“The Florida Department of State takes our responsibility for the preservation, respectful treatment and security of this rare and unique site very seriously,” said Detzner. “Our dedicated team of underwater archaeologists has done an incredible job of documenting and researching the Manasota Key Offshore archaeological site, and I am extremely proud of the work. Our hope is that this discovery leads to more knowledge and a greater understanding of Florida’s early peoples. We are thankful for the cooperation of our partners, including Gulf Coast Community Foundation and their CEO, Mark Pritchett, who has provided invaluable support and integration with the local community.”
The Manasota Key Offshore site is reportedly unprecedented and located on the continental shelf in offshore waters, preserved in what appears to have been a peat-bottomed, freshwater pond thousands of years ago.
The state said out of respect for the individuals buried there and their living descendants, divers are restricted from disturbing the site.
Officials say the MKO archaeological site demonstrates that submerged offshore sites have survived natural occurrences, such as erosion and hurricanes.
Dr. Ryan Duggins, Underwater Archaeology Supervisor for BAR, said, "Seeing a 7,000-year-old site that is so well preserved in the Gulf of Mexico is awe inspiring. We are truly humbled by this experience. It is important to remember that this is a burial site and must be treated with the utmost respect. We now know that this type of site exists on the continental shelf. This will forever change the way we approach offshore archaeology. As we continue to learn as much as possible from the site, we look forward to sharing that knowledge with the people of Florida."