Endurance Marine Exploration was created in the summer of 2013 with the aim of exploring the Southern California coastline that is inaccessible to scuba divers from the 100-300 foot depth range. Hundreds of ships and aircraft still remain lost at sea with only general coordinates being recorded. With the exception of some wrecks in the Channel Islands, and some around San Pedro Bay, there have been no serious attempts to locate or document these lost wrecks.
Over the previous decade, numerous advances in marine technology put equipment and data in the hands of amateur enthusiasts. Although the technology has been in use for many years, it was not until recently that towed magnetometers, side scan sonar, and ROVs have become affordable.
Unlike ocean exploration on the East Coast of the United States and elsewhere, California waters are cold and deep. Due to these conditions, scuba divers are mostly confined to Wreck Alley in San Diego, the coves in Laguna Beach and the vast kelp forests of Catalina Island.
One of the first organizations to explore the known wrecks in Southern California was the California Wreck Divers founded in 1971. (cawreckdivers.org/AboutCWD.htm) CWD maintains an active list of all wrecks in diveable waters and are one of the few organizations that routinely conduct technical diving on known wrecks deeper than 200 feet.
The second organization is the UB88 crew who in July 2003 successfully located the wreck of the UB88, the only WWI U-boat on the West Coast. Since then, the team has gone on to document other military shipwrecks and aircraft as documented on their website (ub88.org/index.html).
Recently, there has been little to no shipwreck exploration in the area.
Endurance Marine Exploration is seeking to change this through the use of a five tiered approach.
1. Utilize 3D bathymetric and side scan data from the recently completed California Seafloor Mapping Project to identify sites of interest.
2. Run a towed side scan sonar combined with a magnetometer and single beam sonar over sites of interest or areas where “no data” exists.
3. Process data in Geographic Information Systems to obtain accurate GPS coordinates and examine site characteristics.
4. Send down an ROV on any interesting sites from the obtained data.
5. If a historical site is found, then a complete photomosaic will be made and able to be viewed openly for further study.
There is much out there that has not been thoroughly explored, we would like to change that. Large research vessels do not operate in this area as they do elsewhere. It is up to the enthusiasts to document these sites before they are lost to time.