Scuba Diving and Underwater Exploration

Thunber Bay Underwater PreserveBreak out your diving gear and explore sunken ships, take a virtual tour of shipwrecks via live video feeds, or enroll in a class to learn basic scuba diving skills.

Great history lurks below, so, let’s go diving. French voyageurs called Lake Huron "la mer douce" (the sweet sea), but that doesn't always reflect its temperament, especially near Alpena. There, an estimated 200 vessels, from an 1844 sidewheel steamer to modern freighters, rest in "Shipwreck Alley." Thanks to Lake Huron's cold water, many remain largely intact.

The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects 116 of the wrecks in a 448-square-mile area. Scuba divers have long explored the site. And because some of the ships are in water less than 20 feet deep, the area also is attracting snorkelers (you can rent gear at Thunder Bay Scuba).

Wetsuits aren't required at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, where visitors can explore shipwrecks via live video feeds. The center, also headquarters for the Marine Sanctuary, hosts exhibits and programming about maritime history on the inland seas, and is home to an archaeological conservation lab that works to preserve shipwrecks. 

In addition to the Thunder bay Preserve, Michigan is home to twelve other underwater preserves. Each has its own history and exciting fascination.

Want to learn to prefect your scuba diving techniques? Then, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a summer program just for you. Now, you can learn to scuba dive at several state parks through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ new Fresh Air Fit program. Participants will learn the basics of scuba diving from certified instructors from Divers Central/PADI. Check out the locations and upcoming sessions below:

• K.J. Charters Traverse City State Park, July 23-24
• Leelanau State Park, August 6-7 
• Petoskey State Park, August 19-20

Each park will host four classes per day (limit of four students per class), which consist of a 30-minute presentation and one hour of confined-water diving experience supervised by the instructor. Cost is $35 if pre-registered or $50 for drop-ins.

Advance registration is recommended. To register, please contact the specific state park where you would like to attend the class. Students must be at least 12 years of age with parent or guardian approval to participate. Classes will be cancelled if less than four participants are registered within seven days of class. 

The DNR has a number of great summer classes schedule throughout the summer. For a complete list, visit the DNR’s Fresh Air Fit program. A Recreation Passport is required for all vehicles entering all Michigan State Parks.

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