Thunder Bay
National Marine Sanctuary

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects a nationally significant collection of nearly 100 historic shipwrecks in Lake Huron off the Michigan coast. Through research, education, and community involvement, the sanctuary works to ensure future generations can enjoy these underwater treasures.

Thunder Bay International Film Festival

divers photographing a shipwreck

Join Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary as we take our annual film festival online! Produced in partnership with the International Ocean Film Festival, the Thunder Bay International Film Festival (TBIFF) is a virtual experience including online film screenings and Q&A sessions with filmmakers, scientists, and ocean and Great Lakes stewards.

Now in its 10th year, TBIFF is a festival of independent ocean and Great Lakes films from all over the world. Themes range from adventure and science to marine life and coastal cultures. Films are selected to not only entertain audiences but also inspire people to participate in environmental and stewardship efforts in our ocean and Great Lakes.

renderings of shipwrecks

Ocean Exploration in the Lakes: History of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Celebrate World Ocean Day in the Great Lakes! Ocean Exploration Trust is beginning the 2021 season in Michigan on Lake Huron for a 3-week expedition. Join us for a look back into the history of scientific exploration in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary including work with OET team members 20 years ago to discover some of the 80+ shipwrecks protected in this area. Bring your questions for a live conversation with Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray, Expedition Leader Dwight Coleman, Mission Support Katie Lohr, and Education Coordinator Sarah Waters to learn how Michigan gained a National Marine Sanctuary, why this region is important to protect, and the many ways you can get involved in this sanctuary and others near you!

a scan of the lake bed

Ocean Exploration in the Lakes — 2021 Expedition Update

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Did you know 95% of the Great Lakes are still unmapped in modern high resolution? Returning to the Great Lakes after a 2019 expedition, OET has teamed up with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northern Michigan for a lakebed mapping expedition using the research ASV BEN from the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire (CCOM UNH). Join TBNMS Research Coordinator Stephanie Gandulla, ASV Research Lead Val Schmidt, and Mapping Coordinator Erin Heffron to discuss how this 3-week deployment in the lakes helps advance exploration, develop new technology, and make important discoveries essential to preserving resources in the only freshwater national marine sanctuary in the United States. Lakebed mapping will cover areas never scientifically surveyed before and determine areas of interest for future ROV and scientific scuba dives!


Side view of a ship resting up right on the sea floor

The shipwrecks of Thunder Bay constitute a microcosm of the Great Lakes commercial shipping industry spanning the last two hundred years. The collection reflects transitions in ship architecture and construction, from wooden schooners to early steel-hulled steamers, as well as several unusual vessel types.

Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

A view of a crowd gathered near a river

The Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a non-profit organization whose mission is dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes and preserving their rich maritime history.

friends of thunder bay logo

Explore the Blue: 360° Shipwreck Alley

The silhouette of a diver swimming above a shipwreck

National marine sanctuaries protect more than just aquatic life. Places like Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, located in Lake Huron, safeguard our nation's maritime history. Join your dive buddies on a visit to D.M. Wilson, one of the hundreds of shipwrecks protected in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet!

Dive Into Thunder Bay

National Marine Sanctuary System

national marine Sanctuary system map

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.