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Next step for Weedon Island's prehistoric canoe

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On Sunday, May 4, a team from the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education (AWIARE) extracted all sections of an ancient Native American dugout canoe from a tank of preservative in which the canoe had been soaking for the past three years.

Carved from a single pine tree over 1,000 years ago, it is the only saltwater marine canoe found in Florida. At over 40 feet in length, it had to be cut into sections to be safely removed, transported and placed in the preservative tank.

The archaeological artifact, which has been carbon-dated to about A.D. 900 – A.D. 1000, will now air-dry for approximately six months and then be reassembled for public display at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2015.

Excavated in 2011 from the Tampa Bay shoreline of Pinellas County’s Weedon Island Preserve, the canoe was placed in a specially built tank holding a solution of polyethylene glycol , which is a wax-like substance that penetrates the wood to replace the areas of the canoe’s structure that were water-logged and will harden during the drying process, preventing the wood from cracking and deteriorating.

The nearly 3,200 acre Weedon Island Preserve has shown evidence of indigenous occupation dating back thousands of years and is state of Florida property managed by Pinellas County government.

AWIARE, a non-profit consortium of scientific and academic entities, in partnership with Pinellas County, has assumed oversight of archaeology operations at Weedon Island and is dedicated to promote and facilitate archaeological research, scientific exploration and public education focusing on the Weedon Island Preserve and adjacent Gulf Coast.

Weedon Island Preserve protects more than 3,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE in St. Petersburg. The preserve is operated under the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open to the public seven days a week, including holidays, from 7 a.m. to 15 minutes before sunset. Its many outdoor activities include walking trails, a fishing pier and a canoe/kayak launch.

To learn more about Weedon Island Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call (727) 453-6500 or visit Weedon Island Preserve online.