ANCHOR – Appreciating the Nation's Cultural Heritage and Ocean Resources – is a Monitor National Marine Sanctuary outreach and conservation initiative. ANCHOR's mission is to work in partnership with dive businesses and charter operators to reduce human impacts on shipwrecks and other maritime heritage resources. The program educates local North Carolina businesses and their customers on the value of maritime heritage and the ways in which they can help protect these fragile resources. In collaboration with the local dive operators, the ANCHOR program informs the public how to responsibly access the shipwrecks and promote respectful interactions with shipwrecks as both a maritime heritage resource and as thriving artificial reefs. ANCHOR promotes the crucial principle that all divers and snorkelers can do their part by making sure they do no further harm to our marine resources.
ANCHOR is based on two successful Florida dive-related conservation programs. The first is the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Blue Star program, which reduces the impact of divers and snorkelers on the local coral reef ecosystem. The second is the Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar program created by the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) to provide influential figures within the scuba diving industry with a greater knowledge of how to proactively protect shipwrecks, artificial reefs, and other natural and maritime heritage resources.
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is committed to working with the state, the local community, and divers to preserve and promote North Carolina's maritime heritage. North Carolina's dive charter operators and businesses are the gateway through which the public access maritime heritage sites like shipwrecks. By working in partnership with local businesses, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary's ANCHOR Program provides an opportunity to not only give seasoned scuba divers a greater appreciation of North Carolina's shipwrecks, but to also reach a whole new generation of aquatic explorers.
Dive shop operators earn their ANCHOR certification by participating in annual training on issues affecting maritime heritage resources, sanctuary goals, and good diving etiquette. They incorporate this information into certification classes and dive briefings for their customers. Dive shops are evaluated on their commitment to ensuring local diving tourism is sustainable.
The ANCHOR program is designed to:
- Form an active partnership with dive and charter operators in North Carolina;
- Collaborate with the diving community and educate the public about maritime heritage resources;
- Increase responsible access to maritime resources;
- Develop greater awareness of North Carolina's maritime history; and
- Support maritime heritage tourism for local economies.
When planning a dive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, support an ANCHOR recognized commercial diving operator and know you are selecting a business dedicated to education and shipwreck preservation.
Aquatic Safaris SCUBA Center - Wilmington, North Carolina
Roanoke Island Outfitters and Dive Shop - Manteo, North Carolina
Rum Runner Dive Shop - Winterville, North Carolina
Discovery Diving - Beaufort, North Carolina
For more information on the ANCHOR program and volunteer opportunities, contact the ANCHOR coordinator.