While efforts are still underway to create the Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary from Sheboygan County up to Manitowoc County, shipwrecks outside of the proposed 1100-square mile preserve, like those in Door and Kewaunee County waters, are protected by state law. Door County Maritime Museum Curator Rhys Kuzdas says Wisconsin, and other Great Lakes States, consider such wrecks to be underwater historical sites.
Kuzdas says the attraction of establishing a national marine sanctuary is to offer additional resources to protect wrecks.
Kuzdas says even though shipwrecks are considered archaeological sites they can be destroyed under certain circumstances. Those include the need to extract oil or other mineral resources on the site. Before extraction work can begin, however, marine archaeologists remove as many historical artifacts before dredging starts.
(Photo from NOAA)