Into the Depths & Back in Time

By Keith Flood

Keith C. Flood is a photographer and diver who has explored multiple national marine sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay, Greater Farallones, and Channel Islands. Most recently, he dove on several shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Stepping off the stern of the 28-foot dive boat, we begin our descent into Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Our destination on this first dive of a five-day trip is the shipwreck Typo.

My eyes strain to catch my first glimpse of the wreck as I descend face down like a free-falling sky diver. At 100 feet I make out a blurry brown object coming up at me surrounded by ink-blue water. I soon realize this is the still upright main mast. My descent continues until an enormous dark shadow stands out in the water and begins to reveal itself. I feel goosebumps all over, not from the icy cold 38-degree Lake Huron water but from the 137-foot long wreck of Typo as it comes into full view!

Typo sank after a collision with another ship on October 14, 1899. Four crew members were lost, and the ship now rests at a depth of 195 feet. It’s a challenging depth to dive, and we only have 17 minutes of precious bottom time. My dive buddies and I explore the length of the wreck, being careful not to come into contact with its fragile 100-plus-year-old water-logged wooden hull.

The ascent back to the surface takes another 40-minutes including decompression stops, time which we each spend reliving our step back into history.

Over the next several days, we made two dives a day to Typo, Kyle Spanger, Florida, Norman, and Cornelia B. Windiate. All were in the 170-foot to 210-foot depth range and represent just a handful of the thousands of wrecks in the Great Lakes. These crown jewels of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary all date back to the late 1800s. They are in especially pristine condition due to the icy cold-water depths and through the efforts of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to protect these nationally significant shipwrecks.

3 divers shine their light on a shipwreck
Divers explore the remains of the shipwreck Florida. Photo: Keith Flood
3 divers swim near a shipwreck resting on its side
Divers explore the shipwreck Norman. Photo: Keith Flood