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Saginaw Students Search For Shipwrecks With High Tech Tools

Five students from Saginaw Arthur Hill High School have spent the last week searching for shipwrecks in and around Lake Huron's Thunder Bay, part of a program sponsored by Sony, Intel and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Project Shiphunt "is focused solely on Thunder Bay and very specifically with five exceptional young people who were tasked with searching for shipwrecks," said James Delgado, director of the NOAA's Director of Maritime Heritage.

"The area around Thunder Bay is a bad spot in the road when it comes to shipwrecks," said Delgado, who before joining NOAA last year was president and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology. "The Lakes were highways of commerce, trade and immigration between the 1830s and the 1930s, and hundreds of ships were lost there because of fogs, collisions, fires and storms. More than 100 shipwrecks have been found within the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary, and more than 100 ships have yet to be found that historical records suggest should be out there."

After winning a Sony-Intel contest, Delgado said the Saginaw Arthur Hill students "have been equipped with historical information and given access to a team of scientists with NOAA... to survey the bottom of the lake with multibeam and side scanning sonar, and if a target is found, drop down with either divers or a robot on a tether to investigate."

Also, Delgado said, "Sony is providing them the equipment with which to search, working with Intel ... Vaio laptops and Sony cameras on the research ship Laurentian."

Delgado noted with a chuckle that "when I got started in this field 33 years ago we did all this by hand."

Delgado said the students "have seen ships down there. The question of what those ships are and who they represent remains to be resolved ... They started within the sanctuary, then moved to areas outside sanctuary where a number of vessels were known to have come to grief."

"It's an experience every kid should have," said student team member Cody Frost about Project Shiphunt.  "It shows me that a 17 year-old from Saginaw can make a difference."

The sanctuary off Alpena protects one of the nation's most historically significant collections of shipwrecks. According to sanctuary superintendent Jeff Gray, the project is an exciting opportunity to explore and better understand the Great Lakes.

"This research will help us protect the Great Lakes and their rich history for future generations," Gray said. "It is also an extraordinary opportunity to inspire the next generation of explorers and introduce them to technology and experiences that could shape their futures."

Sony and Intel are joint sponsors of the project and donated Sony Vaio laptops powered by second-generation Intel Core processors to the team. The team used  their Vaios to collect and process the incredible amounts of data that will help them make a 3-D map of the lake floor.

More at -- where you can try the Oceans of Treasure game, a virtual search to be part of the adventure and also a chance to win your own Sony prizes.

More about the sanctuary at, and more about the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries at

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