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Defending America's Shores: The Battle of the Atlantic Expedition
tn early 1942, America was under siege as U-boats struck Germany's first blows against America in World War II. They waged a bloody war in the seas off Cape Hatteras, N.C., attacking 285 vessels while losing only seven U-boats. The United States prevailed, however, and drove the Germans away. Unlike a battlefield on land, the warriors of 1942 still lie where they fell. It is as significant a battlefield to honor, study and preserve as Gettysburg, or Pearl Harbor.

Led by staff from Monitor National Marine Sanctuary with support from federal, state and academic partners, a team of experts in marine archaeology and technical diving successfully surveyed the wrecks of 10 World War II merchant vessels during the 2010 season of the Battle of the Atlantic project. These wrecks are important, not just to the families of their lost crew and the survivors who served on those vessels, but also to the thriving recreational diving community that is working with NOAA to ensure this sunken battlefield is documented and protected for future generations as a place to visit and to learn.

Sanctuary scientists and their partners work to understand and predict natural and human-caused changes throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System. From environmental monitoring to ocean science education to development of partnerships that enhance the system's research capacity, science and exploration are essential to the effective management of our special underwater places.

Sanctuary Staff Help Map world-Famous Titanic Wreck

volunteersThe Titanic is the most famous shipwreck of the 20th century. In 1986, Congress tasked NOAA with working with public and private partners to help manage and protect the wreck. Last year, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Waitt Institute for Discovery, the National Park Service, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and RMS Titanic, Inc. to use revolutionary acoustic imaging, sonar technologies and high-resolution optical imaging to map 25 nautical miles of seabed with pinpoint accuracy and create detailed three-dimensional maps and footage of the Titanic's bow and stern. The new director of the national marine sanctuaries' Maritime Heritage Program, Dr. James Delgado, served as principal investigator on the mission, and was joined by Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent David Alberg. Discussions about the future of the Titanic as a possible marine protected area and memorial are ongoing.

Whaling Shipwreck Two Brothers Identified at Papahānaumokuākea

A collaborative team conducted 25 days of surveys on five islands and atolls during the Explorations 2010 research cruise to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Focusing their efforts on documenting a previously unidentified whaling shipwreck site discovered at French Frigate Shoals in 2008, archaeologists identified the wreck as the Two Brothers, a whaler lost in 1823 under the command of Captain George Pollard. The shipwreck was Pollard's second; his first was the ship Essex, rammed by a whale and sunk in the South Pacific in 1820. The story of the loss of the Essex and its survivors inspired Herman Melville to write "Moby-Dick". The 2010 expedition also included exploration, surveys of numerous maritime archaeological sites, and biogeographical assessment of several shipwreck and sunken aircraft sites in the monument.

Exploring Maritime Landscapes of the Great Lakes at
Thunder Bay

volunteers on the beachInnovative, cost-effective technologies have paved the way for sanctuary staff to locate and learn more about significant shipwrecks at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. With a grant from NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research, the sanctuary deployed cutting-edge shipwreck-finding technology to Lake Huron's "Shipwreck Alley." A 448-square- mile area with 50 known historic shipwrecks is protected by the Thunder Bay sanctuary, but there are more shipwrecks to be discovered beyond the sanctuary boundaries. From Aug. 16 to 27, a team from the sanctuary and the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin set out to discover new shipwrecks and prehistoric archaeological sites using an autonomous underwater vehicle. Visitors who travel to Alpena, Mich., to dive on the wrecks of the sanctuary and learn about them in its visitor center have bolstered the local economy, sparking considerable local and regional interest in expanding the sanctuary to include more shipwrecks.

Annual Research Cruise Targets Seven Historic Shipwrecks

volunteers on the beachOver a two-day period in August 2010, a Stellwagen Bank sanctuary research team visited seven historic shipwrecks, ranging from fishing boats to wooden-hulled sailing vessels with cargoes of coal or stone, and gathered high-definition still and video imagery with the Kraken 2 remotely operated vehicle. Sanctuary archaeologists joined staff from the Northeast Undersea Research Technology and Education Center (NURTEC) at the University of Connecticut to characterize newly located archaeological sites. Several shipwrecks without obvious cargo remains may be the oldest vessels yet located in the sanctuary. Preliminary research on these vessels indicates that the artifacts and vessel construction features date to the early 19th century. This was the sixth Stellwagen Bank sanctuary maritime heritage cruise with NURTEC since 2002. The partnership has successfully investigated 28 shipwreck sites. Archaeologists used data from these cruises to successfully nominate five archaeological sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

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Revised September 12, 2023 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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