Aerial photos recently taken of Lake Michigan show there’s more to the North American lake than meets the eye. As the winter’s ice cover has melted, the clear, turquoise waters have revealed several shipwrecks scattered across the lakebed that are normally obscured by the water’s murky surface. Some of the vessels date to the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, Michigan Live reported.
The images, which have been widely circulated online, were captured Friday, said a U.S. Coast Guard Facebook post that included six images of the wrecks. Among the ships spotted by a helicopter crew from Traverse City, Michigan, were the 121-foot-long James McBride, a cargo ship launched in 1848 that became known as the first brig to make a delivery directly from the Atlantic Ocean to a Lake Michigan port. The ship sank in 1857 after striking ground near Sleeping Bear Dune during high winds. Its remains just 5 feet below the water’s surface.
Another vessel, the Rising Sun, was among the shipwrecks photographed over the weekend. The 133-foot wooden steamer became stranded near Pyramid Point in 1917.
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A helicopter crew snapped the photos during a routine patrol, the Coast Guard’s Facebook page said. “These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan, up to Northport,” one post reads. “Information on the shipwrecks is scarce, please post if you recognize any of the photographed sites.”
Many of the shipwrecks lie within the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, a portion of Lake Michigan frequented by commercial vessels. The area is known for its history of freighter wrecks.
Such shipwrecks are not always visible because of winds, waves and beach erosion, the Associated Press reported. The shipwrecks cannot be legally disturbed because they’re considered public property. Dive operators allow visitors to explore some of the sites underwater.