Originally published @ Scuba Scoop on April 28, 2011.
Caroline Rose schooner::::Bruce Peninsula National Marine Park @ Tobermory
The Great Lakes, due to their size and nasty winter storms, house a good number of unfortunate ships in their depths. Remember the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Gordon Lightfoot) in Lake Superior. Well, Lake Huron is no exception. And with the establishment of Fathom Five National Marine Park over 20 years ago, the wrecks are protected. Also with the absence of the boring worms found in salt water, these wooden wrecks have held up very well.
There are over 20 preserved Schooners, Steamers and Barges buried beneath the waves – . some dating back as early as 1852. For the divers interested in underwater geology, there is the famous flowerpot formations and underwater caves that are seen within the park. Further out – towards Manitoulin Island, can be found a submerged waterfall that marks some of the past history of the lakes during the Ice Age.
In 110 feet of water off Echo Island lie the remains of the Barque Arabia. The masts lie broken and scattered but the bowsprit still reaches gracefully forward. Severe fall weather has left ships like the 213 foot steamer, W.L. Wetmore, laying 30 feet under the water’s surface. Whether diving or snorkeling, the remains of the Wetmore provide excellent recreational opportunities. Swim over the massive timbers and explore the huge boiler which reaches within 10 feet of the lake’s surface. Then follow the trail of chain that leads to the anchor now resting among the rocks and debris off Russel Island.
One of the more interesting wrecks occurred when the 216 foot steamer Forest City was navigating in heavy fog on June 5, 1904. The intended course was between Flowerpot and Bears Rump Islands, but due to the fog she came to a brutally abrupt halt when the forward bow contacted the cliff on the northeast shore of Bears Rump. With the ship stuck fast the crew was rescued by the tug Joe Milton and for several weeks every effort was made to salvage the ship. Filling with water she finally tore lose from the bow plating stuck in the rocks and slid beneath the waves. The Forest City lies in 60 feet to 150 feet of water with the stern still intact. The bow plating is still jammed in the rocks.
Explore an area where submerged forests, canyons and underwater waterfalls date back to a time before modern man. View the remains of ancient coral in this once tropical sea or watch the modern inhabitants, crawfish, bass and sculpin as they go about their daily business.
Another “hotspot” for scuba diving is within the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Located just one kilometre from the day-parking area, is the beautiful Indian Head Cove and the infamous ‘Grotto’, where visitors will discover a huge cave formation with a deep pool of Georgian Bay water as its floor. The Grotto, is a popular site to see underwater caves, boulder fields and other geological wonders.
Some of the other locations around the Bruce Peninsula that offer great scuba diving experiences include Wiarton, boasting at least three shore dives and a petrified forest off the coast, Dyer’s Bay featuring an enclosed bay and Cabot Head offering a contemplative diver a peaceful and less crowded place to dive.