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The skeletal remains of a shipwreck have been unearthed by the shifting tides of an island in the US.

The “really old” ship was discovered by 39-year-old Matthew Palka, who found it during an early morning bike ride on the tiny, isolated island of Nantucket, off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The landscaper stopped for a breather and saw the wooden ribs of the ship exposed by beach erosion.

Ships in the area were often wrecked by fierce storms

(Matthew Palka/Twitter)

He told the Boston Globe: “I knew it was something big, like it was really old.

“The beams were real consistent with the beams we’ve seen at some of the real old houses. It was crazy.”

Mr Palka added that the ship was not there two weeks ago when the spot was just white sandy beach.

Officials from the Egan Maritime Institute, a nonprofit that owns and operates the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, are working with the town and the state’s Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources to research its history and what led it to its fate.

“Moving forward, we are committed to working with the proper officials to determine the best next steps,” said Evan Schwanfelder, director of education at Egan Maritime. “We would like to take a sample of the wood to carbon date it so that we are able to get a better idea of the age of the wood and start researching the window of time for when it was built.”

“It is not unusual for wrecks to surface” after storms but nothing of this size has been seen on Nantucket in many years,” he added.

On Nantucket Island, erosion is typically the reason that shipwrecks surface out of the sand, according to Egan Maritime’s website. Ships that wrecked around Nantucket were usually victims of New England’s powerful winter storms.

As a consequence, it is rare that a good-sized hull would remain intact after the wreck. Almost all the shipwrecks around the island were fishing boats or coastal schooners carrying mail, timber, coal, or live pigs.

“As an organisation, we are excited by the possibility of uncovering the truth behind this wreck,” said Carlisle Jensen, executive director of Egan Maritime.

“Our museum staff estimate there are about 750 recorded shipwrecks off the coast of Nantucket alone. Within our collection and through other island historical organisations, we have access to primary source records on many of the shipwrecks and hope to start researching the wreck soon.”

He added that erosion is a major problem for Nantucket Island, a small island 30 miles out to sea.

“Erosion is something we see every day, particularly in the winter,” he told the Independent. “It is not unusual for winter storms to blow through and disrupt our coastlines.”

The organisation is asking residents to steer clear of the wreck and not disturb it.

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