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, lets 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.