Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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Sanctuary Offices & Visitor Center Closed to the Public

For the health and safety of our guests, volunteers, and employees, and as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the offices and visitor center will be closed to the public until further notice. We will continue to reassess the situation. We understand this closure is an inconvenience for visitors, and we apologize. Our top priority is the health of our guests who come to learn about Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and the National Marine Sanctuary System, as well as the staff and volunteers who support our visitor center. If you have further questions about the closure and TBNMS, please call 989-884-6200


Protecting the Great Lakes and their rich maritime history through research, education and resource protection. The sanctuary works to ensure that future generations can enjoy these underwater treasures.

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Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

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Sanctuary Spotlight 

Two historic Great Lakes shipwrecks discovered in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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Superintendent’s  Statement, September 1, 2017

NOAA is excited to announce the discovery of two historic shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Resting in deep water, the shipwrecks are located in Lake Huron off Presque Isle, Michigan. Sanctuary archaeologists identified the two shipwrecks as the wooden steamer Ohio (1873-1894)and steel-hulled steamer Choctaw (1892-1915).

In May 2017, a sanctuary-led expedition used high resolution sonars to map the bottom of Lake Huron, during which they located the lost ships.  At the time, the researchers were confident they had discovered the 202-foot Ohio and the 266-foot Choctaw.  The team recently confirmed the sites’ identities using underwater robots to collect photos and video of the shipwrecks.

Archaeologists are planning future expeditions to better understand, manage, and interpret Ohio and Choctaw. The sanctuary plans to develop public interpretation using video, photographs, archaeological maps, exhibits, and digital models of the shipwrecks to better enable divers and non-divers to access and explore these historic treasures. Preserved by Lake Huron’s cold, freshwater, the shipwrecks will be nominated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information about Ohio and Choctaw (including video and images) and more details about the expedition, please visit our web story, History Meets Technology*.

Funded by a grant from NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the project was made possible through research partnerships with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, University of Delaware, Michigan Technological University, Northwest Michigan College, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The 4,300 square-mile Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects the Great Lakes and their rich history. Lake Huron’s cold, fresh water preserves nearly 200 historic shipwrecks in and around the sanctuary. Through research, education, and community involvement, the sanctuary and its partners ensure that future generations can enjoy Thunder Bay’s irreplaceable underwater treasures.

--Jeff Gray, Superintendent, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

For questions about the discoveries and media-quality images and video, please contact Sanctuary Media Coordinator Stephanie Gandulla at or 989-884-6212.


Type: steel semi-whaleback

Launched: 1892 by Cleveland Ship Building Company, Ohio

Length: 267 feet

Beam: 38 feet

Gross Tonnage: 1,574

Cargo: coal

Wrecked: July 12, 1915


Type: wooden bulk freighter

Launched: 1873 by John F. Squires, Huron, Ohio  

Length: 202 feet

Beam: 35 feet

Gross Tonnage: 1,101

Cargo: grain

Wrecked: September 26, 1894



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wreck coordinates Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center