Shipwrecks discovered at Papahanaumokuakea

Kelly Gleason
Kelly Gleason

By Stephanie Lum - bio | email

PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA (KHNL) - A long trip out to sea ends with exciting discoveries in the remote Papahanaumokuakea marine national monument. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers say conditions were just right for them to access atolls they've never been able to fully explore.

Back from a 29 day voyage, NOAA researchers are back on land with stories of their amazing finds.

"It was a really amazing expedition and it was incredibly successful," said Maritime Archeologist Kelly Gleason.

The team makes two discoveries at Papahanumokuakea. Divers in search of artifacts from shipwreck sites find an iron ballast and then, the deck of the British whaling ship "The Gledstanes" which wrecked at Kure Atoll in 1837.

Later, more excitement for the team at the French Frigate Shoals.

"Just a few minutes of diving, we came across a historic anchor which was really exciting," said Gleason.

It turned out to be a second sunken vessel but it's identity remains a mystery.

Five whaling shipwreck sites have been discovered in the monument. It's possible ten sunk in the area.

"So what we'll do is we document site by photo, video and measurements on the sea floor and take that information back with us and try to put the pieces of this puzzle back together," said Gleason.

Researchers also tagged tiger and galapagos sharks with acoustic monitoring devices to learn more about their movement patterns around monk seal pupping sites.

Another highlight in their expedition; coral reefs continue to thrive and remain healthy in Papahanaumokuakea, the largest marine conservation area in the world.