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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Proposed Sanctuaries Aim to Protect Historic Shipwrecks

January 6, 2017

  • (Photo: NOAA)
  • Mallows Bay in the Potomac River contains more than 100 known and still-to-be-discovered shipwrecks. (Photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University)
  • (Photo: NOAA) (Photo: NOAA)
  • Mallows Bay in the Potomac River contains more than 100 known and still-to-be-discovered shipwrecks. (Photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University) Mallows Bay in the Potomac River contains more than 100 known and still-to-be-discovered shipwrecks. (Photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University)

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released draft plans for proposed national marine sanctuaries in Wisconsin and Maryland that would aim to protect nationally significant shipwrecks, including those from the 1800s, World War I and other maritime battlegrounds.

The sanctuaries were originally proposed to NOAA in 2014, and if created would be the first since 2000.

In Wisconsin, NOAA is proposing to designate a 1,075-square-mile area of Lake Michigan adjacent to Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties that holds 37 known shipwrecks including Wisconsin's two oldest known shipwrecks discovered to date – the Gallinipper (1833) and the Home (1843). As many as 80 shipwrecks are still yet to be discovered in the proposed sanctuary. The ships here played critical roles in the settlement and development of the Midwest during the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

In Maryland, NOAA is proposing a national marine sanctuary along a 52-square-mile stretch of the tidal Potomac River, adjacent to Charles County. Mallows Bay contains more than 100 known and still to be discovered shipwrecks, including the remains of “Ghost Fleet” vessels built as part of America’s engagement in World War I, as well as sites related to the region’s Native American cultures and maritime battlegrounds from the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

Both potential sanctuaries were proposed to NOAA through its sanctuary nomination process and received broad community and bipartisan support. Last year, NOAA held public meetings in Wisconsin and Maryland and received comments on potential sanctuary boundaries and resources that could be protected.

The public will be able to weigh in on two proposals beginning Monday, January 9.

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