North Carolina Waters
Access to the Atlantic Ocean, along with a vast network of more than 37,000 miles of rivers and inlets, has served the people of North Carolina for thousands of years. These waters have provided food, a means of transportation, entertainment, and other resources. The interactions of past North Carolinians with these environments have left visible evidence, all part of our state's unique underwater cultural heritage.
Submerged Cultural Resources
Anything man-made beneath the water's surface may be considered a submerged cultural resource and illuminates our underwater cultural heritage. Ocean shipwrecks, dugout canoes made by American Indians, fish weirs, inundated towns, and mills and irrigation features along rivers are just a few examples.
Underwater archaeologists - also called maritime, marine, or nautical archaeologists - are trained in a special set of skills that enable them to perform scientific surveys and excavations in submerged environments. They are scientific divers practiced in safely conducting research on underwater sites. The tools and methods may differ from those used on land, but the theoretical approaches and ways of interpreting archaeological and historical information are the same.
October is Archaeology Month in North Carolina!
View the Governor's Proclamation
Presented in partnership by the NC Office of State Archaeology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.
Working together to preserve our state's submerged cultural resources, NOAA and the OSA celebrate North Carolina's underwater cultural heritage while expanding recreational, tourism, education, and economic development opportunities. OSA fulfills its state law role to protect, preserve, survey, and recover submerged resources inland and within three nautical miles of the North Carolina coast, and works closely with Federal agencies like NOAA to protect and interpret shipwrecks important to North Carolina's history in Federal waters.
The waters off North Carolina contain NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and hundreds of years of maritime history, including one of the most significant battles in American History, World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. Over the last four decades, NOAA and the OSA have worked together to document, preserve, and honor this underwater cultural heritage and commemorate the sacrifices and accomplishments made by generations before us.