North Carolina’s Outer Banks is one of the most unique places in the world, containing some of the most dramatic barrier islands and most dangerous shoals and currents on Earth.
The area is often referred to as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because these waters have entombed thousands of vessels and countless mariners who lost a desperate struggle against the forces of war, piracy, and nature.
On New Year’s Eve, 1862, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor met its end, sinking to the bottom of the sea. Today, this historic wreck is protected by our nation’s first national marine sanctuary – Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.
(Top photo: Peter Flood; bottom photo and 3D rendering: NOAA)
Connor and Haytham take turns at the Jackdaw’s wheel. Edward watches on proudly.
Ezio taking charge of all trade deals. With his charisma, large network of contacts, and sharp marketing savvy, all trade undertaken by Kenway’s fleet prospers.
Altaïr consistently getting seasick the first few days of sailing. But within a week, they finally get their sea legs. The moment they emerge from their cabins without immediately getting sick, the crew cheers.
Jacob singing along to sea shanties with the crew, making up the lyrics for the ones he doesn’t know.
Shao Jun teaching Evie how to read a compass, nautical maps, and the stars.
If there’s one thing that Templars are good at, it’s FIREPOWER. Shay and Élise are in charge of overseeing puckle guns and cannons, ensuring ready stocks of gunpowder, chain shot and mortar rounds.
Aveline surprises everyone by being the only one brave enough to follow Edward shipwreck-diving, and surprises no one by being extremely good at harpooning.
Arno has a few words with the cook one evening, and meals on board improve considerably.
Everyone watches on nervously as Edward patiently teaches
how to swim.
A tricky day at the office: sometimes it can be hard for maritime archaeologists to see shipwrecks around all the fish!
Here, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary archaeologist Will Sassorossi tries to take a look at the USS Schurz while fish school around divers and the wreck. Schurz sank during World War I after a collision in dense fog. Today, the wreck rests in about 110 feet of water off Beaufort, North Carolina.
Sunken ships and their contents are quickly taken over by sea creatures and plant-life underwater.
A large coral has grown on this terracotta Roman wine storage jar, which was made on Sicily around 275–300 AD. It was found in the shipwreck of a small Roman merchant ship which sunk in stormy weather near Levanzo. See it on display in our current Storms, War & Shipwrecks exhibition.
Known as ‘red gold’, coral from the Sicilian seas is highly prized for its colour varying from light pink to deep red. Coral has been harvested by divers for thousands of years for craftsmen to create beautiful jewellery and ornaments.
Our introduction to Tobermory wreck diving started with the classic Sweepstakes wreck.
The Sweepstakes was a two-masted 119-foot schooner built in Burlington, Ontario, Canada in 1867. It suffered serious damage off Cove Island, not far from Tobermory, in 1885, and was towed into Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory. Unable to repair it in time, it sank in the harbour where it can be visited today. Given the shallow depth of 20 feet, it makes for an easy dive, and is also visited by snorkelers and tourists aboard glass-bottom boats.
This manta ray was spotted swimming near the wreck of the USS Monitor in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The Civil War-era shipwreck now serves as a habitat for all kinds of sea life, including manta rays like this one!