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NOAA Diving Units Partner for Research

2017
Aug 07
Two divers look at shipwreck covered in a swirl of fishes

NOAA Divers Will Sassorossi and Ensign Sara Thompson explore the shipwreck of the Schurz.

NOAA divers from Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (MNMS), the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster are partnering for a multi-year study of World War I and World War II shipwrecks off North Carolina. 

The goal of the partnership is to characterize the archaeological and biological status of shipwrecks and rocky reefs in proposed expansion areas of MNMS, using high-resolution video and acoustic imaging, remote sensing equipment, and visual assessments. This was the first year of the study, which kicked off with an expedition aboard NOAA Ship Nancy Foster from July 4 to 15, 2017 off Beaufort, North Carolina, with most dives taking place in Onlsow Bay. The shipwrecks selected for study this year were the USS Schurz, WE Hutton, U-352, HMS Bedforshire, and the Ashkhabad.

A diver swims over a shipwreck

NOAA Diver and archaeologist Will Sassorossi investigates the forward section of the Bedforshire’s remains. 

Diver duties crossed over between biological and archaeological surveys, including videography, the installation of time-lapse video cameras and sound recorders, and conducting benthic and archaeological surveys. MNMS and NCCOS have a long history of collaboration, with each office contributing its expertise to document the history and habitats off North Carolina. The NOAA Corps officers serving on the Nancy Foster have been an essential addition to the diving teams, serving as safety divers and contributing photographic documentation of the sites.

A diver next to a shipwreck

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster’s Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Tony Perry swims over the hull of the U-352.

The numerous WWII shipwrecks off North Carolina's Outer Banks have become thriving artificial reefs and a huge economic benefit to the local recreational fishing and diving communities. Data and visual documentation of these important resources will be used to educate the public about the resources contained in their coastal communities and the benefits of protecting the shipwrecks for their historical and biological significance.

Learn more about Monitor National Marine Sanctuary by visiting their website.

A swirl of fish and a barracuda at the site of a shipwreck.

The wreck of the USS Schurz has abundant marine life and many predator fish, including this barracuda. 

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