coastal Science and Policy.

Runyan received his doctorate from the University of Maryland and studied at the University of London. Additional faculty appointments included Cleveland State University and Oberlin College. From 2007 to 2011, he was invited to serve as acting manager of the Maritime Heritage Program at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries — the largest maritime heritage program in the federal government – before returning to ECU as a faculty member in the newly established Honors College.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

Task Force Dagger Foundation, ECU partner to provide rehabilitation diving for veterans

-News release by Department of Defense

Task Force Dagger Foundation working in partnership with East Carolina University is developing a program that seeks to provide rehabilitation opportunities for Special Operations veterans through the underwater archaeological study of WWII maritime heritage in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These grant funds will provide Task Force Dagger Foundation (TFD) with more opportunities to expand existing dive rehabilitative therapy programs which serve to provide retired Special Operations veterans with a new MISSION PURPOSE FOCUS.

TFD has teamed up with ECU’s program in maritime studies and the Florida Public Archaeology Network to develop and undertake a maritime heritage education program for wounded Special Forces veterans that will be hands-on and introduce veterans to the history of WWII and its underwater maritime heritage. The program will be held in the Mariana Islands on Saipan from late July to early August. It will cover classroom topics such as underwater archeology, artifacts, ship and aircraft construction, conservation, and heritage laws. After the classroom training, veterans will hit the water and practice their underwater archaeology skills by diving and recording WWII underwater heritage from the Battle of Saipan.

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises during a recent trip to Saipan, where ECU has partnered with Task Force Dagger Foundation to provide retired Special Operations veterans with dive rehabilitative therapy programs. (Contributed photo)

“This program reaches an audience that has an intimate knowledge and background on the subject of war, conflict, and materiel remains,” said Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, associate professor at ECU. “There is an assumed awareness and appreciation that only needs fostering to understand how this heritage is meaningful and needs to be protected.”

Keith David, managing director, said, “What is important about this event is that it demonstrates to these veterans that no matter how badly they are wounded or injured, they can have a productive and fulfilling life. It is all about having a MISSION – PURPOSE – FOCUS for their life.”

This project stands to be the first of its kind that engages wounded veterans in the recording, understanding and appreciation of WWII maritime heritage in the Pacific. The plan is to hold the educational program yearly with returning and new recruits to feed into a program of archaeologically-trained diving veterans.

Without your donations, we cannot achieve our mission supporting the U.S. Special Operations Command’s service members and their families.

The Task Force Dagger Foundation’s three core programs: (1) Immediate Needs, (2) SOF Health Initiatives and (3) Rehabilitative Therapy Events provide resources and healing for Special Operations Forces (SOF) members and families. Our SOF Health Initiatives provides program recipients care and treatment that is designed to treat the problem and not the symptom through functional medicine and other treatment modalities that are holistic in nature. Task Force Dagger Foundation supports Army Green Berets, Rangers, Civil Affairs, Military Information Support Operations, Army Special Mission Units, Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Tactics/Operations and Marine Special Operations and their families. These are some of the units that comprise the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Since 2009, we have supported USSOCOM with more than $3.5 million of support to 3,100 SOF service members and their families. The Task Force Dagger Foundation’s overhead rate is 10.91 percent.

 

-Contact: Task Force Dagger Foundation Office, 214-420-9290, info@taskforcedagger.org or http://www.taskforcedagger.org

Abroad in Saipan: Same field school, different perspectives

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students traveled to Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Emily DiBiase and Molly Trivelpiece, who detail some of the experience in personal accounts below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the fourth and final post from this trip. Read the firstsecond and third posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

As a first-year maritime studies student with very little dive experience, I came into this field school not knowing what to expect. I had previously participated in land-based archaeological projects during my time as an undergraduate, so I was thinking that it would be similar. I was definitely wrong.

I realized that underwater archaeology is a lot more equipment-intensive than doing the same activities on land, because we were snorkeling or diving instead of just walking around. This may sound self-explanatory, but I had never really considered how much more difficult it would be to move, write and record in the water. Many of us discovered areas where we could improve. The main one for me was using the program Illustrator, which we used to digitize the data that we collected. It takes all kinds of people to make a project go well and recognizing each person’s skills and shortcomings helps.

Students and staff visit the wreck site of a Japanese seaplane named "Emily."

Students and staff visit the wreck site of a Japanese seaplane named “Emily.” (Contributed photos)

Generally, I learned a lot during this field school experience, mostly about how to be a better diver. I came in having only done open water and the American Academy of Underwater Sciences diver classes. This trip allowed me to practice skills while figuring out things on my own, like how to arrange my extra gear so that I could access it easily underwater.

Finally, I learned a lot about the other people in my cohort, which is good because I’ll probably be interacting with them for a long time. I found out new things about each of them and realized that they are a solid group of people. I think we became a better team and figured out how to work with each other during this field school.

Overall, Saipan was a fantastic learning experience where I was given the opportunity to hone my skills as an archaeologist. The island itself was amazing, too  –  from the sites to the food. Though I’m probably not going to eat fish or rice for the rest of the summer.

 

-by Emily DiBiase, graduate student

 


Molly Trivelpiece, right, and Ryan Miranda prepare to dive.

Molly Trivelpiece, right, and Ryan Miranda prepare to dive.

Although Saipan offered new challenges and experiences, I’m no stranger to the maritime archaeology field. The last several summers I worked in Florida, becoming familiar with high temperatures and even higher humidity levels, but the warm clear waters in Saipan were something new to behold. Past experiences with diving had either been in cold or dark water, oftentimes both.

But the biggest hardship for me was to constantly remind myself that I was a student, not a supervisor. For the past three summers, I had been a senior supervisor for a field school that operated very similarly. While part of me reveled in just being a student again and not having the responsibility to plan out the days and monitor students, there were times when it became frustrating and several occasions where my supervisor mindset slipped out.

When dealing with frustrations, however, I had to keep in mind that this project objective was by far the most important aspect of any work I have been a part of. If we were successful in finding or identifying a site, we could be that much closer to bringing closure to the family of a lost WWII service member.

Overall, this was the smoothest field school I have worked on. I think that going into the project with people you have been in class with for the past year really worked in our favor. As a slightly smaller class with only 11 students, we already had a grasp on who worked well together and their strengths or weaknesses. There was also no personal drama, which tends to be a rarity in any field. I cannot wait to continue to learn and work with the rest of the maritime studies program students and see what exciting development comes next for us.

 

-by Molly Trivelpiece, graduate student

Maritime students go from surveying WWII sites underwater to local outreach

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Ryan Miranda, who details some of the experience in a personal account below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the third post from the trip. Read the first and second posts to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

Bird Island

Bird Island (Contributed photos)

As we fly on top of the crystal blue waters in the zodiac boat, multiple thoughts run through my head: the plan for the day, my job during the dives and what types of materials we are looking for. Scanning the horizon, I imagine how 74 years ago it would be filled with the huge metal masses of United States Navy ships.

Our field school has been underway for the past few weeks and it’s been an amazing experience. For me, the best way to learn the techniques and methods of the archaeological process has been being in the field or, in our case, on the water. We’ve dived, snorkeled and have become a lean, mean surveying machine.

As the field school progresses, our knowledge and execution of archaeological methods such as six-person snorkel surveys, side scan sonar lines or two-person dive circle searches has improved. We were even able to help conduct surveys with a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) that was provided and driven by one of our partners.

We also conducted public outreach about our research and the overall mission.

Several maritime students appeared on radio shows, the local news and classmate Joel Cook and I talked to several classes at Kagman High School on the island. Our camaraderie has grown as well. On the boats, we talk, joke and grow closer as a group.

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students. (Contributed photos)

Joel Cook and Ryan Miranda with Kagman High School students.

But while we have been working hard, we also have been taking time to explore Saipan and the massive amount of history here. We have walked into a Japanese bomb bunker, machine gun emplacements, visited Banzai and Suicide Cliffs and looked at the ancient paintings at Kalabera Cave.

Japanese Bomb Magazine where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

Japanese Bomb Magazine, where explosives were stored prior to and during the war

A special treat came on the final day of jumping targets when we finished early and were able to dive at some of the better-known sites on the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan. We were able to explore downed aircraft and shipwrecks and marvel at the amount of preservation. It reminded all of us why we chose this field of study.

As our work turns from being on the water to being behind a computer, we realize how much we have achieved and the area we have covered. Personally, I am amazed and surprised how much we have done.

Looking back, I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this field school and the overall mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. It allowed us to learn and improve our archaeological skill while serving a greater purpose.

We still may have more to learn but I look forward to the challenges and adventures that are on the way.

 

-by Ryan Miranda, graduate student

 

Read more: Same field school, different perspectives

Graduate students learning to become better archaeologists, divers on Saipan trip

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Aleck Tan, who shares below what they already have learned – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

This is the second post from the trip. Read the first post to learn more about the journey to Saipan and the importance of the trip.

Our Saipan field school has been underway for the past few days. Professors and graduate students in the East Carolina University Program in Maritime Studies have settled into a routine. At 7 a.m. each day we travel to our base in Smiling Cove Marina, and then it’s a short boat ride to our project sites in Tanapag Lagoon. We conduct surveys until 3 p.m. then come back to our hotel to de-salt ourselves and post-process data. 

While our ECU team looks like a well-oiled machine now, it took some trial and error to get there. On the first day of conducting a sonar survey, a wave overcame the 7-meter-long black rubber boat and flooded some of our not-so-waterproof computers. Thankfully, there were other computers available to replace the flooded ones. On my first day of conducting a metal detector survey at one of our project sites, my dive buddy and I forgot the necessary 30-meter measuring tape, but instead got a short 15-meter tape, so we had to return to the boat to get the appropriate length tape. Each mistake has taught us what not to do, what to do, and how to do it better.

This field school has been a great learning experience. In a classroom, one can learn all he or she can about how to conduct circle searches or run metal detector surveys, but it is another thing to actually do the work in the ocean where conditions are different. The current moves you away from survey lines, you might get scratched by coral, the sun might beat down harshly on already sunburnt skin, and you might constantly sweat through your shirt and smell like you haven’t washed it in three days. With every challenge, we have learned how to become better archaeologists and divers. Most importantly, the challenges and new experiences have taught us to go with the flow with a bright and shining positive mental attitude.

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

ECU graduate student Aleck Tan runs a metal detector over an object while Dr. Nathan Richards supervises. (Contributed photo)

At the end of the day, our team crowds into a makeshift conference room where we talk about our day and plan for the next day. In our meetings, we also talk about another important topic – where to eat dinner. Food has been one of the highlights of the trip as it reminds me of home.

While Saipan is a thousand miles away from my home in North Carolina, it feels like home for me. As a Filipino immigrant, I was born and raised in the Philippines, where afternoon showers, mangoes and water activities are common. Being geographically close to the Philippines, Saipan is similar in weather and even in culture as Saipan has a very close relationship with the Philippines. Since the 16th century, Filipino migrants have been traveling and bringing their culture and food to Saipan.

Being on an island similar to my birthplace has made the study abroad experience easier to adapt to but also more exciting. While work days are long and nights are filled with post-processing, a lot of duct tape, and discussions of people’s spirit animals, our team looks forward to exploring more of Tanapag Lagoon.

 

-by Aleck Tan, graduate student

 

Read more

Third post: Maritime students go from surveying WWII sites underwater to local outreach

Fourth post: Same field school, different perspectives

Graduate students’ work in Saipan could help with recovery of servicemen MIA after WWII

ECU maritime studies program professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon and several graduate students are in Saipan this summer to conduct archaeological surveys of surrounding waters to locate and document sites related to World War II. McKinnon and the students – including Jack “Gus” Adamson, who details some of the experience in a personal account below – hope their work will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen.

In the early morning hours of May 17, our team of archaeologists, dive safety officers and maritime graduate students gathered at Eller House on the edge of East Carolina University’s main campus. Our gear was checked and loaded and we departed for Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, just as the sun began to break over the horizon announcing a new day. Although a three-hour drive, this would be the first leg of a multiday journey that would take us, quite literally, to the far side of the world ending on the now little-known island of Saipan. Located approximately 1,500 miles south of Japan, Saipan is part of the Marianas Island chain.

In mid-1944, Saipan was the site of one of the most crucial battles of World War II. Its recapture from the Japanese, along with the islands of Guam and Tinian (also in the Marianas), placed Japan within range of newly developed B-29 Superfortress bombers, allowing for strategic bombing of the war industry on the Japanese mainland. Both sides understood the island’s strategic importance and fought bitterly for control of it. The ensuing battle, waged from June 15 to July 9, 1944, resulted in the deaths of approximately 30,000 Japanese and 3,255 Americans. Many of those American servicemen are still unaccounted for and labeled as missing in action (MIA), but they are by no means forgotten. It is that memory that is fueling ECU’s maritime studies summer field school.

As a maritime studies graduate student with aspirations of becoming a conflict archaeologist, this project is particularly exciting for me. Military history and battlefield archaeology have always been a deep passion, and the chance to do a project of this nature is truly once in a lifetime. Further, I have relatives who fought in the Pacific theater and I feel that this brings me much closer to understanding their experiences.

ECU’s maritime studies program is conducting side scan sonar surveys and using underwater metal detection during their field school. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s maritime studies program is conducting side scan sonar surveys and using underwater metal detection during their field school. (Contributed photo)

Partnered with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is assisting us in our travel arrangements and numerous other logistics of the project, ECU graduate students guided by our mentors will conduct archaeological surveys of the waters surrounding Saipan in order to locate, record and document sites related to the battle. Hopefully, this will lead to identifying possible sites containing the remains of missing servicemen. Our entire team is humbled and proud to be able to undertake this task that will not only reinforce the archaeological knowledge of this Pacific battlefield, but could also result in the return home of a soldier, sailor or Marine whose family hasn’t received closure after 74 years.

With the weight and pride of this task in our minds, we rolled into Oceana Naval Air Station primed and ready to begin our long journey, only to be told that we must undertake the most difficult of tasks: wait. Our aircraft was down for maintenance and would be unavailable for some time. Murphy’s Law is not the exception but the rule on field projects, and a contingency plan should always be ready. Instead of wasting time on social media or staring at the walls, our team made the short journey to a local museum where, as luck would have it, not only was there an air show of vintage airplanes occurring, but several World War II-era military aircraft were housed there. World War II buffs like me were giddy from being able to study the aircraft and components in person. As an added bonus, some of us were lucky enough to observe an engine test run of a B-25 Mitchell bomber, a rare treat that most can’t claim to have had.

The next leg of our journey finally began on May 19 with our departure for the West Coast before continuing on into the vast blue Pacific Ocean. There will surely be other surprises, but that is part of the adventure!

 

-by Jack “Gus” Adamson, graduate student

 

Read more

Second post: Graduate students learning to become better archaeologists, divers on Saipan trip

Third post: Maritime students go from surveying WWII sites underwater to local outreach

Fourth post: Same field school, different perspectives

Remains of a possible 1619 Dutch privateer identified in Bermuda

East Carolina University archaeologists working in partnership with the National Museum of Bermuda (NMB) have announced that they may be one step closer to linking an unidentified shipwreck site to the nearly 400–year-old story of a stranded Dutch privateer or pirate ship.

The wooden sailing ship, described by the fifth Bermuda Governor Nathaniel Butler as a Dutch pinnace traveling from the Caribbean, reportedly grounded on the rocks of Bermuda’s western reef in 1619. Islanders rescued the Dutch and English crew of down-on-their-luck buccaneers, and they were repatriated within a year; the ship itself was reportedly left to wind and weather, disappearing with the next Atlantic-borne storm.

ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students have mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photo credit National Museum of Bermuda)

ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students have mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photos contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda)

New archaeological evidence, however, suggests that Bermudians may have secretly lightered the cargo ashore and floated the ship off the reef, hiding it in a shallow bay to salvage arms, lumber and hardware — essential commodities for an isolated but burgeoning colony.

The wreck site may represent one of the earliest colonial-built, Dutch vessels discovered in the Americas, and the earliest and perhaps only fully archaeologically documented privateer/pirate vessel, according to Dr. Bradley Rodgers, ECU professor of maritime studies. Combined historical and archaeological studies will continue and could reveal new details about life in the 17th century, wrecking practices and the early settlement period in Bermuda.

In 2008, Rodgers examined a wreck located in a quiet harbor at the west end of the island, a short distance from the Dutch pinnace’s last known position on the reef. He recognized the wreck to be an early and significant vessel type. In May 2017, Rodgers returned with a team from ECU, and along with NMB, mounted the first scientific exploration of the site, archaeologically examining, mapping and recording the exposed sections of the wreck.

The remains are well known to locals, but their origins are not.

“The ship remains appear to be early and significant, and archaeological evidence demonstrates unmistakable traits of northern Dutch design, techniques that have not been used in four centuries,” Rodgers said.

It was not uncommon during the 17th century to salvage ships in the west end of Bermuda, he said, out of sight of customs officials in the east end, to avoid taxes or levies on the goods and materials retrieved. “Salvage marks are plentiful on the disarticulated wreck, and though many of the fasteners and planks have been removed, many of the timber remains are in great condition,” he said.

Students record timbers on the site of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photo contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda)

Students record timbers on the site of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda.

There is much work to do to complete the analysis of the shipwreck, according to Rodgers, as it takes “extensive archival research, archaeological analysis and funding to fully verify the find, and it is one of the more confusing wreck sites we have ever studied — it has been completely taken apart down to the fastenings.”

However, the team has documented enough of the site to identify ship construction techniques matching those described in Dutch treatises of the 17th century. In addition, the wood has been identified as greenheart (Ocotea reodiei), a New World timber historically harvested in Dutch trading territory in South America, and the few artifacts seen reflect Dutch northern European heritage from the early 17th century.

Further investigation should shed more light on life in 17th century Bermuda and its early settlement, especially pertaining to the salvage of ships in distress.

“The economics and impact of salvage in the early settlement of Bermuda has not yet fully been explored by academics and can provide a fascinating window into how the first Bermudians survived on an isolated island,” said Elena Strong, NMB executive director.

“Bermuda’s rich underwater cultural heritage, which is protected by law, is not only a valuable cultural tourism asset, but also comprises a tangible archive of the interaction of African, American and European cultures over five centuries,” she said. “Over the past 40 years, research on these wrecks has yielded considerable data informing historical narratives about the lives of the people who depended on these vessels to ferry goods and people to various ports along the Atlantic littoral.”

 

-Contact: Bradley Rodgers, professor of maritime studies, ECU, rodgersb@ecu.edu, and Elena Strong, executive director, National Museum of Bermuda, director@nmb.bm

ECU graduate student awarded fellowship for work with marine parasites

East Carolina graduate student Christopher Moore was selected as a 2018 North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Coastal Reserve Coastal Research Fellow, allowing the Winston-Salem native to fund his marine-life research.

Graduate student prepares crab condo

ECU graduate student Christopher Moore prepares a crab condo as Goose Creek State Park as part of his work with the Blakeslee Lab. Moore was named a 2018 North Carolina Sea Grant and N.C. Coastal Reserve Coastal Research Fellow, which will fund his research at the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The fellowship is designed to advance research that addresses coastal management issues at one of North Carolina’s 10 coastal and national estuarine research reserve sites. Moore’s research will be focused at the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort.

The project, titled “Parasites as Novel Indicators of Biodiversity in Restored Coastal Habitats,” will focus on the positive information parasites can relay to scientists in a coastal ecosystem.

“We don’t really think of parasites as beneficial, but actually they can be strong indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health,” Moore said.

The interdisciplinary doctoral student’s research will track the life cycle of certain parasites at the Rachel Carson Reserve and record the host animals that carry them.

“The way we think it works is that certain types of parasites require multiple hosts to complete their lifecycle,” Moore said. “For example, the Trematoda’s (a type of parasitic flatworm) larval form begins in a mussel or snail. Then, its next lifecycle stage takes place in a small fish or crustacean, like a mud crab or a blue crab. Sometimes the life cycle ends there and other times a late-stage is required, like a larger fish or a bird.

“What I’ve found in my work is that in degraded landscapes, or areas with a lot of development, those late-stage hosts will not be there, so those parasites will not be there,” he said. “As biologists, we can spend a lot of time looking for these late-stage hosts that can be elusive, but if you can find the parasites instead, which are a lot easier to collect and are often very host specific, then that can potentially be an easier way to learn more about an ecosystem and the diversity of organisms it contains.”

Moore said his project will involve capturing early-stage hosts to measure the success of different restoration techniques used by the Rachel Carson Reserve.

“I’m attempting to use parasites … to measure the success of different restoration techniques and how they restore biodiversity,” Moore said. “We won’t be setting up big trap nets to pick up all the fish that are moving through an area. Instead, we hope to sample the easily collectable organisms that serve as early-stage hosts of parasites – so the snails or small goby fish. Those are much easier to capture and collect.

“By looking at the parasites early-stage hosts contain, we can draw some conclusions about not only the health of the landscape, but potentially which restoration projects are working more efficiently.”

Moore looks for crabs on piece of wood

Moore looks for crabs on a piece of wood at Goose Creek State Park.

Moore believes his project could eventually save coastal researchers time and labor.

“I come from an environmental monitoring background,” Moore said. “It’s very time and labor intensive, as well as a stress financially, to collect this data. I’m hoping we can create a new method of scoring environmental health. In our field, we score environments using the Index of Biological Integrity (IBI). The idea of this scale is that certain organisms are weighted to different degrees in an ecosystem based on how they react to pollution. That tells us how healthy a body of water is.

“It would be interesting to develop a parasite-specific IBI from this research,” he said. “Some parasites are not host specific and can live anywhere – they would be rated relatively low on the scale. But some parasites are very host specific and require more sensitive late-stage hosts. They would receive a higher score. Potentially this work could go into developing that scale and offering an index that saves labor and financial costs in larger bodies of water.”

Moore said the fellowship will help fund his project by allowing him to construct “crab condos” which are used to catch first-host organisms. Additionally, he plans on hiring an undergraduate assistant to help process the project’s data.

Moore is a member of the Blakeslee Lab, led by Dr. April M.H. Blakeslee, ECU assistant professor of biology.

The Sea Grant and the Coastal Reserve anticipates awarding $10,000 to fund Moore’s work.

 

-by Matthew Smith, University Communications

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