Photo Credit: B. Huizing
Since 1980, Michigan’s underwater preserve system has grown to occupy more than 7,000 square miles of Great Lakes bottomland in thirteen distinct underwater preserves. They protect some of the region’s most sensitive and historic underwater resources. Thanks to the strict legal regulations forbidding the removal of artifacts and the conscientious adherence by divers to the law, shipwreck diving in Michigan’s Great Lakes is some of the best in the world. Divers unfamiliar with Michigan’s underwater preserve system are surprised to find well-preserved, pristine shipwrecks. Even small items such as cups, silverware, tools, machinery ornaments and other relics remain where they were discovered by the first divers many years before.
The DeTour Passage Underwater Preserve
Narrow points between land masses create natural “choke points” for navigators. The DeTour Passage is just such a natural point channeling ships bound from Lake Huron to the locks at Sault Ste. Marie into a narrow strait between the eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Drummond Island. Storms, heavy seas and navigation errors have all contributed to shipping losses in and near the Passage. The remains of lost ships rest there in fairly shallow waters easily accessible to divers.
Shore accessible dive sites include the hulls of abandoned wooden ships. A portion of one of these, the Sainte Marie, can be seen above the water. The steel paddlewheel of another shipwreck can be found nearby. Divers should be aware of private property rights when accessing shore locations. Permission of property owners should be obtained when appropriate before crossing or accessing private property.
Map courtesy of Michigan Underwater Preserve Council.
A Diver's Guide to Michigan Underwater Preserves is a great resource for discovering all of Michigan's sunken treasures.
Preserve Council, Inc.
An all-volunteer 501 (c)3 Non-Profit organization PO Box 844,
St. Ignace, MI 49781
Click here to download a pdf.