Developing Public Awareness of our Maritime Heritage by documenting shipwrecks with 3D imagery for virtual online exhibits in collaboration with the Shipwreck Preservation Society of NL (SPSNL)

Lay Summary 

In collaboration with SPSNL, their local knowledge and historical research into our maritime heritage, we plan to engage with local museums, historical societies and community groups to document existing shipwrecks. High definition 3D imaging is essential for managing submerged historic shipwrecks for the public record. Modern ocean technologies such as multibeam echo sounders and sidescan sonars were developed mainly to characterize the geomorphology of the seafloor. This technology is also essential to visualize shipwrecks. Through the expertise and resources at the Marine Institute’s Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, this imagery can be useful based on the which technology used, the depth, and condition of a shipwreck. With reference to the sonar’s technical specifications, published survey protocols and collaboration with industry colleagues we can further develop our procedures to define best practices to survey a shipwreck. One or two priority wrecks will be surveyed to produce a 3D model and selection will be based on local knowledge and interest from the community. Processing of this data will be used to produce 3D imagery for online content in virtual museums, potential publications, public displays and an archaeological site recording at the Provincial Archaeological Office. This will enable the public outside the diving community to engage with our maritime history and employ a work term student from the School of Ocean Technology.
Marine Institute’s programs, training and application of its ocean technology will be promoted along with the discovery, study and historical record of Newfoundland & Labrador shipwrecks. A work term student from the School of Ocean Technology will also gain valuable employment experience. Further, the development of research, best practices and shipwreck survey methodologies may be included in the ocean mapping curriculum at the SOT. This collaboration will also increase public outreach regarding the preservation of shipwrecks, and the importance of our nautical heritage to the history of Newfoundland & Labrador through partnership with local communities and cultural heritage organizations.

Through elevating the value of our nautical heritage this project could provide the catalyst to future shipwreck work at the Marine Institute with interest from the community, stakeholders in the culture and heritage industry and the public in general. By promoting the study, documentation and appreciation of Newfoundland & Labrador shipwrecks, we are also promoting the training and education in the historical preservation and archaeological record of them.

Marine Institute Campus
Newfoundland and Labrador
Public engagement
Industry Sectors 
Information and Cultural Industries
Start date 
1 May 2021
End date 
30 Apr 2022
Partner Organization 
Shipwreck Preservation Society of NL