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Sanctuary’s buoy system helps preserve Lake Huron’s historical treasures

(Photo Courtesy/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary) Popular shipwreck spots are marked by buoys.

Alpena, Mich. — In order to protect the historical shipwrecks throughout the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, maritime archaeologists and scuba divers hit the waters to set up a seasonal mooring buoy system.

Hundreds of shipwrecks and interesting geological features fill the depths of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A team installs buoys at over 50 sites in Lake Huron. This is the 17th season that Wayne and his team have been setting up mooring buoys.

“We look over the mooring buoy system to make sure everything is good,” said Lusardi. “All of the tackle that goes down to a train wheel, so the buoys are not directly tied to the shipwrecks…They’re next to them.”

State maritime archaeologist Wayne Lusardi coordinates both the drop off and pick up each mooring buoy which means he is one of the first to visit the wrecks each season.

“This time of year, it’s a really great time to actually see the shipwrecks, and they are like old friends I guess?” chuckled Lusardi. “The clarity of the water makes that a really awesome experience.”

The two week process has Lusardi and his team consistently in and out of the water which can pose quite a bit of a challenge with the wrong conditions.

“It is cold, so it’s a little bit stressful in that regard because you do get chills after a few dives,” said Lusardi. “We usually do maybe six to eight dives a day if the weather is good.”

Come October, Lusardi and his team will hit the water again and pick up the mooring buoys you see while enjoying Lake Huron. To see where each buoy is located, visit