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A Needle in a Haystack
Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2019. Download larger version (mp4, 218.7 MB).

During the Windows to the Deep 2019 expedition, we had identified several sonar anomalies to further explore as potential shipwreck sites. Finding wrecks on the seafloor is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack – historical research as to where, when, and why a ship may have sunk helps us to better target the search area and then follow-up seafloor mapping allows us to further pinpoint potential targets...but it isn't until we can visually survey a site that we can know for sure if we've found something of archaeological significance.

And even with advance research and data collection, we don't always find what we are looking for (for example, during Dive 07 of this expedition, a potential shipwreck target turned out to be a series of rocky outcrops); however, when we do find a shipwreck, the discovery can provide insights into U.S. maritime history and help us to characterize change in both the wreck and the biological communities it may support over time.