Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Alongside the E/V Nautilus expedition season, Ocean Exploration Trust is collaborating on an expedition to explore inland waterways of the Great Lakes. This mission is focused on mapping unexplored, newly expanded areas of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) in Lake Huron, with a goal of discovering new shipwrecks and identifying shipwreck locations to support ongoing exploration and management. Target areas will be mapped with a multibeam sonar system aboard autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) BEN from University of New Hampshire’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, with the TBNMS Research Vessel R/V Storm serving as the operations platform for mapping and surveying activities.
Three targeted survey areas in northern Lake Huron embody the diverse and rich maritime cultural landscape of the Great Lakes, including a historic lighthouse on a treacherous reef; dangerous, near-shore shallow waters; and the deep, mid-lake waters of busy shipping lanes known as “Shipwreck Alley.” In addition to the potential discovery of historically significant shipwrecks, sanctuary waters in Lake Huron also hold the potential for unique natural features such as sinkholes with links to ancient ecosystems, glacial features of interest, and important fish habitat.
Sponsored by: NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries