diver examining the wreck of the van valkenburg

Thunder Bay's shipwrecks are magnificent, yet vulnerable. Through research, education, and community involvement, the sanctuary works to protect our nation's historic shipwrecks. Initiatives such as the sanctuary's mooring buoy program help preserve these unique archeological, historical and recreational sites for future generations.

State and federal laws protect sanctuary resources. The sanctuary partners with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to enforce these laws.  Partner law enforcement agencies such as the Michigan State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard also help with regulation monitoring efforts in sanctuary waters. See the EGLE Shipwreck Frequently Asked Questions website page for more information.

Equally importantly, the sanctuary relies on the responsible practices of visitors. Whether you enjoy the waters of the sanctuary through diving, snorkeling, paddling, fishing, or boating, please always respect the sanctuary's shipwrecks. Join your fellow visitors in preserving our maritime heritage for future generations. Removing artifacts or damaging shipwrecks is illegal. Please report looting at 1-800-292-7800.

If you are unsure if your proposed activity is allowed in a national marine sanctuary and/or you would like to read more about sanctuary regulations please see the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries website regulations page

Questions about permits? Consult Michigan EGLE's frequently asked questions.

Detailed information on the application process for a permit is also contained in the official version of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary federal regulations.