-Erosion at Santa Lucea Beach, Martin County , FL 11-11-22, JTLJust a few days ago, Hurricane Nicole whipped up the Atlantic Ocean and unearthed an ancient Ais Indian burial site at Chastain Beach on Hutchinson Island, near Bathtub Beach and Sailfish Point. Once again, we are reminded of history and those who lived here before us. I would hope, in time, these remains will be sacredly reinterred.
It is important to note that the local native people of Florida did not just live on Hutchinson Island, they utilized our entire coastal area of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. In fact, almost our entire coastal region is designated an “Archaeological Zone.”
-Below: map insert section of Martin County, Florida coast. “An Archaeological Survey of Martin County, Florida, 1995.” The shaded areas denote archaeological zones – areas the native people especially lived in and utilized. This includes Hutchinson Island, Sewall’s Point, parts of Rio, Jensen, Stuart, Palm City, Rocky Point, and Hobe Sound among others. This report was not just to map these areas but also to alert developers. What does this mean? It means that in 1995 the famous archaeologist, Robert Carr, and his team determined such, and this is documented in their publication written for Martin County Government. Ironically, I had just asked my mother for a copy for our study of Palm City so when the unearthing occurred I took note.
The publication provides the following designating these Archaeological Zones.
I am reminded to share an old blog post of mine about the Indian Mound, still visible, in Ft Pierce. Tuckahoe, in Jensen, is also an ancient Indian mound. Most of course were disrespectfully carted away to construct roads.
“The Ais were a tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the Atlantic Coast of Florida. They ranged from present day Cape Canaveral to the St. Lucie Inlet, in the present day counties of Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and northernmost Martin. They lived in villages and towns along the shores of the great lagoon called Rio de Ais by the Spanish, and now called the Indian River.” -House of Refuge exhibit
Not just after a hurricane, but every day, we should remember those who were here before us and how they lived- in tune and respecting Nature. The best place to learn about the Ais people is at the House of Refuge on Hutchinson Island near to where the recent artifacts and bones were unearthed.
-Riverview Drive, Sewall’s Point , FL 11-6-21. Since about 2012, the street I live on floods during King Tides. As a peninsular community between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, many areas of the town are prone to flooding. For instance, when I was a kid, we used to play in waist deep water from Sewall’s Point Road up to Banyan Road during such events as Hurricane David in 1976. Later the town raised North Sewall’s Point Road and the flooding situation improved. However, over the following decades, areas that were “dry” are now often filled with water.
Like the street I live on, fifty years later, Riverview…
On January 20th, 2020, Florida Oceanographic invited John Englander to speak at the the Blake Library in Martin County. In his book High Tide on Main Street, he writes ” Rising sea level will be the single most profound geologic change in recorded human history.”
Whether you believe this or not, Florida believes it. Whether it’s places like Monroe County that has been “underwater” for years, or places like Martin County that are only recently experience King Tide and heavy-rain flooding, RESILIENCY is the name of the game.
Today, I share some links to some of our local and state resiliency programs. If you just pursue them, you will be impressed. Even the Army Corps of Engineers is building resiliency through a program trademarked Engineering With Nature. I think this is the key, incorporating nature, not just building against it. I think we’ve figured by now, without Nature on our side, we will never win. ~Does your street flood? What do you think about the rising popularity of Resiliency?
Resiliency Programs Martin County/State of Florida
Bathtub Beach has become a preoccupation this week, and its story “teaches us.” I asked my historian mother if she had any historic photos. Of course, she did, along with insights of this special place in Martin County.
The first thing she said was, “I have been fascinated with the giant black mangroves that used to appear when the Bathtub’s sands eroded. I have a bunch of these photos…”
In my childhood days, this sometimes appearing ancient forest was a conundrum, then a lesson, that things are ever-changing, and barrier islands really are moving. “How could there have been a forest there?” I’d ask my mother, “It’s in the sea?”
This part of Hutchinson Island was developed early on as “Seminole Shores” and there is one photo below that clearly shows the water washing out over the road way back then in the 50s (sepia colored aerial.) Interesting.
From the aerials, one can see how developer, James Rand added the marina we know today as part of Sailfish Point. This type of construction was later outlawed in the 70s due to its serious environmental ramifications. Many of our older area marinas were built this way.
Some may remember famous “Rand’s Pier” that withstood the ocean’s occasional violence for many years. It was still there in the photos towards the end of this blog post that I took in 2007. It has since washed away…
The circular, unusual, worm-reef, giving Bathtub Beach its name, is most beautiful. Although people are not supposed to walk on it, they do; and today’s constant/desperate re-nourishment sands washing back into the ocean must certainly have a negative effect.
As a kid I swam over the reef at high tide catching tropical fish with a net my mother made by hand. Once a moray eel put its face on my mask and I learned not to put my hand in a hole!
Look at photos closely and you will notice many details.
In the first photo, you will see there is no Wentworth house falling into the ocean, and then it appears; the ancient forest foreshadowing its fate.
The final aerial is recently dated and from a tourist website, shared by my life-time friend Amy Galante. This photo packages Bathtub Beach as we all envision it. Airbrushed. Restored. Never changing. And “perfect.”
Fortunately, or unfortunately, perfection takes constant change.