Discovery of a new shipwreck in Prince Edward Island waters

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The PEI SCUBA Divers group is excited to announce the discovery of a new shipwreck in PEI waters.

The newly discovered wreck sits in roughly 70-75 feet of water about 7 miles from shore in the Northumberland Strait. Four divers from the group were out for diving for scallops last month and checked out an anomaly captain Duck MacDonald had spotted on the bottom of the Strait years ago while fishing in the area. The divers, Laura Brake, Kelly Campbell, Conrad Kippenhuk and Arjan Stutvoet explored the spot and discovered wreckage, steel and wooden structures and the outline of a ship’s hull. The wreck is unique for PEI that it is a 3D structure and is sitting upright on the bottom of the Strait.

Follow up exploration dives on the site and extensive research leads the group to believe the wreck is the Ferguson, a dredging barge which sunk during a gale on June 18th of 1926, claiming the lives of 6 of the 10 crew on board. The group has not 100% confirmed that the wreck is the Ferguson, but newspaper reports from the sinking and the coroner’s inquest have provided several clues that match the Ferguson to the newly discovered wreck site.

Conditions on the wreck site are challenging due to the depth, overhead structures, low light, poor visibility due to sediment in the water from the surrounding silty bottom and the current in the Northumberland Strait. This leaves divers a very narrow window to safely explore the wreck each day.

The group has prepared guidelines around the site in hopes that the wreck site can be accessed and explored by other SCUBA divers in the immediate future. Dive charters to the site are being planned as we speak and information can be found on the PEI SCUBA Divers Facebook group as they become available.

PEI SCUBA Divers would like to take this opportunity to stress the idea of “leave only bubbles, take only pictures.” This is a unique opportunity for PEI to dive an untouched shipwreck, in the condition it sank.

We want to be able to visit this site and have divers come to the Island to see this wreck for years to come view the wreck as we found it. PEI SCUBA Divers group does not approve of any divers taking home souvenirs from this, or any wreck site. So many wreck sites around the Maritimes, and around the world, have been damaged and stripped clean over the years by treasure hunters/salvagers and other divers simply taking a piece of the wreck home with them as a souvenir. Places like Bell Island, Newfoundland and the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River region in Ontario have strict rules in place regarding taking items from shipwrecks. As a result, these places have become world renowned, must SCUBA dive destinations due to the shipwrecks being left preserved.

The PEI SCUBA Divers group wants to start to change the culture and mindset and protect our underwater heritage. This ship, as well as any other wreck in PEI, is a piece of our Island history and we ask that divers adopt a don’t touch and don’t take policy on our shipwrecks to ensure we will continue to have some great dive sites in the future.

Thank you PEI Divers for the story and video.

 

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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