A diver taking notes on the USS Tarpon wreck

David Witting of NOAA’s Restoration Center documents the wreck of the USS Tarpon. Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA

Documenting the Graveyard of the Atlantic

The ocean off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks is often referred to as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. These waters have entombed thousands of vessels and countless mariners who lost a desperate struggle against the forces of war, piracy, and nature. In recent years, researchers from Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and their partners have been documenting vessels that sank in this area during World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic. Their work has been raising awareness that this area is the best representation of a World War II naval battlefield off the United States East Coast. Many of these wrecks, like the submarine USS Tarpon, are popular dive sites. Each wreck site holds an important piece of our maritime past, and through documentation, NOAA’s maritime archaeologists are discovering their stories.