Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary could grow tenfold

F.T. Barney exploration, photo courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the only federally protected national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes. It encompasses 448 square miles of Lake Huron’s bottomlands off Alpena. It was established in 2000 to protect a nationally significant collection of nearly 200 shipwrecks, spanning over a century of Great Lakes shipping history. It draws over 70,000 visitors every year and is a haven for protection, education and research for shipwrecks and our maritime heritage.

Now Thunder Bay is poised to grow almost tenfold to over 4,000 square miles including waters off Alcona and Presque Isle counties. The Great Lakes Echo notes that today is the last day for public comment for or against the expansion. You can email your comments to Carolyn Sundquist of the Echo explains that vessels can pass through it without restriction and that:

The proposed expansion includes an estimated 200 shipwrecks and would connect the underwater sanctuary from Michigan to the shores of Canada. No public funds are allotted as part of the approval.

“Very positive support has been received from the public comment sessions and many of the local governments have passed resolutions supporting the expansion,” said Jeff Gray, the sanctuary’s superintendent.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, various state senators and officials of adjacent cities have written letters of support. So has the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Sanctuary explains that the 126′ two masted schooner F.T. Barney was built in 1856 and wrecked on October 23, 1868 en route from Cleveland to Milwaukee. The F.T. Barney was run into by the schooner T.J. Bronson and sank in less than two minutes in very deep water with a cargo of coal. No lives were lost, and the wreck is one of the most complete of its kind with masts and deck equipment still in place.

See many more shots of divers and shipwrecks in their Fieldwork 2007 gallery – be sure to toggle the “View” link to slideshow in the top left for larger pics.

Many more Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures!

3 thoughts on “Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary could grow tenfold

  1. I think it would be good to expand the shipwreck area. It would give more opportunities for exploration of historical shipwrecks.


  2. This is my back yard, quite literally. What lies beneath Thunder Bay is a treasure of significant history that never ceases to fascinate me despite being born and raised on it’s shores. Great post, as always. :)


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