Designated: June 22, 2021
Area: 962 mi2
Designated in June 2021 based on a community-driven nomination, Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary extends from Wisconsin’s Port Washington to Two Rivers. Co-managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the state of Wisconsin, the sanctuary expands on the state’s 30-year management of these historic sites. In partnership with local communities, the sanctuary provides a national stage for promoting recreation and heritage tourism.
Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary provides stewardship for our nation’s maritime heritage in Lake Michigan combining significant marine heritage, recreation and exploration opportunities. The sanctuary is home to 39 known shipwrecks, with the potential for more to be found. Fifteen of these vessels are preserved almost completely intact due to the Great Lakes’ cold water conditions. Three have standing masts, a rarity among sunken wrecks. Research indicates that the site has over 100 reported vessel losses, indicating that more wrecks lie waiting to be discovered, explored, and protected.
For some, these wrecks are family legends and local lore tied to their ancestry and community in addition to their national historic importance. These hallowed waters harbor vessels lost to the treacherous waters and weather of the lakes. For others, they serve as popular locations for diving, boating, fishing, recreation, and heritage tourism contributing revenue to the local economy.