Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary










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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.

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.

Superintendent’s  Statement, September 1, 2017

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

NOAA maritime archaeologists and partners have located and identified two previously undiscovered historic shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The shipwrecks are the wooden steamer Ohio (1873-1894) and the 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 two ships.  At the time, researchers were confident they had discovered the 202-foot Ohio and the 266-foot Choctaw.  The team recently confirmed the vessels’ identities using underwater robots to collect photos and video of the shipwrecks.

The sanctuary is planning future expeditions to better understand, manage and interpret Ohio and Choctaw. Sanctuary staff also plan to develop exhibits and public outreach materials to enable divers and the public to access and learn more about these shipwrecks. Preserved by Lake Huron’s cold, freshwater, the shipwrecks will be nominated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.

For additional information about Ohio and Choctaw (including video and images) and more details about the expedition, please see Pushing the Boundaries: Technology-driven Exploration of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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

For more information, including media-quality images and video, please contact Sanctuary Media Coordinator Stephanie Gandulla at steph.gandulla@noaa.gov or 989-464-1297.

 

 

Choctaw

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

Ohio

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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