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NOAA Discovers 19th-century Shipwreck in Marine National Monument

Gledstanes ballast

An archaeologist sketches the Gledstanes ballast area.

A team of maritime heritage archaeologists from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered the shipwreck remains of the 1837 British whaling ship Gledstanes. The shipwreck was found off Kure Atoll within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument during a month-long expedition to discover and document shipwrecks in monument waters.

Four massive anchors, iron ballast, what appear to be two cannon, and a trypot (a cauldron for rendering whale oil) were found tucked into the dynamic grooves of the Kure Atoll reef. The expedition, which concluded at the end of August, documented other shipwrecks, too.

The Gledstanes, which wrecked in heavy seas, is the fourth whaling ship, and one of the oldest ships, discovered thus far in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, shedding further light on the major significance of 19th-century whaling heritage in this region.

British anchor circa 1800

The straight flukes of a British anchor circa 1800 sits like an arrow on the sea bed.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is administered jointly by three co-trustees — the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and the State of Hawaii — and is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag, and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world, encompassing 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.