Presented By Brendan Burke

During the early 20th century, a new type of boat was born in Northeast Florida. Forged from Greek, Italian, Norwegian, African-American, and native Floridian hands, the Florida-style trawler became one of the most important boats in the history of the state. From 1919 until the mid-1980s, Florida supplied the world with shrimp trawlers and commercial fishing boats of all types. Northeast Florida was alive with the buzz of saws and the banging of hammers and the enterprise grew into a multi-billion dollar industry that contributed to over 23 foreign fishing fleets. Ultimately, Florida would be responsible for the largest purpose-built wooden fishing fleet ever assembled. This presentation brings together stories, pictures, and the people from the halcyon days of catching shrimp and building boats in the Sunshine State.

Brendan Burke works for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum as a maritime archaeologist with the museum’s research wing, the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP). Since 2007 he has researched the commercial shrimping history of Florida and in 2013 co-authored Shrimp Boat City with Ed Long, a St. Augustine native. Considering the book the ‘beginning of a conversation’ rather than the culmination, Burke continues his work to gather stories and information about commercial shrimping and wooden boatbuilding throughout Florida. When he is not researching commercial fishing, Brendan may be found underwater or onboard the research vessel ROPER, diving and excavating a shipwreck from the American Revolution off St. Augustine’s beach. He holds a B.A. in history/anthropology from Longwood University and an MA in historical archaeology from The College of William and Mary.

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Brendan Burke