Researchers use drone to search for sunken ships off Wormsloe

Georgia Southern Professor invites team from University of Miami & drone to help uncover history
UM Researchers and their drone
UM Researchers and their drone(Sam Bauman WTOC)
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 3:05 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - There’s a certain buzz around the Wormsloe Historic Site this week.

That buzz, coming from this larger than average drone called a “hexicopter.”

But what makes this drone special isn’t its size, or six propellers, but actually what it’s towing.

“Since the 50′s and 60′s this kind of device called a magnetometer has been used,” said underwater archaeologist Ryan Fochs, with the University of Miami.

Putting it simply a magnetometer maps Earth’s magnetic fields looking for abnormalities which could be, “possible artifacts, man-made objects, something that has a slightly different magnetic field to it than the surrounding environment,” said Fochs.

Typically, these magnetometers are either towed in the water behind a boat or even carried on land.

But due to Wormsloe’s surrounding environment, “marsh and grass and water. It’s very difficult to do a traditional survey,” said Assistant Professor of History Dr. Kurt Knoerl

Dr. Knoerl invited the team from the University of Miami and their drone here in hopes of finding two boats.

“They put cannon in the bow of these boats, and they wanted them to scout out this area and around the sea islands to keep a lookout for the Spanish, so they didn’t come up and attack the city,” said Dr. Knoerl.

While he is hopeful they will find the boats, or at least some piece of human history, the work they’re doing this week will set the tone for research to come.

“There’s only going to be more and more exploration in our own watery backyard over the next couple years. This is just the start,” said Dr. Knoerl.

Plus on a personal note, “it’s just cool on every level. For a nerdy archaeologist it’s cool in every way.”

The research team will be out at Wormsloe until Saturday.

They also want to remind you that putting a drone up in this area is illegal without getting the proper permitting first.

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