2012 - Maritime Heritage Characterization and Monitoring Project

The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary had a busy 2012 field season. To start the summer Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) diving member and Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, Inc. president Heather Knowles, in partnership with the Stellwagen Bank sanctuary, received a grant from the PADI Foundation to install a dive mooring on the F/V North Star shipwreck. The grant also provided funding for photo documentation of marine debris on sanctuary shipwrecks to help educate the public about the effects marine debris have on the environment and maritime heritage resources.

Divers mooring near North Star
Divers use the sub-surface mooring near the North Star's remains.
(courtesy of Heather Knowles, Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, Inc.)

In July 2012, sanctuary staff installed the sub surface dive mooring on the North Star located in 100 feet of water on top of Stellwagen Bank. The mooring will facilitate diver access to sanctuary shipwrecks and minimize damage to the site from repeated anchoring. This is the second dive mooring installed in the sanctuary. Information on the North Star can be found at: http://stellwagen.noaa.gov/maritime/northstar.html

Site drawing of North Star
Site drawing of the North Star shipwreck showing the position of the sub-surface mooring.
(courtesy of David Caldwell, Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, Inc.)

Following the relocation of the Helgoland saturation diving habitat location area on Jeffreys Ledge in July 2010, sanctuary researchers have sought to reveal more of the story behind this pioneering scientific diving project (see Banknotes Spring/Summer 2011 for an extensive story on the mission).

Divers prepare to visit Helgoland site
Divers onboard the R/V Auk prepare to visit the Helgoland site on Jeffreys Ledge
(courtesy of Ivar Babb, NURTEC-UConn)

In partnership with the Northeast Underwater Research Technology and Education Center at the University of Connecticut (NURTEC-UConn), sanctuary and UConn divers installed a commemorative plaque at the Helgoland saturation diving habitat site. The bronze plaque has a raised relief image of the habitat and recognizes the contribution of Richard Cooper, noted UConn and NOAA scientist, to undersea research. In the process of installing the plaque, sanctuary archaeologists located additional physical remains from the FISSHH Project (First International Study of Spawning Herring and Hydroacoustics) that the sanctuary will interpret as a recreational dive site. For more information on NURTEC-UConn visit: http://www.nurc.uconn.edu/Link directs to non-NOAA site.

Chris Cooper and Helgoland plaque
Chris Cooper stops for a photo next to the Helgoland plaque that commemorates his father's research endeavors (courtesy of Peter Auster, UConn).

Lastly, Sanctuary archaeologists conducted several days of ROV, side scan sonar, and diving operations off the R/V Auk during 2012 to locate, assess, and monitor the sanctuary's archaeological resources. Additionally, surveys located derelict fishing gear for Stellwagen Alive!'s derelict fishing gear retrieval cruise and investigated possible recreational dive sites on Sanctuary Hill, Stellwagen Bank, and Jeffreys Ledge.

Sanctuary archaeologists conduct annual dives on the Paul Palmer shipwreck to monitor and further characterize the site (courtesy of Matthew Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS).


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