Welcome to the
West Coast National Marine Sanctuary Shipwreck Database. The Channel
Islands National Marine Sanctuary has been working in partnership
with the BRIDGE to provide
teachers and students with an online educational activity to learn
more about important shipwrecks found within the 5 national marine
sanctuaries (Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, Gulf of
the Farallones and Olympic Coast) on the West Coast of the United
States. The idea for this Shipwreck Database and the associated activities
sprung from a collaborative effort with the Bridge to create a Data
Tip of the Month highlighting our National Marine Sanctuary System.
We wish to acknowledge the input from Bridge staff in developing this
resource. We are pleased that our efforts to produce a special feature
have resulted in the synthesis of much valuable information and the
creation of a permanent database for your use.
data tip activity contains the following components:
tables containing 30 shipwrecks from each of the West Coast sanctuaries
charts for each sanctuary
reports and images from selected shipwrecks
Data Exercise where you can plot the shipwrecks in each sanctuary
related to shipwrecks in each sanctuary
Data Tip Exercises
This exercise uses
a West Coast Shipwreck Database containing
120 shipwrecks, representing 30 shipwrecks per sanctuary region. This
database does not reflect every shipwreck in each of the sanctuaries,
but provides a historic sampling. Divide your class into four groups
and assign each group a different sanctuary (Gulf of the Farallones
and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries will be grouped together).
Have students read the background information section and specific
information about their assigned sanctuary. In the first part of this
exercise your students become shipwreck detectives, and they will
use latitude and longitude to plot the location of each shipwreck
in their assigned sanctuaries. In the second part of this exercise
your students become shipwreck historians, and they will answer questions
about the shipwrecks in their assigned sanctuaries. In order to answer
the questions, they will need to study the individual shipwreck historical
reports that are linked to the data tables (click on the ship's name).
The General Shipwreck Questions are for those who are enthusiastic
enough to study the entire database.
It will be easiest
for your students to study the individual historical reports if you
have printed them out ahead of time and made copies. In each sanctuary's
database, click on the name of the ship to access the historical report.
In some cases, a report may contain another link to an image with
more information; be sure to print out that information also.
Since the dawn
of history, humans have found ways to traverse lakes, rivers and oceans
to conquer territory, conduct trade and commerce, and exchange languages,
ideas and technologies. Throughout history, boats and ships have literally
been vessels of culture and applied science. In the unpredictable
conditions of the ocean, many of these vessels have been blown off
course, collided with rocks or simply vanished beneath the waves.
Each of these represents a time capsule, every vessel a miniature
version of the society that launched it. Each vessel reflects construction
techniques of the day, materials that were available to shipbuilders
and the ideas about engineering as it was practiced in that time.
Aboard every vessel lived a tiny society mirroring the social order
of its nation or culture - officers and aristocrats, sailors and servants.
With these small societies were the everyday objects of life - combs,
cooking pots, clothing and currency. Deep within the vessel were its
cargoes - earthenware vessels filled with olive oil, gold from distant
mines or industrial products from one country's factories - en route
to being bartered or sold.
represent human stories of the highest imaginable drama. Great acts
of courage, senseless tragedy, human nature at its best and worst
all emerge from historical accounts and the stories that survive a
broken ship. The heroism of a captain, the greed of a stingy shipowner,
the stupidity of a watchman all find their ways into the written and
verbal accounts of shipwrecks. Shipwrecks are remembered in the towns
of lost mariners and in the towns where survivors received care. Shipwreck
artifacts adorn local museums, treasured objects that symbolize a
community's place in history. Families recount their roles in a rescue
for generations. The timeline of many coastal communities is punctuated
by the dates of shipwrecks nearby. Over time, the shipwrecks become
everyone's history, just as the sea belongs to all.
the imagination like finding part of a shipwreck. A rusty metal fitting
on a lonely stretch of beach can haunt us with many unknowns. What
was this ship? Who survived the tragedy and who was lost? Where was
it from and where was it going? What was it carrying? And more intriguing:
what caused its sad end?
shipwrecks is important work for archeologists, historians, and
all kinds of people who live near the coast. Scholars use shipwrecks
to understand the past. People in coastal communities see shipwrecks
as important historical events in their area. People whose job it
is to protect marine sanctuaries see shipwrecks as important lessons
in how currents, weather, technology and human error can combine in
ways that can damage the environment.
us that the ocean is, after all, a wild and unpredictable place. Here
forces that we cannot measure combine and can easily overpower anything
that humans can build. Until this century, existing charts
were incomplete and sometimes misleading. Before lighthouses, buoys
and other navigational aids were developed in the 1850s, sailors relied
on the stars and the sun for navigation.
Advances in communication, systems of powering vessels, navigation
tug assists, helicopter rescue and many other modern technologies
have greatly reduced the risks of a shipwreck, but human error still
remains a critical factor in maritime accidents. Today, most ships
carry enough oil for fuel to cause major damage to wildlife and coastal
habitats. Many ships carry other containers of hazardous cargoes so
toxic that they could foul coastal ecosystems for decades. To protect
the marine environment, we must understand the causes of shipwrecks
and how to avoid them. The next time you find a piece of rusting iron
on a remote beach, consider its meaning. What stories could it tell?
And what warnings does it sound?
General Shipwreck Questions:
at least six geographic locations that were named for ships that
wrecked at the sites.
the four shipwrecks that carried cargoes for America's railway expansion.
shipwrecks are sister-ships and were lost in different sanctuaries;
can you name the ships?
the late 19th century what government agency was responsible for
providing assists to shipwreck victims in the OCNMS and GFNMS?
Name two vessels built to carry liquid cargoes that shipwrecked
in two different sanctuaries. Had their tanks been loaded, potential
impacts on the marine environment would have been disastrous.
Check your answers
on our Answer Page