Shipwreck group offers tours and training

14 Apr 2014

There are thousands of shipwrecks around the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. By one estimate, there are at least 8,000. As the first place in North America reached by Europeans during the age of exploration, the rugged coast here has had centuries to ring up its toll of ships and lives lost.

Many of the oldest wooden wrecks are all but gone, leaving traces of iron or a rusty canon or simply the rocks on board for ballast. In colder waters, such as those off Labrador, the process of decay is much slower. A whale oil transport that sank in the 1560s was found at Red Bay harbour in the 1970s, and remains there today, preserved in the cold water. Even iron ships eventually crumble.

Every wreck has a story. Some were crushed in ice; some went aground in a storm or when it was foggy; some were sunk deliberately; some were torpedoed during war; and some simply vanished. Many were fishing boats, some were whalers, some were ferries, and many more were transport ships of various makes and designs. Many were built here and many were from foreign countries.

Whether from the age of sail or the age of steam or today’s modern vessels, they are part of our heritage. Now there’s a relatively new group, the Shipwreck Preservation Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, whose goals are to promote and protect wrecks, and educate divers, historians and shipwreck enthusiasts. It’s involved in underwater archaeological training, shipwreck tours, and diving.

If you’re interested in the shipwrecks of Newfoundland and Labrador, this is a good place to hang out: