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September 8, 2011 - Diane Speer
I was reminded last night of how very fortunate we are to have the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary located right in our own backyard. Just this summer, the NOAA folks there helped discover and identify two new shipwrecks out in Thunder Bay.
The really cool aspect is that the finds - one of the ships met its watery grave 122 years ago - were part of a special project enabling five disadvantaged high school students from Saginaw Arthur Hill High School to do much of the search and find work and, equally exciting, the whole experience was turned into a high quality documentary film, "Project Shiphunt."
My husband and I decided to attend last night's premier showing of this new documentary film. We weren't the only ones whose interest in the project was peaked - so many people were in attendance that a sizeable amount of the viewers spilled over from the sanctuary's main theater into an extra overflow area nextdoor.
It was incredibly interesting to see the imaginations of the five high school students ignited by the science of hunting for ships and to experience vicariously the discovery of the two ships right along with them. It was clear that their involvement in the project also opened them up to the possibilities of future careers in the field.
According to sanctuary Superintendant Jeff Gray, about 80 people participated in the finding of the ships and the making of the documentary, including scientists and technicians from all over the world - right here in little old Alpena! The sanctuary is such a boon for Northeast Michigan because it has a significant economic impact of drawing thousands of tourists each year, because it puts us in the national spotlight through documentaries like "Project Shiphunt," because it celebrates our maritime heritage and because it makes science come alive. We are indeed fortunate.
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