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Symposium to Dive into Underwater Heritage

The German U-Boat U-85 will be discussed during the sixth annual Underwater Heritage Symposium April 6 at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Photo: Jim Bunch.

HATTERAS — The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum will delve into centuries’ worth of history during the sixth annual Underwater Heritage Symposium.

The free symposium that will highlight a range of underwater and maritime experiences is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at the museum.

While topics vary each year, this year speakers will discuss the forgotten wrecks off the coast, how a shipwreck is identified, the search for the blockade runner Sheridan, the expedition to the site of Bow Mariner, marine life on shipwrecks, U-boats off the coast and Truk Lagoon in the central Pacific.

“The level of research they (the presenters) do is astounding. It’s top notch,” Mary Ellen Riddle, who oversees educational programs at the museum, said in a statement. “They’re drawing on sometimes 40 or 50 years of experience.”

She said that the presentations are geared for all levels of interest.

“We’ve been very fortunate that underwater archaeologists and professional divers are excited about it and willing to come far and wide to talk,” Riddle said.

Marc Corbett, who has been presenting since the first symposium, will share an update on his search for Sheridan, a  blockade runner, which later became a blockader, that ran aground on Bodie Island in 1866.

Corbett’s been looking to identify the wreck for the past five or six years as part of his overarching interest in finding undiscovered near-shore wrecks along the Outer Banks. Sheridan, which was carrying very expensive cargo when it sank, is one of the more interesting ones, he said.

Jim Bunch, a diver and oceanographer who grew up in the Outer Banks and was diving on beach wrecks as a preteen in the 1950s, has been involved with the museum for years and helped Riddle with the first year’s lineup.

Bunch this year will present on U-85, the first U-boat to sink off the coast during World War I. He’s to share some of the history of his first dive at the site in the 1970s, as well as new pictures and information on U-85 at this year’s symposium.

For more information on the Underwater Heritage Symposium, visit www.graveyardoftheatlantic.com or email maryellen.riddle@ncdcr.gov.

2019 Symposium Lineup

  • 10: 05-10:45 a.m.: The Formation of a Graveyard: The Graveyard of the Atlantic and Its Forgotten Wrecks
  • 11-11:45 a.m.: U-boat War in North Carolina’s Coastal Waters 1942
  • 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Truk Lagoon-Graveyard of the Pacific
  • 1:30-2:15 p.m.: Beneath the Killing Sea – Life from Tragedy
  • 2:15-3 p.m.: Identifying A Shipwreck: Matching Wreck Observations and Historical Information to Solve the Mystery
  • 3:15-4 p.m.: The Search for Sheridan
  • 4:15-5 p.m.: Bow Mariner Expedition
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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.