The Great Lakes surrounding Michigan provided a blue-water highway for trade, transportation and commerce long before Europeans arrived in North America. They were essential to Michigan lumbering, mining and industry, but shoals, storms and human error could bring disaster to ships and their crews. Today, the lakes’ cold, fresh waters preserve hundreds of shipwrecks — time capsules waiting to be explored by divers, kayakers and snorkelers.
In 1980, Michigan adopted laws protecting the shipwrecks on its Great Lakes bottomlands in order to ensure that they remain for future generations to study and enjoy. It also created a system of volunteer-managed Underwater Preserves. Today there are thirteen preserves around the state. One, Thunder Bay, was designated a National Marine Sanctuary in 2000.
All the preserves invite you to explore with your eyes and leave with your pictures and memories. To bring up anything else, or move anything, without a permit is to break the law.
For those who prefer to stay dry, there are glass-bottom boat tours, museums and interpretive trails with the dramatic and sometimes tragic stories of sailors and their ships.
Search for a shipwreck by name or location. Learn more about shipwrecks off the shores of Michigan by clicking the icons. Print a PDF map designed by you.