Monday, August 16, 2010

Wanna see a shipwreck?

Then you need to go visit the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, MI., to find out where they are! What is a marine sanctuary, you ask? Well, bird sanctuaries protect bird species and their habit, a marine sanctuary protects the waters above and below designated areas such as coral reefs, ocean gardens, deep sea canyons, shipwrecks, whale migration corridors and other underwater historically significant sites. The sanctuary protects such things as the rigging, gear, property of the ship and its officers, and cargo that sank. They also teach conservation and stewardship of these marine areas.
There are more than 200 shipwrecks in Thunder Bay, which is the bay that Alpena is beside in the upper northeast side of the Michigan "mitten". The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Museum is a wonderful gem to go explore. They have replicas in scale of many of the shipwrecks that have occurred in Thunder Bay along with the history of the causes of the sinkings. They have a full size model stern of a typical schooner set up to pretend as though you were battling the high winds in a typical bay storm that caused many a shipwreck--a recording simulates the storm and conversation of some of the people on board--lightning flashes, the ship is tilted, the replica kerosene lamps sway to and fro as if the ship was rocking, you see their living quarters, you really feel almost as if you were there!...They have a simulation exploration room where you look as though you are on the lake floor exploring the wrecks with divers swimming in front of you....(top left photo)

Thunder Bay's shipwrecks are among the best preserved in the world because of the cold, fresh water. The wrecks that are in deeper waters are like time capsules. When you view the museum, you realize how important it is to preserve this underwater history for future generations. Wrecks that are in shallower water are readily available for snorkelers, divers, and kayakers of all abilities to make this a prime educational area for many people and there are companies in the area that promote kayaking trips to see these shipwrecks. The shipwreck sites are marked by NOAA buoys like the one pictured.
I like going to these types of museums because it can teach people to value these things. I read somewhere that people preserve what they value, and value what they understand. The museum sanctuary provides LOTS of educational resources for teachers to bring these unique resources back to their classrooms. If you go on their website, you can access some of this wonderful information and get lesson plans as well. After we came out of the museum, we saw a large barge in the Thunder Bay harbor, unloading what appeared to be salt. When you see these barges up close, it's always amazing to realize how HUGE they are, and what tremendous storms it must take to sink one of these. I believe the last sinking was a barge in 1966 in the bay.

Until tomorrow then, if you didn't get anything valuable from this blog, at least remember this--when times get tough, as the flag on the big barge in the Alpena harbor said, "Don't give up the ship!"

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