NOAA Believes There Are Over 300 Shipwrecks in the Gulf of the Farallones in California
by Owen James Burke
Above: The Fulmar’s ROV, Phantom HD2 (Photo: NOAA)
During a survey of the nearly 1,300-square-mile Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuary, researchers aboard the research vessel Fulmar have discovered and begun to study more than 12 different sites believed to contain shipwrecks, and believe there may be more than 300 of them.
Part of a long-term archaeological survey, NOAA was surveying the treacherous waters around San Francisco where ships have met their fates in the wind-tortured, fog-ridden waters at the mouth of the Golden Gate, which began welcoming throngs of merchant ships after the Gold Rush.
“The Gulf of the Farallones is a graveyard of ships,” said James Delgado, NOAA’s maritime heritage director. “Every one of these accidents, every one of these sinkings, has its own dramatic story to tell.”
The first vessel, the Noonday, was found in about 300 feet of water using an ROV and sonar. The 19th century clipper ship had struck rocks near the Farallones while transporting railroad tracks and other cargo from Boston in 1863. The ship was completely covered in sediment, and could not quite be seen, but the sonar clearly revealed her outline and that she was there.
Off Point Reyes, the team found a 380-foot steamship from China, the SS Selja, which sank in 1910 after a collision with another ship, the SS Beaver. Two Chinese hands were lost, but the rest were rescued. The Selja, however, lies with her hull broken in many places, suggesting she met a rather horrific, or at least unpleasant demise.
NOAA will continue its survey, and it should be no surprise if in the near future we learn a great deal more about the history and ships that make up the post-Gold Rush graveyard at the mouth of the Golden Gate.
Read more at the AP — OB