Shipwrecks as habitats in your national marine sanctuaries

October 2018

Shipwrecks tell stories of our nation's maritime past. But did you know they also serve as an important habitat for all sorts of marine creatures?


From the shores of North Carolina to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, your National Marine Sanctuary System protects hundreds of shipwrecks.

These shipwrecks tell the stories of our nation’s maritime heritage. They also serve as crucial habitats for marine life.

Shipwrecks serve as seafloor features, attracting a wide variety of marine life.

As different organisms colonize the ship, a stable community of diverse plants and animals emerges.

Plants and corals grow on the ship’s hard surfaces, while fish use the wreck as refuge from predators.

Shipwrecks in freshwater and oceanic environments differ in species composition, but they both may support aquatic life.

Many sites within the National Marine Sanctuary System have shipwrecks within their boundaries.

These sites help preserve our nation’s historic and biologically-important resources.