Volume 3 2013

Caitlin Zant. Photo: Tamara Thomsen.


Caitlin Zant

Future Maritime Archaeologist

It was Caitlin Zant’s first real shipwreck, and it went well.

Zant, a North Carolina resident and graduate of Wisconsin’s Carthage College, is one of a group of 30 graduate students from East Carolina University who surveyed the wreck of the Adriatic, a 19th century-era self-unloading schooner-barge abandoned and sunk in the shallow waters of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. It’s located off the shore of the Bay Shipping Co.

Led by Tamara Thomsen and Chad Gulseth, a pair of maritime archaeologists with the Wisconsin Historical Society, each diver took a section of the wreck to survey. Once underwater, the divers measured and sketched out their sections, then compiled their drawings into a full-scale image of the wreck.

Zant, 23, has completed her first year in the maritime studies program at East Carolina University, and she was on the Adriatic survey team thanks to funding from Wisconsin Sea Grant.

“For most of us, this is the first wreck we’ve mapped, or even seen underwater in its natural state,” said Zant, who noted that typically, students practice on staged wreckage in swimming pools.

 “Luckily, the wreck is fairly intact,” said Zant. “It’s held up better than we expected to see. We figured the number of ships traversing the bay would have had negative effects, but there’s been no further damage. ”

The Adriatic has a rich history. Constructed in 1889 by timber magnate James Davidson, it became the first wooden schooner with self-unloading equipment to sail the Great Lakes. It was converted to a self-unloading barge, and became a fixture of the Sturgeon Bay stone trade until it was retired and abandoned in 1930. Over the course of its lifetime, it suffered more than $2,000 in fire damage, and one of its captains died shortly after the self-unloading boom fell on him.

Zant has now begun another school project in the field, mapping a wreck on the outer banks of North Carolina. Eventually, she’d like to return to Wisconsin.

“The way my research is going, I’d like to come back to the Great Lakes—it’s always been a part of me,” she said. “It has a fascinating maritime heritage that’s not given the same amount of attention as the ocean coasts. There’s a lot still to be looked at in Lake Michigan.”

The River Talks

Wisconsin Sea Grant is teaming up with the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to start a series of science café-type evening talks about the St. Louis River Estuary. These informal “River Talks” will begin in September and will be held on the last Tuesday of the month through spring, starting in Superior, Wis., and then moving across the estuary to Duluth, Minn.

“Our goal is to engage Twin Ports residents in discussions about the St. Louis River Estuary in a social environment with the organizations and individuals that value the estuary and work to address critical issues to its health and the health of surrounding communities,” said Becky Sapper, assistant reserve manager of the Lake Superior NERR.

Topics will include river restoration, research and outreach projects. Speakers will include agency representatives, scientists, tribal representatives, artists and businesses.

See seagrant.wisc.edu/home/Topics/HabitatsandEcosystems for details.

Lake Superior Fish Classic:

Minnesota vs. Wisconsin Chefs

Judge for yourself: Are Wisconsin or Minnesota chefs better at cooking Lake Superior fish? Find out on Oct. 4, 2013, at an evening taste-testing hosted by the Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs in Duluth, Minn. The event, designed as a tribute to the people who manage, harvest, sell, study and prepare Lake Superior fish, will feature five chefs from each state cooking two types of fish—cisco (also known as lake herring) and whitefish.

The chefs will compete for $1,000 in prize money in a judged competition and for the public’s taste bud approval with a people’s choice award. While savoring the flavors, diners can listen to live music and chat with the chefs and sustainable fisheries experts. At the end of the evening, the winners will be announced and door prizes delivered.

Tickets to the event are $15. For more information, visit seagrant.umn.edu or call (218) 726-8106.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents