Exploring the Florida in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Diver exploring the wreck of the Florida

Exploring the Florida, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary encompasses almost 450 square miles of Lake Huron’s bottomlands off Alpena. It is the thirteenth national marine sanctuary and was established in 2000 to protect a nationally significant collection of nearly 200 shipwrecks, spanning over a century of Great Lakes shipping history. Thunder Bay is the first Great Lakes sanctuary and also the first to focus solely on a large collection of underwater cultural resources. The headquarters of the Sanctuary is the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena.

The photo above is one of many awesome underwater photos of the Florida and other shipwrecks that can be viewed in their Fieldwork 2007 Gallery. Seriously, this is cool – go look at it and be sure to click the “slideshow” view at the top left to see the larger sized images.

Dave Swayze’s amazing Great Lakes Shipwrecks File includes information on 4,760 great lakes shipwrecks. It says that on May 21, 1897 in dense fog off False Presque Isle, the 271′ package freighter Florida, one of largest boats on the Great Lakes, collided with one of the few that was larger, the steamer George W. Roby. The Roby rescued her crew, but with a large hole in her starboard side, the Florida sank in just 12 minutes in 250′ of water.

There’s more information on the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve over at Absolute Michigan.

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