Community engagement and creating high quality opportunities for volunteer involvement and training are very important to us at MSDS Marine. We have teamed up with the Nautical Archaeology Society to return to Sandwich Flats to continue our survey work on the intertidal wrecks between the 8th and 12th of October. Earlier in the year MSDS conducted a two-day heritage and ecological survey with volunteers from the local community, which focused on the remains of a B17 bomber, and three unidentified wooden wrecks in Pegwell Bay.
We focused on one of the wooden wrecks in particular, and found that it has closely-spaced timbers, wooden treenails with a small number of metal fastenings, inner, outer and sacrificial planking and the rudder surviving. The wreck appears to have beached bow-first. There are a number of possibilities for the identity of this wreck, many of which represent documented losses dating from around the mid-18th century onward. Together with the scattering of other wooden wrecks in the area it is possible that Sandwich Flats were used as a ship’s graveyard in the past.
Today these wrecks form important habitat for a wide range of species. Our ecological survey, led by our project-partners, Carcinus, found that in contrast to the surrounding sandy environment the wrecks, as areas of hard structure, formed artificial reefs which provided habitat for a diverse range of fauna and algae. We also found that the wooden wrecks were home to a much wider variety of species than the metal aircraft wreck.
These surveys gave us a tantalising glimpse into the heritage and ecology of the area, and many further questions about the sites. When we return we will create more detailed records of the sites using a range of survey methods, from traditional drawn survey to laser scanning to photogrammetry, and undertake historical research to identify the wrecks. We will also be further investigating the effect the wrecks have on their local environment, using drones alongside traditional survey methods, to better understand the relationship between heritage and ecology.
More information is available here.