Shipwrecks and Artifacts
Frigid water temperatures have preserved the ships that have fallen victim to the wrath of the Lake Superior. Shipwrecks are accessible to divers at five underwater preserves in the Upper Peninsula: the Straits of Mackinac, Whitefish Point, Alger, Marquette and Keweenaw Underwater Preserves.
Michigan's underwater preserves protect some of the region's most sensitive underwater resources. Shipwrecks and natural features attract skin and scuba divers from across the U.S. They come to explore these shipwrecks and see how the cold, fresh water of the Great Lakes preserves history. Michigan's underwater preserve system was created in 1980 through legislation supported by Michigan sport divers.
Since then divers have ensured that their sport will remain a high-quality activity with stiff penalties for illegal removal or alteration of artifacts. It is a felony to remove or disturb artifacts in the Great Lakes. Those caught removing portholes, anchors, anchor chain, or other "souvenirs" will have their boats, cars, and equipment confiscated and will face up to two years imprisonment and stiff fines. Divers who have information about the theft of artifacts can report violations to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources by calling (800) 292-7800.
The result of these laws is the finest sport diving in the Midwest. Many sport divers are surprised to find shipwrecks so well preserved. Small items, such as ceramic cups, tools, silverware, ornaments, and other artifacts often remain where they were discovered many years before.
Most of the popular dive sites are buoyed in the summer by volunteers of the Michigan Underwater Preserve Council, Inc., a private, non profit organization dedicated to development of the preserves. Many preserves also offer exceptional shore-access diving. Be prepared for cool water. Although surface temperatures may reach 65 degrees or more in midsummer, temperatures below 40 feet may be substantially less. Most Great Lakes divers use full wet suits.
After diving in any of Michigan's underwater preserves, you may find yourself wanting to try them all! Each offers a unique experience.
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