Marine sanctuary expanding in Lake Huron

Sep 5, 2014

A watery window to Michigan’s past is expanding.

A diver inspects the wreck of the 3 masted schooner American Union, which sank in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1894.
A diver inspects the wreck of the 3 masted schooner American Union, which sank in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1894.
Credit Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is expanding from its present 448 square miles of Lake Huron to 4,300 square miles.

Jeff Gray is the sanctuary superintendent. He says the expanded sanctuary will protect hundreds of shipwrecks, many dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Each one of these wrecks is a tragic tale of how it ended up on the bottom. But each one of those wrecks played its part in building the country,” says Gray.  

Gray says the cold Great Lakes waters help preserve the wrecks. 

He says the preserved shipwrecks serve both scientific researchers and recreational divers.   

Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin praises the expansion of the marine sanctuary.

“Thunder Bay has been a tremendous success,” says Levin. “It has offered an educational wonderland for students, researchers, and divers, and it has protected and preserved our maritime history and supported economic development.”

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary draws about 60,000 people to the region annually.

It’s one of 13 marine sanctuaries in the United States.  The expansion of Thunder Bay has been in the works since 2006.