The Alger Underwater Diving Preserve at Munising was the first preserve established in Michigan, and is one of the most popular scuba diving areas in the Great Lakes.
This Underwater Preserve offers several unusual diving attractions including seacaves, intact shipwrecks, and underwater interpretive trails. The sea caves are actually portions of underwater sandstone cliffs where sandstone has been eroded by waves. Although the caves are shallow,usually only about 20 feet deep, they offer spectacular shallow water diving.
The Alger Preserve is located on the south shore of Lake Superior near the diver-friendly city of Munising in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This area of Lake Superior's shoreline includes the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and offers many scenic attractions to visiting divers. Magnificent waterfalls, sand dunes, and hiking trails are all just a short distance from town. Divers visiting the Alger Preserve are served by Shipwreck Diving Tours, Captain Peter Lindquist, a licensed charter operators with air stations and a well stocked sources of rental equipment. A public launch ramp and fuel pumps are available. Major dive sites are buoyed throughout the season.
Many of the wreck sites located within the Alger Preserve are protected from Superior's temperment by Grand Island. Very seldom are dive trips cancelled because of the weather. Underwater visibility in the Alger Preserve is considered to be among the best in the Midwest. Thirty feet at depth of one hundred feet is not uncommon. Mooring buoys and descent lines at all primary dive sites, wrecks in safe diving depths, and an emergency evacuation plan all contribute to making the Alger Preserve a safe place to dive.
PRIMARY DIVE SITES
The BERMUDA, a 150 foor wooden schooler that sank in the spring of 1870 in Murray Bay on Grand Island, is a very popular dive site for both beginners and advanced divers. Although this wreck lies in only 30 feet of water, it is protected from ice and wave damage by Grand Island. Her top deck is only 12' below the water's surface where she has remained for 128 years. The result is an intact 145 foot wooden schooner sitting upright and waiting for visitors. The Bermuda had three hatches giving access to the cargo hold, as well as two companionways and the large cabin trunk near the stern. An underwater interpretive trail on this 1880's shipwreck shows divers important features of the shipwreck as well as unusual fish and other aquatic life. Divers can expect to have close encounters with schools of rock bass and other colorful gamefish.
The SMITH MOORE, a 260-foot three masted wooden steamer which sank in the Munising East Channel,July 13, 1889 as the result of damages suffered in a collision. Resting intact in about 100 feet of water with visibility of 20-40 feet. Divers with intermediate to advanced skills will enjoy this wreck. Divers have easy access to some portions of the interior of the vessel through open hatches. The wreck lies nearly intact on the sand bottom. The deck is at 80 feet and divers will find much machinery as well as schools of gamefish at this site.
The MANHATTAN, a wood hulled freighter which sank Oct. 26, 1903. Now in 20-40 foot depths off the east shore of Grand Island. Divers can visit a large portion of the steamer's hull framing. The vessel's enormous rudder, with its depth markings still visible, lies nearby.
The HERMAN HETTLER, a 235-foot wooden steamer wrecked in Nov. 1926 when she was seeking shelter in Munising Harbor and slammed into a reef. Located in 30-40 foot depths of outstanding visibility. On the inner edge of the reef where the Hetler struck, her boiler can be found in about 25' of water, along with part of her hull, and a field of debris such as mechanical parts, tanks, piping, and even a bathtub.
The SUPERIOR, a sidewheel passenger and package freight steamer launched in 1845, that foundered off Pictured Rocks, Oct. 29,1856. The oldest known wreck in the area, she is in 10-20 feet of water.
The KIOWA, a grain carrying 251-foot steel bulk freight steamer, was hit by a gale in Nov. 1929. The Kiowa is located at 20-40 foot depths. On a clear day the huge sections of hull are easily visible from the surface. The stern of the wreck lies on its port side. Here the diver can see the steamer's steering quadrant and emergency steering gear. A short distance forward, an enclosed ladderway leads down toward the propeller shaft tunnel. At the forward end of the tunnel, the propeller shaft and its massive thrust bearing can be seen.
The STEVEN M. SELVICK, a steel tug, 71 feet in length was intentionally sunk off Trout Point in May of 1996 in the Alger Underwater Preserve. She resisted sinking and water had to be pumped into her engine room. The Selvik then went down with her whistles blowing. She is totally intact in 60 ft. of water and rises to within 30 ft. of the surface, making this a great dive for beginners to experts. Divers have access to all areas of the tug. The pilothouse, galley, mess room, engine room, and crew quarters can all be penetrated. The tug was donated to the Alger Preserve by Selvick Marine of Sturgeon Bay, WI.
Capt. Peter Lindquist of Shipwreck Diving Tours was responsible, in large part, for adding the Steven M. Selvick to the Alger Underwater Diving Preserve.
Other unusual and interesting dive sites include: Cathedral Caves, Miners Castle, Ferry Dock Landing Drop-off, Pancake Rocks and the dock ruins off shore from the Munising High School. These dive sites offer unique rock formations, caves (usually inhabited by large fish) and multicolored rocks with an amazing reflection of light.
In 1988, the Department of Natural Resources declared the Alger area at Munising an Underwater Preserve and enacted laws protecting what is left of the shipwrecks and other underwater natural resources. It is against the law to remove any artifact from the underwater preserve.
For more information on the Alger Preserve, contact
Alger County Chamber of Commerce
Captain Peter Lindquist of Shipwreck
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