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How Did Wrecking Begin?

December 18th, 2013 by Piper Smith

As soon as Europeans began to visit the New World, ships began to wreck along the Florida Reef. Since many ships would use the Gulf Stream to sail from Havana, many wrecks would occur because the Gulf Stream is located near the Florida Reef. Some of the first wrecks in the Keys specifically began when Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda’s ship wrecked in 1549. So the first New World wreckers were actually Native Americans! As a result of the major shipping traffic, they were skilled plunders and actually took Fontaneda as a captive.

A depiction of Native Americans confronting the crew of a wrecked ship in the Florida Keys.

A depiction of Native Americans confronting the crew of a wrecked ship in the Florida Keys.

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