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Project Shiphunt Young Explorers Discover Two Lake Huron Shipwrecks and Document the Journey In 3D
Jul 13, 2011 (04:07 PM EDT)
ALPENA, Mich., July 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony and Intel's Project Shiphunt team of young explorers, scientists and historians has returned to shore with news of its underwater discovery: shipwrecks of the schooner M.F. Merrick and the steel freighter Etruria, in deep water off of Presque Isle in Lake Huron. The project was completed with "much thanks to pings, processing and 3D," according to one of the world's leading marine archaeologists. Current Media, the Peabody-and Emmy Award-winning independent television and online network founded in 2005, will air their adventure as the hour-long special "Project Shiphunt" on August 30th at 10 p.m. ET.
"Ship hunting was once a long, arduous process – more of a hobby than a science," explained expedition leader Dr. James Delgado of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "With today's compact, powerful technology, we have the ability to collect data by pinging the ocean floor, processing the data set, and creating a three dimensional image. Watching that, I was excited to see how the students, like the technology, are up to the task of being the next generation of explorers, oceanographers and maritime archaeologists."
"All of us involved from Sony and Intel are inspired by the efforts of the crew on this discovery," said Steven Nickel, vice president of Networked Technology and Services Division at Sony Electronics. "It is exciting to see Sony VAIO's remarkable computing power and innovative technologies applied to this shipwreck hunting expedition and ultimately contribute to a poignant story of personal discovery for the talented student crew."
"Even just a few years ago mapping the sea floor in real time with this level of detail would have been impossible," said Jonathan Falker from Intel. "The 2nd gen Intel Core processors enable some very exciting applications."
Project Shiphunt, developed by Sony and Intel Corp., began in May when five ambitious high school students from Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, Mich. embarked on the adventure of a lifetime in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary*. Their mission: hunt for a historically meaningful sunken ship, investigate its identity, and document the journey in 3D video for future generations. Sony and Intel outfitted these students with the latest Sony VAIO computers powered by 2nd gen Intel® Core™ processors.
In addition to Dr. Delgado, the student team worked side by side with scientists and historians from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)*, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute* and NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory*.
"The technology used in ship hunting is akin to using your eyes," said Dr. Delgado, Maritime Heritage Program director for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "How much of what you see is dependent on your field of view. Historically, ship hunting was like looking through a microscope. Your perspective was limited to what you could physically see. However, today's technology, advances in computing and SONAR allow us to step away from the microscope, widening our field of view while also preserving the detail."
The schooner M.F. Merrick was lost when a passing steamer struck her in a dense fog off Presque Isle in May 1889. Laden with a heavy cargo of iron ore, the 230-foot Rufus P. Ranney hit the M.F. Merrick on her starboard (right) side and opened a hole 12-feet wide in the old schooner, causing her to sink immediately. Five crewmen went down with her.
The M.F. Merrick was built in 1863 in Clayton, N.Y., by well-known shipbuilder John Oades. At 139 x 26 feet, she was a typical "canaller," designed to pass through the locks of the Welland Ship Canal, bypassing Niagara Falls and connecting Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River with the Upper Great Lakes.
On February 8, 1902, the Etruria was launched at West Bay City, Mich., by West Bay City Ship Building Co. She was built for the Hawgood Transit Company of Cleveland, but only lasted three years. She sank in 1905, after colliding with a steamer in the fog off Presque Isle Light, in Lake Huron.
Project to be Offered as Online Science Curriculum
Now that the mission of Project Shiphunt is complete, Sony and Intel Corp. will partner with NOAA on a comprehensive educational curriculum for high school science and history teachers. Students will be able to experience Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary through the Project Shiphunt adventure directly from their classrooms.
Sanctuary Home to Historically Significant Shipwrecks
The search took place in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, located in the waters off Alpena, Mich. The sanctuary protects one of the nation's most significant collections of shipwrecks, dating back to the late 1800s when the Great Lakes were an engine driving America's early economy. Hundreds of ships used those waterways and, unfortunately, a number of them never made it across to deliver their cargo.
"Project Shiphunt was an extraordinary opportunity to bring the excitement and science of shipwreck exploration to students and classrooms across the nation," said Jeff Gray, sanctuary superintendent. "We look forward to continuing our work with Sony to enrich the lives of young people so they will understand and appreciate the value in protecting our nation's underwater treasures."
Project Shiphunt is just as ambitious as last year's initiative when Sony and Intel worked with students from the California Academy of Mathematics & Science, pairing them with a rocket scientist to design, build and launch a high powered rocket.
Sony Electronics: http://www.sony.com/shiphunt
Current Media: http://current.com/
Editor's Note: For complete specifications and digital images, members of the news media are invited to visit Sony Electronics' news and information web site at www.sony.com/news. For all things VAIO visit www.sonyelectronicscommunity.com.
* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others
SOURCE Sony Electronics