Researching Wrecks

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 3:16pm

Divers study World War II era shipwrecks to help prevent pollution.

Anyone who has gone on a shipwreck dive will tell you it is something special.

"It has an awe of history and it's the adventure of trying to relive those days," said Skip Commagere.

Commagere owns Force E SCUBA Centers and regularly leads tours of shipwreck sites.

These divers may be looking at the history; however, scientists are concerned with the future, namely preventing oil spills.

They’re looking at eight shipwrecks in Florida, including two in our area: the W.D. Anderson, an American steamer sunk by a U-boat on February 23, 1942, 12 miles northeast of Jupiter Lighthouse.

The other shipwreck is the Halsey, another American steamer, that met its fate with a U-boat May 6th, 1942, off Jupiter Inlet.

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hoping the divers and fishing charters that visit sites like these may have a wealth of information and will share what they know.

"In the past, we've had recreational divers reach out to us and let us know about the status of vessels we weren't able to get current information on or that may not necessarily have a lot of information on the web," explained Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Resource Protection Coordinator Lisa Simons.

Commagere said he's never seen a spill at a shipwreck and doubts anyone would see one from a World War II era ship.

"If you think about it logically,” he said, “they've been down there since the early 40s, 65-plus years ago. There hasn't been a problem in those 65 years that has caused a problem on the beach.”

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries will give the information it collects to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard can look closer at the wreck sites to see if there are any leads and if any cleanup needs to be done.

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