The Sanctuary

New Marine Sanctuary Possible in Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan Sanctuary

Soon Congress may be considering adding a second underwater marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, NOAA,  confirmed that the Lake Michigan waters off Wisconsin are being considered for the newest preserve under consideration. If approved by Congress it would join the Thunder Bay sanctuary in Lake Huron and be the 14th marine sanctuary in the United States. 

For Scuba Aventures on the Great Lakes

Scuba Lake Michigan
Scuba Wreak Diving Lake Michigan

The 875-square-mile sanctuary would be located along 80 miles of Wisconsin shoreline home the cities of Port Washington, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers. The boundary extends 9 to 14 miles into the lake. It will contain 34 known shipwrecks found in water depths ranging from 10 to 460 feet. Most recreational scuba divers will be able to visit wreaks from 100 feet and shallower.

Outstanding Historical Shipwrecks to Dive

Walter B Allen sunk in 1880 -
Walter B Allen sunk in 1880 – Credit: Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin Historical Society
Fourteen of the known shipwrecks are intact, and the level of hull integrity of these sites far surpasses that of other regions in Wisconsin. Four vessels, the Tennie and Laura, the Walter B.Allen, the Gallinipper, and the Silver Lake, all possess standing masts a rarity in the Great Lakes.
A highlight of the sanctuary is the Walter B. Allen. This ship is one of the most intact schooners on the bottom of the Great Lakes. Because it sank slowly in a snowstorm in April 1888, the two masts are still standing and rise to within 90 feet of the surface. The ship rests at 165 feet.  The capstan from the Walter B. Allen was recovered and now can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Lake Michigan is the second largest of the Great Lakes with a surface area of 22,300 square miles, making it the largest freshwater lake entirely in the United States and the 5th largest lake in the world.  

Next Steps for the Sanctuary

Wreak of Gallinipper
Gallinipper is Wisconsin’s oldest shipwrecks discovered to date. Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society

NOAA staff are currently analyzing public comments and preparing responses, which would appear in the Federal Register should the sanctuary be designated. During the public comment period, many people supported the proposed sanctuary, citing the tourism, economic, education, and shipwreck protection benefits.


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2 thoughts on “New Marine Sanctuary Possible in Lake Michigan”

  1. That is a really really good news for scuba divers, what a great way to discover our maritime history… Great Lakes are the best place in the whole world to dive shipwrecks and maritime history, no oceans come even close of the quality of Great Lakes shipwrecks.

    • Agree. The wrecks have been well preserved. I read that there is a potential for 90 other wrecks in that area.

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