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The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' Interest
in the Lost Whaling Fleets of the Western Arctic

 The CSS Shenandoah, hauled into drydock for 
repairs in Melbourne, Australia, February 1865. 
Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center

The CSS Shenandoah, hauled into drydock for repairs in Melbourne, Australia, February 1865. (Photo: U.S. Naval Historical Center)

As mandated in the National Marine Sanctuary Act, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program is responsible for effective stewardship of America's maritime heritage resources. Working in collaboration with the State of Alaska Office of History and Archaeology and others, the NMSP Maritime Heritage Program is bringing additional resources and assets to support this fascinating and important work. Maritime archaeologists and historians employed by NOAA are already involved in whaling heritage survey and preservation efforts across the nation. For NOAA, the Lost Whaling Fleets of the Western Arctic represent a featured partnership project within the context of our larger national whaling narrative. As regards the 1871 and 1876 disasters, NOAA seeks to work in collaboration with local researchers in Alaska, bringing new platforms and advanced underwater technologies to the ongoing investigation.

Whalers Lost in the Western Arctic

Whalers Lost in the Western Arctic

Ships conducting offshore magnetometer and side scan sonar surveys, and aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) flights will both provide essential information on what remains of these lost whaling vessels. Also, NOAA will help interpret and communicate these events to a national audience, bringing the considerable experience and expertise of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary education, outreach and communication staff with Web- based education and outreach, video production and telepresence to help tell the story.

As for what were, at the end of June in 1865, For Further Information, contact: the brightly-burning American whaling vessels the SHENANDOAH left in its wake, background research is being conducted, potential partners being identified, and preliminary planning for what field surveys might be undertaken in coming years is in the very early stages of development. This research continues and expands NOAA's long involvement with Civil War history and heritage at the MONITOR National Marine Sanctuary.

Through this work in some of the most remote places on Earth, the NOAA's Marine Sanctuary Program will tie together places emblematic of our whaling heritage - New Bedford, Nantucket, Hawaii and California - through national marine sanctuaries associated with these stories from our whaling past. NOAA will weave together these compelling accounts of the icebound whaling fleets of the 1870's and the epic story of the SHENANDOAH with what is learned from field research conducted by NOAA and its partners to enhance and expand the American public's understanding and appreciation this historically significant chapter of America's maritime history.