Smithsonian: Alex Fox The depths of the Great Lakes are littered with the sodden remains of an estimated 6,000 sunken ships. Many of these wrecks—preserved by the cold, freshwater of the so-called inland seas—are nearly pristine, frozen in their final death throes for centuries.
This month, waves and high water levels unearthed two historic shipwrecks on the shores of Lake Michigan, reports Lynn Moore for MLive. Experts from the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association (MSRA) identified the first, discovered near the city of Manistique on April 20, as an early 20th-century schooner named after part-owner Rokus Kanters, a marine contractor and the former mayor of Holland, Michigan. The second, which washed up near Ludington on April 24, has yet to be identified but is thought to date back to the mid-19th century, according to the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum.
The high water levels divulging these ancient wrecks have plagued the Great Lakes region over the past several years, eroding its beaches and threatening lakefront properties.
“We’re seeing some of the highest water levels in recorded history on the Great Lakes, and that’s the result of very wet weather experienced over the last several years,” Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Detroit district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told the Washington Post’s Kim Frauhammer in 2019.
Climate change is the simple explanation for the region’s unprecedented weather and rising water levels, but in lakes, the situation is more complicated than in seas. Instead of an inexorable march upward, the Great Lakes are expected to seesaw between extremes, according to the Post. That means both flooded basements and shipping lanes too shallow for cargo ships loom in the lakes’ future. READ MORE