Since their beginning in 2000, the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST) has had quite a positive impact regarding the knowledge about and preservation of Lake Erie shipwrecks. From training divers the skills necessary to conduct shipwreck research, to conducting numerous underwater shipwreck surveys, MAST has become an important part in the preservation of Ohio's Lake Erie maritime heritage.
One of the most important efforts MAST has undertaken is the seasonal placement of mooring buoys on popular Lake Erie shipwrecks. This effort had been pursued in the past by the Ohio Submerged Lands Advisory Council, yet fell short of the goal of actual placement as a legal, 501C3 non-profit group was necessary from the point of liability. MAST proceeded to obtain this non-profit status, and took on the chore of acquiring grants to purchase mooring buoy materials, heavy buoy anchors and the coasts of seasonal placement and removal of mooring buoys. Through grants provided by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Office of Coastal Management, MAST has succeeded in acquiring mooring buoy permits for ten popular Lake Erie shipwreck sites, seven of which were buoyed during 2007. MAST is currently seeking funding to complete the buoying of the remaining three permitted wreck sites during 2008.
Why mooring buoys? In this era of GPS navigation, few knowledgeable divers need a buoy to mark the location of a shipwreck. However, anchoring close to the wreck can result in major damage to the wreck itself; especially when an anchor is hooked directly to the wreck structure. Mooring buoys allow a vessel to connect directly to the buoy without destructive anchoring. In addition, the heavily anchored buoy, being right next to the shipwreck, provides for a high level of diver safety in both locating the wreck, and returning to their dive vessel.
For more information about the MAST Ohio Shipwreck Mooring Project, how you can be a part of MAST, and how you can contribute to their efforts, please visit: http://www.ohiomast.org/
|Photo Courtesy Andy Dennis, MAST|