REDLAND boaties are being asked to help document shipwrecks off the Queensland coast as part of National Archaeological Week, which ends on Sunday (20 - 26 May).
Boaties with any information on shipwreck sites along the east coast can contribute to a five-year Queensland Historic Shipwreck Survey being run by the state government.
Environment Minister Andrew Powell said along with details of shipwrecks, the department wanted information on dive sites, unusual fishing spots or net “hook ups” and photographs, drawings or family records of shipwrecks.
Mr Powell said the survey team would dive around wrecks and use sensing surveys of Moreton Bay.
Information gathered would be used to update the Australian National Shipwreck Database.
The location of the Grace Darling wreck, near Bulwer on Moreton Island, was verified in September, thanks to information from the local diving community.
Marine archaeologists estimate more than 1400 ships have been wrecked or abandoned along the Queensland coast since the 18th century.
“While we know the locations of ships that were deliberately scuttled on beaches and foreshores or abandoned up rivers and creeks, others were lost at sea and never seen again and we are keen to find exactly where those wrecks are," Mr Powell said.
To be declared “historic” ships must be wrecked for 75 years or more.
More recent shipwrecks can be declared historic if they are associated with important people or events.
Mr Powell said World War II-era shipwrecks declared historic included three United States warships lost during the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 and the AHS Centaur, torpedoed off Moreton Bay in 1943.
Environment Department principal heritage officer Paddy Waterson said the shipwreck survey, which started in July 2011, initially focussed on the state's south-east but would move its focus north.
“Queensland's coastline is littered with untold stories under the sea," Mr Waterson said.
“We know there are more than 1400 historic shipwrecks or abandoned vessels along the State's coast, as well as in our rivers and bays. But in most cases, data on these shipwrecks is scant and often inaccurate,” he said.
“Every one of these ships is an irreplaceable archaeological site which can tell us much about the lives of past generations of Queenslanders and others who visited our shores.
“Local residents and tourists are invited to visit and enjoy our maritime heritage but are reminded that it is illegal to interfere with these fragile sites,” Mr Waterson said.
The Queensland Heritage Act 1992 and the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 provide protection for and guides the management of all shipwrecks and associated artefacts older than 75 years.
Members of the public can conduct a search for a shipwreck, relic or particular area on the ANSD's database at www.environment.gov.au and if their information does not appear to be known, click on the link and submit a 'Notification of Discovery' report.
Alternatively, details of a shipwreck or relic can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org given over the phone on 13 74 68 during office hours.
For more information on Queensland's shipwrecks visit the EHP website at www.ehp.qld.gov.au