Speed Reads

lost and found at sea

Researchers discover submerged cemetery and hospital off the Florida coast

Archeologists have discovered a submerged island off the coast of Florida that contains the remains of a quarantine hospital and a cemetery, The Washington Post reports. 

Watercolor painting of hospital and cemetery.

Unsigned watercolor painting depicting a hospital and cemetery on an island in the Dry Tortugas

Image courtesy of National Park Service via AP

The site was located in the state's Dry Tortugas National Park, according to a press release from the National Park Service. Though just one grave was identified, "historical records indicate that dozens of people, mostly U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Jefferson, may have been buried there."

The island was first discovered by Joshua Marano, a maritime archaeologist with the National Park Service, when he noticed what appeared to be a series of dots in an L-formation under the water in Dry Tortugas. Years later, he dove to the area with a team of researchers and discovered the grave of a civilian named John Greer. And the dots, meanwhile, turned out to be "old building foundations that stood on a now-submerged island," the Post writes. "This intriguing find highlights the potential for untold stories in Dry Tortugas National Park, both above and below the water," Marano said in the press release.

Diver examining submerged tombstone

Diver examining submerged tombstone

C. Sproul/National Park Service via AP

Those buried in the cemetery were largely military members that served or were imprisoned at Fort Jefferson. There were also civilians like John Greer, who was discovered to have been a laborer at the fort. "We had no idea, like there was no inkling" about the existence of the grave, according to Devon Fogarty, an archaeology student on Marano's team. "We knew that there are cemeteries out there, that there are grave plots, but we didn't expect anything to be preserved."

Fogarty added: "We want to be able to establish that we can put the extra effort into remembering regular people."