Peters Scuba Dives at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

ALPENA, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters today visited the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where he went scuba diving to view shipwreck sites and toured the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Peters also met with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers to learn more about their current projects, including mapping new Lake Huron deep water ship wrecks and studying uncharted sink holes. Peters is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees NOAA.

“From educational opportunities and historic preservation to increased economic development and tourism, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a critical component of Michigan’s maritime cultural landscape,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force. “We must devote robust resources to these special places so that researchers and scientists at Thunder Bay and other sanctuaries have the support they need to continue their conservation and research efforts.”

“We are honored Senator Peters is supportive of our efforts to protect Great Lakes and their rich history,” said Jeff Gray, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent. “We are thrilled that he got the chance to explore some of the Thunder Bay’s incredible shipwrecks.”

Located in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established in 2000 to protect one of the nation’s most historically significant collections of shipwrecks. In 2014, the sanctuary expanded from 448 to 4,300 square miles, making it the nation’s largest marine protected area focused on underwater cultural heritage sites. Within this new boundary are 93 known shipwreck sites, while historic research indicates as many 100 additional sites in the area remain undiscovered.

Last week, Peters announced a NOAA grant awarding $131,191 to the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The grant will support a diverse, interdisciplinary team that will use advanced technology to develop innovative methods to locate and rapidly assess additional cultural sites underwater within Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In August of last year, Peters and Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced the bipartisan Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Assessment Act, which would recognize historically significant underwater areas in the Great Lakes as National Marine Sanctuaries. This designation would increase tourism and boost Michigan’s economy.