Beach Beacon

Shipwreck mystery unfolds

Joe Mecko, a former diver, has shed new light on the source of shipwreck artifacts found at Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

By Wayne Ayers - Tampa Bay Newspapers

Claims by a local treasure hunter that there is a century-old shipwreck off our shores got a boost from a former diver in the area.

“I’ve seen that wreck,” said Joe Mecko, of Madeira Beach, after reading a story on the subject in the Beach Beacon.

The article told about Jim Leatherwood’s discovery of shipwreck artifacts while metal detecting on the beach in Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

Leatherwood said he believed his finds were the remains of an as-yet-undiscovered shipwreck not far offshore.

The story revived Mecko’s memory of a dive he made a few years back. He was searching for a friend’s boat that had gone down. Mecko, who was a charter boat captain at the time, said sunken boats often make ideal reef material that attract fish.

The fiberglass boat he was looking for was missing, except for its anchor.

“I followed the anchor rope,” Mecko said, “and at the end I saw metal spikes sticking out of the ground.”

The spikes were standing straight up in the sand, over a dark area, he recalled. There was no rock exposed, only sand. The location was about 10 to 15 miles offshore from Indian Rocks Beach, in about 40 to 60 feet of water.