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Proposed NOAA Wisconsin—Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary

March 10 2017

Two Wisconsin middle school teachers and two of their students will join NOAA researchers aboard the R/V Storm as they complete a lakebed mapping project in the northern part of the Proposed NOAA Wisconsin—Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary.

March 10 2017


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Preparation Stage

We're navigating a new plan for today based on the small craft advisory that the National Weather Service issued for the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area. Five to eight-foot waves on Lake Michigan are not conducive to lakebed mapping or shipwreck exploring! We're still meeting with our teachers and students at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum to pilot the ROV from the dock, and for some beach activities and seining nearby with Titus Seilheimer, UW Sea Grant fisheries outreach specialist. We'll meet at 2 p.m. as planned at the R/V Storm docked at the museum to discuss the lakebed mapping project with our teachers, students and any reporters who would like to learn more. Looking forward to a great day in Manitowoc!

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Hello, my name is Nicholas Tanck, in 2017 I will succeed with two major goals in my life that I have worked hard to accomplish. These will be entering my freshman year in high school and going on the Lake Michigan Trip to observe the proposed National Marine Sanctuary. I live in Merrill Wisconsin, which is the town north of Wausau and part of Central Wisconsin. I am a Boy Scout of Troop 599, and currently a Star Scout. I took a trip with our troop, to the Mall of America in 2014, and slept in the 300 ft tunnel overnight, watching fish and sharks swim overhead while I fell asleep. The next day we took an oceanography merit badge and I have been interested in ocean life ever since. I also went on a high adventure trip to Isle Royale and hiked from one end of the island to the other. While I was on the island I was able to take a look at the museum in Windigo, and find information about the shipwrecks which occurred around the island. During this Lake Michigan trip, I hope to further my interests of both shipwrecks and marine life, and learn as much as I can through the guidance of NOAA and the others on the trip with me. The opportunity to go on a research vessel and map the lake bed for the proposed National Marine Sanctuary is a chance of a lifetime for me. While researching what I would be doing, I was constantly amazed with the project and everything it encompassed. Things like; mapping the lake bed, going on a research vessel, exploring a shipwreck, and collecting valuable data. These were once childhood dreams that are now becoming realities.

Lynn Kurth, PRMS Teacher, and student Nick Tanck will be going on the Research Vessel Storm as part of a lake-bottom mapping project for the proposed National Marine Sanctuary. In the photo below, the other three students in the picture will be working with Jackie Bizer on the shoreline of Lake MI gathering data as they survey the area for plastics. The data will be utilized by science classes at the middle school in the upcoming 2017-18 school year. Pictured from left to right: Kennedy Berndt, Camryn Schulz, Devin Miller and Nicholas Tanck.


I am looking forward to this trip! I am bringing Samara with me on this adventure.

Awesome! Can't wait to read about your adventures.

Excited to join you!

Expedition Background

Two Wisconsin middle school teachers and two of their students are planning to join NOAA researchers onboard the R/V Storm on Saturday, June 10, 2017, as they use multibeam sonar to map the northern lakebed of the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary. The teachers previously participated on a Center for Great Lakes Literacy Shipboard Science Workshop aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan, the world's only re-creation of a three-masted 19th Century Great Lakes schooner.

While onboard the R/V Storm, the teachers and their students will use an OpenROV Trident to document lakebed habitat and explore one of the shipwrecks located within the proposed marine sanctuary. One of the teachers, Lynn Kurth of Prairie River Middle School in Merrill, Wis., is working with Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board to create a free ROV loan program for Wisconsin teachers using the OpenROV Trident.

Overall Project Background: Mapping, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Assessments to Support the Proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are working with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and state and local partners to compile data and map important lake resources and historic shipwrecks of western Lake Michigan, and also to improve our understanding of the relationships between these resources and coastal communities. Data and assessments will support the management of the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan sanctuary.

Why We Care

In December 2014, the state of Wisconsin nominated an 875 square mile area of western Lake Michigan as a national marine sanctuary. This is a special nomination because there haven’t been any new sanctuaries designated since 2000. This proposal was made through a new community-based Sanctuary nomination process, and it is only the second sanctuary to be proposed within the Great Lakes.

The proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary has deep ties to nearby communities since it encompasses a key portion of an early transportation corridor that was critical to the expansion of the United States and the development of the agricultural and the industrial core of the Nation. The nominated area contains an extraordinary collection of 37 known shipwrecks, 18 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a reported 80 which are yet to be discovered. Designation of a national marine sanctuary will expand the legacy of Wisconsin’s maritime archaeology preservation program, help conserve the largest freshwater system in the world, expand recreational and tourism opportunities, and provide education opportunities and job skills for the next generation.

What We Are Doing

This three-year project includes mapping, ecological and socioeconomic assessments that, together, will improve our understanding of the nominated region’s maritime heritage, ecology and coastal communities. This project will locate shipwrecks and important habitats, characterize water quality and living resources, document which of Lake Michigan’s resources and ecosystem services are most valuable to communities, and identify the conditions of environmental and social parameters linked to the successful management of maritime heritage resources. Some of these data will come from existing sources and will be synthesized for interpretation. Other data, notably remotely sensed lakebed data and socioeconomic data, will be newly acquired.

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are coordinating this project with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and local partners, including local municipalities, the Wisconsin Historical Society and other state agencies, Wisconsin Sea Grant, the University of Wisconsin, and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Additional Information

NCCOS Project Details

Proposed NOAA Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary

Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

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This is fantastic. Can't wait to see where this project uncovers!

Love to come on board and learn more from your process/findings!