Investigators from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch came to Corolla, N.C., to document the estimated 400-year-old wreck before it disappears, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday.
The wreck has already drifted two miles since storms uncovered it in December.
"It wants to go south," Branch curator Nathan Henry said.
During its movement floorboards and the keel of the 70-foot ship have come loose and disappeared, and the wreck is in danger of completely falling apart, the Virginian-Pilot said.
Some local residents, including the avid beachcomber who first discovered the wreck, want it raised from the sands and preserved.
"It's going to go to pieces," Ray Midgett said. "I would love to see them save it."
Experts estimate the wreck is even older than the famous remains of Blackbeard's ship the Queen Anne's Revenge, which sank in 1718 near Beaufort, N.C.