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Dive Mooring Pilot Project

The sanctuary’s maritime heritage program is working with the dive community to facilitate access to sanctuary dive sites. Sanctuary staff partnered with Sanctuary Advisory Council diving representative Heather Knowles (of Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions, Inc.) to install a dive mooring system on the unidentified trawler shipwreck located in 105 feet of water on Stellwagen Bank. The mooring installation was part of a pilot project to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of dive moorings in the sanctuary. The mooring will facilitate access for divers to sanctuary shipwrecks and prevent anchoring damage to the shipwreck.

Diver Prep
Divers on the R/V Gauntlet prepare to dive on the trawler (courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and Heather Knowles, NADE)

Diver Wheelhouse
Sanctuary Advisory Council alternate diving member Bob Foster explores the trawler’s wheelhouse (courtesy of Heather Knowles, NADE)

Archaeologist Stern
Sanctuary archaeologist Matthew Lawrence captures video of the trawler’s upside-down stern (courtesy of Heather Knowles, NADE)

Subsurface Mooring
The pilot project’s subsurface mooring rises 10 feet above the seafloor and provides a secure place to tie a shot line (courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and Heather Knowles, NADE)

Conceived by Heather Knowles, the project deployed a novel mooring design that uses a heavy anchor and a short length of buoyed chain. Divers deploy a shot line at the moorings location, swim down the shot line, and then connect their shot line to the mooring. The dive boat can then securely anchor allowing for the easy access to the wreck by subsequent divers. Divers often use this same technique to visit shipwrecks, but usually they tie their shot line onto the shipwreck. This leads to site damage over the long term.

The project was funded by a grant from Project Aware and supports the Sanctuary Management Plan’s Maritime Heritage Action Plan strategy MH6.2. For more information on the unidentified trawler shipwreck visit the diving or shipwreck sections of the sanctuary’s website.


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