Shipwreck Data Base Turns Two

Reef balls 1After being on-line for two years, the NJ Maritime Museum Shipwreck Data Base is getting a facelift. Not a major makeover. Just a nip and a tuck to make some portions of the data base easier to access.

First, the main data base is being constantly cleaned and updated. I am grateful to all the people who have sent me corrections or additions to our files and providing photos, news clippings or book extracts to support the new information. I’m also creating cross references – where possible – to displays and notebooks at the museum. We have hundreds of notebooks , many of them focused on a single shipwreck or event. Visitors to the museum can spend the day poring through these notebooks. When one exists that extends the information in the data base, I’m trying to create that link.

Fishermen and divers are most familiar with New Jersey’s extensive artificial reef system. Most of the sea bottom along New Jersey coast is barren sand which does not support significant sea life. New Jersey DEP has created 15 areas where durable “waste” has been dropped to create bottom structure and sea life habitat. This includes unwanted debris such as rubber tires, concrete rubble from replaced bridges, rocks from harbor dredging, military tanks, subway cars, etc. DEP has dropped thousands of reef balls, concrete structures that create instant habitat for fish and sea critters. A reef ball is on display in front of the museum. But the artificial reef crown jewels are the 143 ships that have been intentionally sunk to create really big structure. Information about those wrecks has been extracted from the main data base and placed in a separate data base organized by reef name. All the same search capabilities are in this data base, just a lot more compact.

Finally, one additional data base has been created that includes 263 shipwrecks that have no name. These are known wrecks with known locations. But no one knows how or when they sank. What little is known about each wreck is included in the data base. It is entirely possible that some of these wrecks are known but have never been matched up with the known wreck. I welcome anyone’s help in performing that match.

I’ve added one additional usability hint to the narrative on the shipwreck data base page. When accessing any of the three data bases, the default view is “Rows 1”. When looking at this view, the same fields can be viewed for several wrecks. But scrolling is needed to view all the information on one wreck. If you click on “Cards 1”, all the information for one wreck is shown vertically. I find this view to be much more readable.

As always, your feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Please direct any comments to Happy wrecking.

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