Underwater Research

Underwater Research

Aerial view of R.V. David Boyd with ROV deployed

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society owns and operates the professional underwater research vessel R.V. David Boyd. This 47-foot survey vessel is equipped with twin 692 Detroit Diesels and a Phantom S4 Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) capable of diving to depths of 1,400 feet. The Boyd is also equipped with the latest Marine Sonics Dual Frequency SideScan Sonar, digital u/w imaging equipment, digital interface surface recording technology, and navigational gear. The David Boyd carries a crew of at least three experienced seamen.

The Boyd’s primary mission is to research and document historic shipwrecks of Lake Superior. The Boyd also assists federal, state, and local law enforcement or environmental agencies as required.  The vessel and crew have successfully participated in numerous search and recovery missions.

Underwater Exploration

The Shipwreck Society’s R.V. David Boyd prepares to leave Whitefish Point Harbor for a midsummer research expedition

The Great Lakes – the largest bodies of fresh water in the world – are a vast resource for biologists, zoologists, historians, and humanitarians. While the Lakes contain many secrets yet to be discovered, we know now that invasive species as zebra mussels and quagga mussels are very harmful to their delicate ecosystem, and to their shipwrecks. Great Lakes shipwrecks do not become encrusted with the marine growth found on shipwrecks lost in sea water – but they do become encrusted with these invasive species.

Great Lakes Shipwrecks are underwater cultural resources vital to our study. The proliferation of invasive species has now created a time deadline for our generation and for future generations; many shipwrecks have already had so many of their features corrupted by mussels that they have become impossible to study.

One of the primary missions of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society is to locate, identify, and document historic Great Lakes Shipwrecks, with an emphasis on Lake Superior, before they are lost to these invaders. Please click here to view information about our latest documentation project.

The Shipwreck Society actively supports efforts by Lake Superior State University to study Great Lakes biology with underwater sensing equipment found on the Society’s R.V. David Boyd.

Photo by Cris Kohl, copyright Seawolf Communications, Inc.

Wreck of the Conemaugh in Lake Erie, image taken 1988










Photo by Cris Kohl, copyright Seawolf Communications, Inc.

The same piece of machinery on the wreck of the Conemaugh, taken after zebra mussels infested the wreck in 1989


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Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum - Whitefish Point 18335 N. Whitefish Point Road, Paradise, MI 49768 888-492-3747 Contact Us