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Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Tiny Instruments Help Locate Shipwrecks

Diver with Instruments
Click here for a video demonstrating this underwater work. (Photo credit: Robert V. Schwemmer, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary)
Marine scientists and researchers working in the national marine sanctuaries are always looking for new and better ways to improve our understanding of the ocean world. Their efforts and the application of improved technology, leads to more effective ways to make necessary management decisions that enhance the future of the sanctuaries and of our maritime cultural heritage.  And sometimes, the biggest strides in science and exploration come from the tiniest of instruments.

One example of the many uses of advanced technology occurred last year in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Working with the Channel Islands National Park and Coastal Maritime Archaeology Resources, scientists from the California sanctuary installed eight datums over a five-day mission that will improve accurate measurements for recording current positions of submerged artifacts.

These 1-inch, non-ferrous posts were installed at the shipwreck sites of the Winfield Scott and Aggi in the sanctuary. The shipwreck sites offers a unique opportunity to study mid nineteenth-century ship construction and propulsion design. Each datum will serve as a reference point for conducting archaeological research and for establishing permanent camera positions for recording still and videotape documentation of major artifacts. The datums will establish a baseline of information that archaeologists can use for evaluating human and environmental impacts on Channel Island shipwreck sites. 

Please visit the Channel Islands shipwreck database to learn why the vessels wrecked and the fate of their passengers. 

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Revised July 31, 2017 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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