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 Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society

Dedicated to Preserving our Shipwrecks and Maritime History
"From Prevention to Preservation"

News Stories

2015 - Wilson/Mayflower - Closing Report

Phil Kerber | Published on 10/4/2015
Closing Report:

On the weekend of September 26 27, the GLSPS sponsored another project that allowed us to monitor the mussel concentration on the shipwreck Thomas Wilson. This year, we were able to welcome a special guest. We were honored to have aboard the GLSPS research vessel RV Preservation a U of M Professor Michael McCartney and his wife Monica. Michael is from the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. He contacted us to find out if we could collect a few mussels for him to bring back to the research center to study the little critters.

The crew aboard the vessel was Captain Phil Kerber, Project Leader Tim Pranke, and GLSPS volunteers Jack Decker, and Bill Wallace.

Keeping to our planned schedule the crew headed out into the lake in a dense fog, wondering what effects the very wet fall and two weeks of Northeast winds would do to the 1902 shipwreck site of the whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson (1892). With the forbidden brown water, the divers entered the water and descended, only to be greeted with a dim 25foot visibility. As Tim and Bill starting counting the mussels, Jack was swimming around and collecting mussel samples for the Professor's research. The University is studying Zebra mussel genetics and tracks their movements. The ultimate goal of Michael’s research is to gain as much knowledge he can in hope to reverse the spread of the little critters. Perhaps he could even find a way to eliminate them from our waters.

Saturday evening the crew docked the RV Preservation for an overnight stay at Barkers Island Marina courtesy dock. (Thank you Eric)! After arriving we cleaned up and participated in the evening festivities at Mc Dougall's Dream Fund Raiser Dinner and Silent Auction in Superior Wisconsin. The fund raiser is for the SS Meteor (Frank Rockefeller, 1896), the Wilson’s big sister. The awesome part of this day is that it is rare to be able to visit two whaleback freighters in one day.

Sunday, the decision was to wait for the pea soup fog to lift before heading out into the lake. With the sun making an appearance, the underwater visibility was increased to 30 feet on the bottom. But all too soon, it was time to weigh anchor and head back to the Spirit Lake Marina.

For the second planed project on October 2nd and 3rd, Old Mother Superior was not so kind. With a true fall Nor'easter blowing, it was still hard to come to terms with the loss of our diving. I would like to thank Jim Christenson and Corey Danial for making the attempt. The crew still had an enjoyable time taking in the scenes of the Twin Ports from the land lubber side.

While we were limited in the data collected, it shows a leveling to slight decrease in the mussel population on the wreck of the Thomas Wilson. Only further monitoring and research will tell.

The GLSPS would like to thank all the volunteers who made this project possible and a Thank You to Barkers Island Marina for the overnight docking. We would like to invite any member who is comfortable in cold, low visibility diving to sign up for this fascinating project next year.