March 2005 the sanctuary, in partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution (WHOI) and Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological
Resources (MBUAR) utilized the WHOI autonomous underwater vehicle
(AUV) SeaBED to image shipwrecks in the sanctuary with high resolution
still photography. These images will be stitched together to produce
a photomosaic for maritime heritage resource management and public
vessel Tioga was used for the
SeaBED AUV project in the sanctuary.
SeaBED AUV and WHOI imaging technology offer the possibility of
detailed site documentation with several advantages in cost and
efficiency when compared to similar documentation using SCUBA
diving or remotely operated vehicles. Furthermore, the refinement
of AUV site investigation methodologies will allow investigation
of sites beyond the range of SCUBA diving.
AUV SeaBED is launched off the research vessel
for its mission in the sanctuary to image a shipwreck.
is a proven platform that has successfully imaged cobble beds
in Massachusetts Bay, but it has not been used to document
a submerged cultural resource site in the sanctuary. The use
of SeaBED on the proposed shipwreck sites will demonstrate
the advantages that this technology offers to another discipline
that has a need for precision imaging.
photomosaics of Massachusetts Bay cobble beds are not exact
maps of the seafloor; however, the images provide a tremendous
amount of information on the bottom habitats that is otherwise
unavailable through conventional imaging techniques. Likewise,
the resulting site photomosaics will not be archaeological
site maps, but will provide information valuable for site
characterization, determination of historical significance,
site monitoring, and public interpretation.
the photomosaics will also serve to document the habitat
created by the shipwreck sites. This secondary habitat documentation
component adds further value to the survey for the natural
photomosaic strip to the left is of the seafloor on top
of Stellwagen Bank near a shipwreck (Courtesy of WHOI).
project was funded through grant from NOAA's
Office of Ocean Exploration and NOAA's
Maritime Heritage Program.