Sunday, March 4, 2012

Long-lost shipwrecks discovered in Lake Huron

'Project Shiphunt' documents remains of ships that went down in 1889 and 1905.

A team of underwater explorers has found two long-lost shipwrecks in northeastern Lake Huron.

Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary on July 2011 announced the discovery of the schooner M.F. Merrick and the steel freighter Etruria in deep water off Presque Isle.

They were detected during an expedition called "Project Shiphunt," which involved scientists and historians from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and five high school students from Saginaw, Michigan.

Both ships sank after colliding with steamers in dense fog.

The 138-foot-long Merrick went down in 1889. Five crew members were killed. The intact hull was found resting upright on the lake bottom.

The Etruria, which was 414 feet long, sank in 1905 — just three years after it was launched. Today the steamer sits upside down in deep water.

NOAA said the wrecks are being documented in 3-D imagery for the first time. A documentary about the expedition, sponsored by Sony and Intel, has aired on the Current cable network.

"This research will help us protect the Great Lakes and their rich history for future generations," Jeff Gray, superintendent of Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary, said in a NOAA news release. "It is also an extraordinary opportunity to inspire the next generation of explorers and introduce them to technology and experiences that could shape their futures."

This report includes information from The Associated Press and NOAA.

Kathy Dowsett

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