In the past days of isolation due to the pandemic, in which nature seemed to reborn thanks to the mandatory stop of the human activities, a few pictures started circulating on the internet about waters that all of a sudden came back to be see through as well as animals which took back their spaces until then used by mankind.
The pictures of the wrecks easily visible on the seabed of Lake Michigan in the US, could be snaps of these days, for its transparency. But instead they date back to 2015, even though they are proof of a rare event of clearness of the waters, not exactly common.
A patrol of the Coast Guard took some pictures in an evident Spring day, above a lake extremely clear. And if spotting wrecks from the sky is rather common, for Captain Charlie Wilson it is not “in the numbers we have seen on that flight”.
Two unidentified wrecks
In the picture two wrecks are visible, one on the lower right, slightly noticeable, and one on the upper left, more clear.
Lake Michigan has its water so transparent only during Spring, when the layer of ice that covers it during Winter time melts down, as well as before the heat makes the algae bloom, fed also by the unloading of substances from agricultural activities.
In Traverse City, Michigan, there is Cross Guard Air Station which regularly inspect the lake with their helicopters. The pictures, published on their Facebook page, have been taken over an area called “Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve”, one of the richest areas of submerged wrecks in the state of Michigan.
That part of lake was frequented by ships carrying wood, as the Manitou Islands were guaranteeing covered areas during storms.
A dangerous lake the Michigan one if the State Department’s Office of Environmental Quality estimated that “6,000 ships went lost in the Great lakes, with approximately 1,500 of those ships being in the Michigan waters”.
Wreck of the James Mc Bride’s brigantine
Just 2 out of 5 wrecks photographed by the Coast Guard have been identified. It was the a brigantine, the James McBride laying at a depth ranging between 1.5 and 4.5 m (5 to 14.7 ft), depending on the water level on the lake. It sank on the 19th October 1857 during a storm while transporting a load of wood.
The Rising Sun Shipwreck
Another shipwreck was the one of the Rising Sun, steamship which got stuck during a snowstorm on the 29th October 1917. On the ship there were probably many farmers that were heading South to the coasts to sell their products. The crew and all its passengers, apart from one, managed to reach the shore. When the Coast Guards got on the ship the following day they found an old man who had slept all along.
The underwater reserve of Manitou Passage is the favourite place of those scuba divers who love to dive in looking for old wrecks, which in the cold Lake Michigan do not decay quickly: the freshwater and their low temperatures contribute to the preservation of those old ships, sank in a lake that sometimes turns into a stormy sea.
Storm waves on Lake Michigan with Chicago on the background
Above: picture by Pedco via Wikipedia – licence CC BY-SA 3.0
All pictures of the wrecks are property of the US Cross Guard Air Station Traverse City