Diving

The Great Lakes are one of the premier destinations in the world for recreational diving. On this page you will find dive guides, mooring locations, safety tips, a history of diving, and information about the research Sea Grant is doing to make diving safer for recreational and professional divers.



Dive Guides

The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and the Wisconsin Historical Society have produced visitors' guides for 18 of Wisconsin 's Lake Superior and Lake Michigan shipwrecks. Offering interpretive tours of the wrecks, the durable, waterproof slates measure 9.5" x 6.5" and feature site maps, schematics, diving information, vessel data, and histories.


Lake Michigan Shipwrecks Guides — Set 1
These waterproof dive guides feature site maps, schematics, diving information, ship data and histories for seven of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shipwrecks: Fleetwing, Francis Hinton, Frank O'Connor, Hetty Taylor, Louisiana, Niagara and Pilot Island. Read more...


Lake Michigan Shipwrecks Guides — Set 2
These waterproof dive guides feature site maps, schematics, diving information, ship data and histories for nine of Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shipwrecks: Appomattox, Boaz, Cherubusco, City of Glasgow, Dan Hayes, Kate Kelly, Lumberman, Reynolds' Pier, Selah Chamberlain. Read more...


Door County Shipwrecks Guides
These waterproof dive guides of Lake Michigan shipwrecks off Door County, Wisconsin: Bullhead Point, Carrington, Christina Nilsson and the Meridian. These guides feature site maps, schematics, diving information, ship data and histories. Read more...


Lake Superior Shipwrecks Guides
These waterproof dive guides feature site maps, schematics, diving information, ship data and histories for seven of Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shipwrecks: Coffinberry, Fedora, Lucerne, Noquebay, Ottawa, Pretoria and Sevona. Read more...


Mooring Locations

With the help of volunteers from around the state the Wisconsin Historical Society maintains permanent mooring buoys on several popular historic shipwrecks. The mooring buoys make the sites more accessible and safer for divers. The moorings also prevent anchor damage to the often fragile shipwreck structure.


All Wrecks
Lake Michigan Wrecks
Lake Superior Wrecks



Safety Tips

To keep your Great Lakes diving safe and enjoyable...
...please consider the following safety tips. Read more...


Types of Diving - A History

Free (Breath-Hold) Diving
Free diving, or breath-hold diving, is the earliest of all diving techniques, and has played a historic role in the search for food and treasure or in military operations. Read more...


Diving Bells
After snorkels, diving bells were the next successful method of increasing endurance underwater. Read more...


Helmet (Hard-Hat) Diving
Although early diving bells provided divers some protection and an air supply, they limited the diver's mobility. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a number of helmet devices (usually made of leather) were developed to provide air to divers and to afford greater mobility. Read more...


Scuba Diving
The development of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or scuba, provided the free-moving diver with a portable air supply which, although finite in comparison with the unlimited air supply available to the helmet diver, allowed for better mobility. Read more...


Saturation Diving
"Saturation diving" is a technique developed by the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s that permits divers to remain at high pressures for weeks or months without having to often undergo decompression and waste the diver's time. Read more...


Diving in a Heavy-Walled Vessel
Heavy-walled vessels can withstand tremendous underwater pressures and maintain their internal pressure at or near sea level pressure -- a pressure called "one atmosphere" or "one atm." Read more...


Tools and Gear for Different Kinds of Diving

Using ROVs
Research teams uses a tool called a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, to help them identify underwater areas from which they will later gather data. Read more...


Tools We Use - An Interview With Keith Meverden
Interview with Keith Meverden, Wisconsin Historical Society underwater archaeologist. Read more...


Videos and Audio Podcast

Maritime Archaeologists Learn Their Trade: Mapping Davidson's Adriatic
Sea Grant supported a team of student divers from East Carolina University to explore and map the Lake Michigan shipwreck, the Adriatic. Read more...


Shipwreck Exploration 2012 - Wednesday, June 20
First day on the Australasia project. We check into the hotel, and take a refresher course for Emergency First Responders. Tomorrow, we dive on the wreck, making detailed sketches to record it for history. Read more...


Shipwreck Exploration 2012 - Thursday, June 21
Day two on the Australasia shipwreck -- but our first day in the water. Things were less than ideal. Read more...


Shipwreck Exploration 2012 - Friday, June 22
Our second day diving on the Australasia -- and the first one of drawing some sections. The weather was beautiful, and the visibility much improved over yesterday. Read more...


Shipwreck Exploration 2012 - Saturday, June 23
Day 3 of mapping the Australasia shipwreck. We met some curious little fish -- and we found a shoe.  Read more...


Shipwreck Exploration 2012 - Sunday, June 24, Part 1
We're getting into the groove now. So much so, that John Karl tackles his first underwater drawing task. It's challenging! Read more...


Shipwreck Exploration 2012 - Sunday, June 24
Several volunteers describe their work on the Australasia. Read more...


Shipwrecks Archeologists and Unholy Apostles
Hear the chilling tale of the sinking of the Lucerne, and listen while underwater archeologists Tamara Thomsen and Keith Meverden share their passion for this fascinating field, explaining its scientific and historical significance. Read more...


The "Vernon"
The steamer was lost with all on board in 1887 near Two Rivers Point, Wis. Read more...


The "Rouse Simons": The Christmas Tree Ship
The Rouse Simmons went down in 1912 near Manitowoc, Wis. Read more...


The "Pretoria": Stanchions and Hanging Knees
This video takes a look at the architecture underpinning the large ship, some of which remains on the lakebed floor. Read more...


The "Pretoria": Scars from the Storm
Researchers move from the frigid waters of Lake Superior at the wreck site, to dry land to sketch the large schooner-barge. Read more...


The "Pretoria": Diving into History
A look at the archaeological research on this Lake Superior shipwreck. Read more...


The "Pretoria": A Backbone of Oak
This ship carried iron ore. When it went down in Lake Superior, five crew members lost their lives. Read more...


The "Niagara": Measuring and Sketching
This wooden steamer was built in Buffalo, N.Y. and plied the Great Lakes for 10 years. Read more...


The "Niagara": Major Wreck Sections
The wreck site is nearly a quarter mile in length and includes a section of the main hull with its paddlewheel shafts. Read more...


The "Niagara": Identifying the Remains
When the "Niagara" went down, 60 lives were lost. Read more...


The "Niagara" Rediscovered
The steamer "Niagra" was rediscovered in 50 feet of Lake Michigan water in the mid-1960s by recreational divers. Read more...


The "Lucerne": Frozen in the Rigging
This schooner went down in Lake Superior waters in 1886. All crew members, nine in all, were lost during a storm. Read more...


The "Frank O'Connor": Toward the Stern
The "Frank O'Connor's" long, proud stern is still intact under the surface of Lake Michigan. Read more...


The "Frank O'Connor": Propulsion Machinery
Resting in the waters off of Door County, Wis., this ship had efficient propulsion engineering for the time. Read more...


The "Frank O'Connor": Pour on the Steam!
This video of a Lake Michigan shipwreck offers narration on the ship's history. Read more...


The "Frank O'Connor": Exploring the Engine
This wooden-hull ship burned and then sank to her watery resting place in Lake Michigan. Read more...


The "Fleetwing" Rail and Upper Side
Get a look at some different angles of this 1888 shipwreck in Lake Michigan. Read more...


The "Fleetwing" Keelson
Dive to this schooner that sank in Lake Michigan waters in 1888. Read more...


The "City of Glasgow": Just Below the Surface
Through video, explore this Lake Michigan steamer, and later barge, which in the late 1890s was one the largest of her kind in the Great Lakes. Read more...


A Tour of the "Northerner"
Check out a historic Lake Michigan shipwreck without getting wet. Read more...


Related Websites

Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks
Explore Wisconsin's Great Lakes shipwrecks through underwater video, historic photographs and archaeological discoveries. You can also stay on dry land and dive into shipwreck-related stories and attractions through this site that is presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Read more...


Underwater Exploration
Visit our Underwater Exploration site where you can find cool science, experiments, quizzes, a historical timeline on diving and more. Read more...


Wisconsin's Water Library

Wisconsin's Water Library has reading lists on many different topics.  Take a look at the Great Lakes shipwrecks reading list.

Read more...

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