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Isle Royale National Park - Keweenaw County MI


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Isle Royale offers exciting scuba diving opportunities. Here the cold waters of Lake Superior maintains a variety of shipwrecks in outstanding condition for exploration and photography. These sunken vessels are protected by the National Park Service as cultural treasures to be enjoyed by you, the experienced scuba diver. In order to preserve fragile natural and cultural resources, areas such as the inland lakes, all land-associated underwater cultural sites, and the Passage Island small boat cove are closed to diving.

Weather
Lake Superior’s rough weather is well known. Follow forecasts given regularly over marine radio and keep a least one person aboard your boat whenever divers are in the water.

Temperature
Water is cold at all times. At the surface, water temperature rarely reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 50 feet, divers can expect 34-37 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. Protect yourself; a full wet suit is necessary and a dry suit is recommended.

Air Tanks
There are no facilities for filling dive cylinders at Isle Royale. Personal compressor use is limited to designated locations and times. Once at Isle Royale, your dive permit lists regulations on compressor use.

Exploring Shipwrecks
Divers on shipwrecks can become lost in a maze of confined passages or entangled in debris, wire, and line. Darkness and silt found within wrecks can reduce visibility to zero. We recommend proper training and equipment for diving the wrecks found within the cold and often deep waters of Lake Superior.

Decompression
Cold, dark surroundings and excitement increase possibility of a decompression problem. DON’T PUSH THE STANDARD SPORT OR RECREATIONAL DIVE TABLES. Divers at Isle Royale should dive within the “no-decompression” limits. Deep dives require specific equipment and experience. Divers not so equipped or experienced for depths below 100 feet should not attempt such dives.

Illness
Diving-related illnesses, especially those requiring a recompression chamber, pose a severe threat to the life of any diver. The closest decompression chamber is in Marquette, Michigan. Diving parties should be knowledgeable in CPR and emergency procedures for accidents. Carry an adequate first-aid kit including an oxygen delivery system and know how to use them.

Emergencies
At the first indication of a diving illness, contact a ranger on marine radio (channel 16) or in person. Do not wait to confirm that there is a problem. Isle Royale National Park maintains procedures for treatment and evacuation of accident victims. An NPS diving team can be activated for search and rescue operations.

Divers must register at Houghton, Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers before diving, and return your completed copy of the registration form after your trip to a visitor center or by mail. Your diving registration helps us manage underwater sites. Canadian vessels and divers must clear customs when they enter the park.

Shipwrecks Conservation
Shipwrecks are part of the park’s cultural resources. Help us to preserve them. Federal law prohibits the removal or disturbance in any manner of underwater culture sites and associated artifacts. This includes shipwrecks or remains of ships, as well as other antiquities on the bottom lands of waters in Isle Royale National Park. Penalties include prison sentences and fines up to $10,000. Rewards up to $500 may be paid to anyone who furnishes information that leads to conviction of a criminal violation. Spear guns of any kind are prohibited.

Dive Flag
Dive sites or boats must be marked with the standard diving flag (white diagonal stripe on a red background) or alpha flag, whenever divers are in the water.

Moorings
Nine shipwreck sites are buoyed to provide a safe mooring and protect the wrecks from anchor/ tie-off damage. These secure moorings are marked by a white buoy with a blue stripe. Mooring buoys are to be used only by registered divers during actual dive operations. No more than two dive boats may use a mooring at any given time. When a mooring is provided, do not tie off or anchor. When no mooring is provided, use a diver to tie-off to a stable piece of wreckage. Do not anchor in a wreck.

Algoma
(Passenger Steamer)
Background Data: 262 feet in length; built in 1813; sunk in 1885. Location: Southeast shore of Mott Island. Depth of Stern: Minimum 10 feet; maximum 100+ feet. Features: the ship broke in half, and parts of the stern are all that remain. Wreckage is widely scattered with no major sections intact. Bow section not yet located. Buoy on a sinker in 50 feet.

Cumberland
(Passenger Steamer)
Background Data: 204 feet in length; built in 1871; sunk in 1877. Location: Near Rock of Ages Light. Depth: Minimum 20 feet; maximum 80 feet. Features: Large sections of wooden hull, side-wheel and boiler remain. Wreckage is intermingled with wooden remains of Chisholm hull. Buoy on a sinker in 35 feet.

Glenlyon
(Bulk Freighter)
Background Data: 328 feet in length; built in 1893; sunk in 1924. Location: Glenlyon Shoals off Menagerie Island in Siskiwit Bay. Depth: Minimum 15 feet; maximum 60 feet. Features: The wreck is scattered over the reef with a few large sections still intact. The drive shaft, propeller, engine, boilers, and some cabin wreckage offer easy exploring. Buoy attached to a piece of wreckage at 40 feet.

America
(Package Freighter)
Background data: 183 feet in length; built in 1898; sunk in 1928. Location: North Gap of Washington Harbor. Depth: Minimum 2 feet; maximum 80 feet. Features: The forward part of the superstructure has been removed by ice, wave action, and a past salvage operation. The midship and stern are intact, including engine room, galley, and numerous cabins. Watch out for silt entanglement, and visibility problems inside the America. Two point mooring with a buoy on a sinker in 20 feet and a marker buoy on the bow in 2 feet. The shipwreck America is closed for diving between 12 noon and 2:00pm EDT, to allow ferry passengers to view the wreck.

Chester Congdon
(Bulk Freighter)
Background Data: 532 feet in length; built in 1907; sunk in 1918. Location: Congdon Shoals on northeast end of Isle Royale. Depth: 60-200 feet on stern, 50-120- feet on bow, minimum 10 feet on reef. Features: Wreckage consists of intact pilot house and bow section on south side of reef and an intact stern on north side. Much scattered wreckage is found on the reef between these major sections. Buoy on bow, attached at stern in 65 feet.

Emperor
(Bulk Freighter)
Background Data: 525 feet in length; built in 1910; sunk in 1947. Location: North side of Canoe Rocks, on the northeast end of Isle Royale. Depth: Minimum 25 feet; maximum 175 feet. Features: The wreck is basically intact, with the bow area showing most damage. Stern area features an intact mast rudder/prop, engine room, and numerous cabins. Buoy on bow attached at stern in 25 feet; buoy on stern attached on deck at 100 feet.

George M. Cox
(Passenger Steamer)
Background Data: 259 feet in length; built in 1901; sunk in 1933. Location: Near Rock of Ages Light. Depth: Minimum 10 feet; maximum 100 feet. Features: Scattered wreckage, twisted steel plating, and exposed machinery and prop. Buoy attached to boiler in 45 feet.

Henry Chisholm
(Bulk Freighter)
Background Data: 265 feet in length; built in 1880; sunk in 1898. Location: Near Rock of Ages Lighthouse. Depth: Minimum 125 feet; maximum 150+ feet. Features: A large intact steam engine with drive shaft and prop dominate the scene. Buoy attached to engine at 125 feet. Large sections of wooden hull are scattered amongst the remains of Cumberland.

Kamloops
(Package Freighter)
Background Data: 250 feet in length; built in 1924; sunk in 1927. Location: Kamloops Point. Depth: Minimum 175 feet; maximum 260 feet. Features: Intact and undisturbed. Diving not advised because of extreme depth. Not buoyed.

Monarch
(Package Freighter)
Background Data: 240 feet long; built in 1890; sunk in 1906. Location: Palisade area on the north side of Blake Point. Depth: Minimum 10 feet; maximum 80+ feet. Features: Large sections of wooden wreckage scattered on the bottom. Noted for heavy construction. Buoy on a sinker in 65 feet.

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