It wasn’t planned, but maybe we subconsciously knew TOURISM WEEK was approaching when we said yes to welcoming two conferences to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in May.
The IJC – International Joint Commission is a bi-national organization between the United States and Canada created to manage and protect the Great Lakes, and chose Alpena for their annual meeting. We also welcomed staff and community members from three national marine sanctuaries: NOAA’s Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, and Mallows Bay – Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary.
Both groups (nearly 50 people!) were briefed on the sanctuary’s education, research, and stewardship programs and met with community members — including teachers, business owners, and community leaders — to learn about the impact TBNMS has had on the community. They also enjoyed a glass bottom boat tour in sanctuary waters where they experienced historic shipwrecks without getting wet and connected firsthand with the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes. The visitors then toured Viking POLARIS and learned about the ongoing scientific partnership between NOAA and Viking Expeditions.
It was our pleasure to welcome all of these guests to not only Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, but also Alpena, the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes. Local community members were excited to see how their efforts are impacting communities across the Great Lakes!
Collage of visitors on Viking ship and glass bottom boat

Visitors on Viking ship and glass bottom boat

Guests mingling

IJC Welcome Reception

Meeting happening in a room with a projector

IJC Meeting in the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center education room