Hurricane Nicole unearths suspected Native American burial site in Florida

Hurricane Nicole may have unearthed a Native American burial site hundreds of years old on a Florida beach, authorities said.

Six skulls and other smaller bones were discovered on Chastain Beach on South Hutchinson Island, Martin County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.

Beachgoers found the remains, Budensiek said.

“Our medical examiner’s office says they believe the bones are over 200 years old,” he said, adding that investigators believe they may be the remains of Aboriginal people.

Native American bones were discovered in the area after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

“We believe, based on other discoveries over the years in this area, that this is likely an ancient Indiana burial site,” he said. “When dealing with remains like this, we try to preserve the history. We do not explore or dig deeper into the area where the remains were found. We have only recovered what has been exposed by water.

Budensiek said he had been in contact with the Seminole Nation of Florida about the find. If the site is a Native American burial site, it is federally protected and criminal charges will be brought against anyone who tries to disturb the area, Budensiek said.

No one at the county medical examiner’s office could be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Beach erosion at Chastain Beach on South Hutchinson Island, Florida (Martin County Sheriff’s Office via facebook)

Hurricane Nicole makes landfall on Florida’s Atlantic coast early Thursday near where the remains were found.

The storm landed just south of Vero Beach around 3 a.m. ET on the east coast of the Florida peninsula on North Hutchinson Island with sustained winds estimated at 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com