NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

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NOAA GLERL and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary featured in Great Lakes Now’s “Shipwrecks and Ecosystems” watch party

Have you ever wanted to explore Great Lakes shipwrecks and the underwater life that lives around them? Now you can, right from home! This recent feature from Detroit Public TV’s Great Lakes Now program introduces viewers to the world of shipwrecks in NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, as well as their relationship with the surrounding natural environment. Originally recorded on October 12, 2020, Great Lakes Now Program Director Sandra Svoboda talks with NOAA GLERL Research Ecologist Ashley Elgin and NOAA Maritime Archaeologist Stephanie Gandulla about this unique sanctuary in northern Lake Huron.

Divers approach a shipwreck on the bottom of Lake Huron in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Invasive mussels completely cover the railing of the ship.

Elgin discusses some of the fascinating ways that these shipwrecks intersect with the ecology around them, from the impacts invasive species have on the wrecks to the differences in fauna surrounding shallow wrecks versus deep ones. Gandulla focuses on the historic perspective of the sanctuary and its shipwrecks, helping viewers dive into the “history under the waves” with underwater footage of the shipwrecks themselves.

The video also features a preview of the new PBS documentary series Age of Nature, which leads Elgin and Gandulla to discuss the differences between shipwrecks and their ecosystems in the ocean and the Great Lakes. Watch the full video below!

Plus, here are a few more photos from the breathtaking views of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

Paddleboarders explore a shallow shipwreck from the surface in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northern Lake Huron. The clearness of the water is enhanced by filtration from the invasive mussels that Research Ecologist Ashley Elgin studies at NOAA GLERL.
A propeller from the Monohansett shipwreck rests on the Lake Huron floor in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The dilapidated deck of the shipwreck E.B. Allen is mostly covered in invasive mussels as it sits on the bottom of Lake Huron in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The bubbles from a diver’s oxygen tank can be seen rising up from inside the wreck.