By Kara Coleman
CLEVELAND, OH (Erie News Now) – If you spent any time on the shores of Presque Isle this month, you likely noticed a big ship out in Lake Erie which has been canvassing the water for hours at a time.
Erie News Now learned it is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) ship Thomas Jefferson which is on a mission to map the lake floor.
Our crew got a chance to board the ship as it docked in Cleveland on Friday.
The 208-foot ship spent most of this month mapping the lake around Presque Isle.
The ship is not only taking pictures of the lake bed; it is also conducting initial surveys for a proposal to make portions of Lake Erie a national marine sanctuary.
The job is also well overdue.
“The lake bed around Erie hasn’t been charted officially since the 1940s,” said Louis Castillo, junior captain of NOAA Thomas Jefferson. “A lot can change in that time. We needed to do updated charting of that area to find out if lake bed had shifted, if depths had changed or if there were any navigational hazards that people weren’t aware of.”
This is the first time the NOAA Thomas Jefferson has been in the Great Lakes in some 35 years.
The mapping mission will continue through October.