Wrecks Media Project Wins Award!
Team Completes Mission
The Deep Wrecks Project Team
Move your cursor over each person's face to see
his or her name.
The Deep Wrecks Project Team returned to port on Saturday
evening, August 14, after sixteen days at sea. Six of the seven planned wreck
sites were visited, one site being dropped from the list due to adverse weather
conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.
to the Deep Wrecks Project website. This unique program of research combines
archaeology, history, biology, metalurgy and oceanography to study how structures
or objects function as artificial reefs in deep water. Although there is not
yet a complete understanding of how artificial reefs function on the
continental shelf, particularly in the photic zone above 100 m, it is
generally accepted that artificial reefs can serve a positive function by
the creation of new hard-bottom habitat in areas where hard-bottom is
The ideal laboratory for this
study exists in the Gulf of Mexico where 56 ships were sunk by German
submarines during World War II, most within a few months of each other in
1942. Seven of these vessels
— one of which was lost to accident rather than enemy
— were located during oil
and gas surveys and selected for this study because they represent a range
of depths (from 280 feet to 6,500 feet) and carried a variety of cargoes.
Because of the range of water depths, which
represent different ecological niches, and the fact that most of the vessels
were sunk within a few months of one another, they represent a unique
opportunity to study the "artificial reef effect" in differing depths over
the course of 60 years. In addition to the
biological characterizations that will be conducted at each site, the
vessels will be documented and studied as historic sites for nomination to
the National Register of Historic Places.
Target ships for the Deep Wrecks
Project. Image courtesy Minerals Management Service.