Lake Ontario becomes a national marine sanctuary

Time to read
1 minute
Read so far

Lake Ontario becomes a national marine sanctuary

Posted in:

Press Release

After seven years of advocacy efforts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has designated part of Lake Ontario as a national marine sanctuary.


The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 16 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments. Please visit:

What does this new designation mean for the Lake Ontario community, New York State, and all those who care about protecting our nation’s most iconic waters? It will:

  • Preserve and raise national awareness and appreciation of a historically-significant collection of shipwrecks and other maritime heritage and cultural resources
  • Foster partnerships with researchers and educators to discover additional wonders beneath the waves and tell the story of our past in order to shape our future
  • Create business and job opportunities from tourism and outdoor recreation

New York State, in partnership with its local communities, nominated Lake Ontario for designation. A diverse coalition of local, state and national elected officials, historical societies, businesses, museums and environmental, recreational, conservation, fishing, tourism, and educational groups endorsed making this site a national marine sanctuary.

Did you know that the 1,724 square miles of the new Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary encompass 41 known shipwrecks and one submerged aircraft that span over 200 years of history? 

Of these, the St. Peter is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Lady Washington is the second oldest (1797) intact shipwreck discovered in the Great Lakes.

An additional 20 shipwrecks, three historic aircraft, and several other underwater archaeological sites that may be of religious and cultural significance to Indigenous Nations and Tribes are also likely located in the area still to be discovered. 

This designation makes sure this history is preserved, and could encourage further research of what lies beneath Lake Ontario’s depths.

These waters served as transportation and trade routes for Native Americans and early European explorers. 

They were the centers for military conflicts at the birth of our nation from land and sea during the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. And, they helped support the development of the American West and the nation’s industrial core.

Learn more about the Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary here.


Other articles and news about Great Lakes