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Student with argo crabAmerica's greatest museum of our past as a seafaring nation lies on the bottom of the sea and lakes in the National Marine Sanctuaries. Prehistoric sites, shipwrecks, and naval battlefields are protected by sanctuaries. They are places to explore, discover and appreciate our country's maritime cultural heritage. That heritage is a legacy of thousands of years of settlement, exploration, immigration, harvesting the bounty of the seas, and creating coastal communities and maritime traditions. Through the study, protection and promotion of this diverse legacy, sanctuaries help Americans learn more about our past. Click here to learn more!

Graveyard of the Atlantic Report Published

cover of the reportNorth Carolina's shoreline from Currituck Sound to Cape Fear is a dramatic marine setting influenced by dynamic environmental change. With barrier islands that stretch along hundreds of miles of coastline, from 20 to 40 miles offshore, these islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. This report is an initial review of the complex, dynamic and fascinating maritime cultural landscape of the "Graveyard of the Atlantic."

Underwater Cultural Heritage Law Study

cover of the reportThe protection and management of Underwater Cultural Heritage is a challenging topic, as it involves the interplay of U.S. statutes, maritime law, international law, and often complex issues regarding what law applies when and against whom it may be enforced. The Underwater Cultural Heritage Law Study is generated by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and NOAA to provide an analysis of existing laws protecting Underwater Cultural Heritage on the U.S. outer continental shelf, identify gaps and recommend legislative changes to address any gaps.

The Search For Planter
The Ship that Escaped Charleston and Carried Robert Smalls to Destiny

planter report When ordinary men and women step forward and do extraordinary things, the story of the human race takes a quantum leap forward. In 1862 Robert Smalls was a slave assigned to steer the CSS Planter, an armed Confederate military transport. One night after Planter's white officers decided to spend the night ashore, Smalls commandeered the vessel with a hardy band of ordinary men, women and children; their escape voyage freed themselves and helped free their nation from the bondage of slavery.

Two Brothers

Two Brothers Whaling ship captain George Pollard, was either the luckiest or unluckiest captain in the U.S. whaling fleet depending on one's perspective. He endured a brutal ordeal of having his first ship Essex sunk by a whale (the inspiration for Moby Dick) and survived in a lifeboat at sea by cannabalising dead crewmen. Just three years later, he once again lost a ship under his command, the Two Brothers, when he ran aground on French Frigate Shoals in the mid-Pacific and which is today's Papahanoumokuakea Marine National Monument. Read here about Pollard's second rescue and the exciting rediscovery of Two Brothers and what it means to our understanding of the importance of the Pacific whaling industry to the United States economic growth as an emerging 19th century maritime power.

Battle of the Atlantic

Battle of the Atlantic 2010 saw archaeologists from NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and Maritime Heritage Program complete their third phase of a multi-year expedition to document the historic shipwrecks from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic in the waters off of North Carolina. Read here how NOAA and its partners are recording some of the last vestiges of WWII that were brought up to the U.S. mainland in one of the nation's darkest hours.

In Search of the Lost Whaling Fleets

Lost Whaling Fleet During the latter half of the 19th and into the 20th centuries, whaling fleets from a variety of nations concentrated their efforts far to the North, among the bergs and ice pack of Alaska's north slope. This was one of the last refuges of the oil-rich Bowhead whale. The harsh extremes found in the Arctic made the hunt particularly hazardous, and on two occasions, 1871 and 1876, whole fleets were trapped by the ice and crushed. Read their story here.

pdf iconFathoming Our Past, the Historical Contexts of the National Marine Sanctuaries ( 9.7MB)

Click here to view all Maritime Heritage Expeditions.


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Revised February 12, 2015 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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