Great Lakes Research

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Summary of current capabilities and past experience with respect to its support of Sea Cadet training, scientific and educational projects, and exploration of the Great Lakes environment, sometimes in collaboration with other institutions and agencies.

Professional Services

The Foundation provides a unique combination of services in support of scientific and educational projects throughout the Great Lakes.

  • Nearshore and offshore vessel facilities for academic and applied research;
  • AAUS-certified master diver support for underwater projects;
  • High-definition underwater photography and videography services;
  • Underwater survey technologies, including echo sounding, side-scan sonar and metal detection;
  • Over 25 years of experience in SCUBA diver training: PADI, SDI and AAUS certifications;
  • Collaborative relationships with numerous scientists, historians, and educators in the Great Lakes Region;
  • Publication and interpretation of scientific information for the public.

Allied Organizations

The Noble Odyssey Foundation works closely with two partner organizations:

Great Lakes Division
Sea Cadet Corps

A Michigan 501c3

Inter-Seas Exploration, Ltd.

Michigan for-profit company

Facilities and Equipment

Vessels and other field gear owned and/or operated by NOF include:

  • 80-ft. motor vessel, Pride of Michigan – former Navy YP
  • 28-ft. motor vessel, Sounder – Marinette Marine (aluminum hull)
  • 28-ft. motor vessel, Inter-Seas Explorer – Pursuit Boats (fiberglass hull)
  • 10-ft. rigid hull inflatable w/ 50 hp outboard – Avon Marine
  • 18-ft. rigid hull inflatables (2) w/ 50 hp outboards – Zodiac & Wing
  • Sidescan sonar – Sportscan Model, Shark Marine Technologies
  • Echosounder system – Innerspace 455 with Trimble DSM 232 DGPS
  • Underwater video camera system – Sony HVR-Z1U High-Definition
  • Underwater 35 mm camera systems – Nikon D-200 & D-70
  • Autel Robotics X-Star Quadcopter with 4K camera
  • Air compressors (3) for dive tanks – Bauer, 5,000 psi
  • Underwater communication systems (2-way)
  • Komodo Red digital video camera in Gates underwater housing
  • Nikon 850 digital camera in Aquatic underwater housing

Other specialized equipment may be obtained as required for projects.

Luke Clyburn, Great Lakes Underwater Filmaker


Research projects involving NOF are often led by collaborating scientists from universities, corporations, museums, and government agencies.  Some of these projects have been supported by grants from university, state, and federal sources.

The Foundation’s mission has also been supported for over 50 years by numerous volunteer professionals who supervise field activities, operate and maintain vessels, manage logistics, and perform administrative tasks.

Young Naval Sea Cadets in training assist in nearly all field operations as ship’s crew and divers under professional supervision.



  • Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, Department of Environmental Quality (grant support)
  • Michigan Sea Grant College Program (grant support)
  • Oakland University, Research Committee and Department of Biological Sciences, Rochester, MI (grant support and logistical support)
  • Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station, Fisheries Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (collaboration and logistical support)
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, Ann Arbor, MI (collaboration and logistical support)
  • Cranbrook Institute of Science (collaboration and exhibit support)
  • Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University (collaboration)


  • American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)
  • Scuba Diving International (SDI)
  • Divers Alert Network (DAN)
  • Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
  • Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve,

NOAA (logistical support)

  • Michigan Coastal Management Program (grant support)
  • Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson (dendrochronology and 14C dating)
  • The University of Michigan, project collaboration
  • Alpena Community College, project collaboration
  • Macomb County Planning and Economic Development

Project Experience

Selected research projects conducted by NOF staff, with or without institutional collaborators, include:

  • Island floristic and ecological studies, Lakes Huron/Michigan, 1979-1989
  • Isle Royale Emperor wreck exploration and filming, Lake Superior, 1982
  • Zebra mussel biological studies, Lake St. Clair, 1990-2004
  • Freshwater Invaders investigation, Lakes Huron/Superior/Michigan, 1998
  • Sanilac drowned forest investigation, Lake Huron, 1999-2001
  • Zooplankton community structure studies, Lake St. Clair, 2000-2001
  • Traverse Bay drowned channel exploration, Lake Michigan, 2004-2005
  • Lake St. Clair aquatic vascular plant community studies, 2006-2007
  • Middle Island Sinkhole exploration and mapping, Lake Huron, 2006-2009
  • Huron Ridge geological and mapping studies, Lake Huron, 2007-2008
  • Mackinac Channel bathymetric mapping, Straits of Mackinac, 2007-2009
  • St. Ignace clamshell barge rediscovery, Straits of Mackinac, 2009
  • Thunder Bay drowned forest investigation, Lake Huron, 2009
  • Mackinac Island underwater cave reconnaissance, Lake Huron, 2010
  • Underwater Investigations of Community-Sponsored Light Stations, 2015
  • Survey of nearshore historic shipwrecks in Lake Huron, Michigan, 2017
  • Submerged settlements and bottomlands research of Lake St. Clair, 2021-2022