Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Established in 2000 on an already existing state underwater preserve, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was created to protect the nearly 100 shipwrecks hidden beneath Lake Huron off Alpena.

The shipwrecks date from the 1840s through the 1970s and include paddle wheel steamboats, schooners, sailing craft, tugs and steamers. Many are located in shallow water and can be visited by divers, kayakers, or passengers on the Lady Michigan, a glass bottom tour boat that offers a shipwreck experience without getting wet.

Home to some of the best preserved and historically significant shipwrecks in the United States, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a world-class wreck diving destination, on par with places such as Scapa Flow in Scotland and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia.

The only National Marine Sanctuary in freshwater, and the only specifically designed to protect a large collection of historic shipwrecks, Thunder Bay is also home of the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, where non-divers can view many of the area’s incredibly well-preserved historic treasures. 

- Wayne Lusardi is an underwater archaeologist for the DNR at the Alpena Underwater Marine Sanctuary and Preserve.