Thousands of miles of deep blue water in Thunder Bay are home to an estimated 200 shipwrecks, with nearly 100 identified to date. Majestic lighthouses, life-saving stations, and harbors further serve witness to the rich maritime history of Thunder Bay. Key to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s mission is protecting the Great Lakes and educating the public about these vast fresh waters and priceless treasures that rest along Lake Huron’s northwestern shores and bottomlands. Providing local support for the sanctuary’s mission is the driving force behind the Friends of TBNMS.

Established in 2010 by local community leaders, the Friends of TBNMS is a nonprofit 501(c)3. Its founders envisioned the significant opportunity the sanctuary offered for protecting our Great Lakes and their rich maritime history, hands-on educational experiences for area students, and local economic development. Today, that vision has become a reality with the Friends of TBNMS sharing a close working relationship with the sanctuary staff, playing a critical role in funding the sanctuary’s education programs, community outreach efforts, unique museum experiences, and research.

Donations from Friends members and grants support:

  • Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
  • PreK-16 education programs (water quality, marine debris, shipwrecks, Great Lakes history and archaeology)
  • Summer and spring break camp scholarships for school-age youth
  • Marine technology and underwater robotics programs and competitions
  • Annual community events that include the Thunder Bay Maritime Festival (July) and Thunder Bay International Film Festival (January)
  • Shipwreck and Great Lakes research and preservation
  • Great Lakes conservation
  • Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail


Become a True Blue Friend Today!

If you love the Great Lakes, become a Friend of TBNMS. Our mission is simple.  We are dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes and preserving their rich maritime history.

Together, we:

  • Celebrate our Great Lakes and their rich maritime history.
  • Enjoy recreating in these breathtakingly vast fresh waters.
  • Foster good stewardship, thriving communities, and sustainable tourism through example, education, and outreach.

Of course, having fun with friends who share a passion for our Great Lakes is a big part of joining the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, too!


  • 10% discount on all Sanctuary Store purchases
  • Invitations to Friends of TBNMS events
  • Commemorative gifts for milestone occasions
  • Special “behind-the-scenes” activities with maritime experts
  • Sanctuary newsletter, Thunderstruck, and other special publications
  • Advance notice of upcoming happenings
  • Opportunities to meet fascinating special visitors
  • Unique volunteer experiences
  • Knowing you are investing in Great Lakes conservation, stewardship, and sustainable tourism for generations to come!


All membership donations stay here in the Thunder Bay area!




Charles N. Wiesen (Chuck) is president of the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (FTBNMS).

Born in Flint, Mich., Wiesen went to Western Michigan and Central Michigan Universities, earning an undergraduate degree in industrial education and a master’s degree in school administration. He then spent 34 years in public school and community college leadership in a variety of roles.

Since his retirement in 2005, Chuck has been an active community volunteer. He serves as board secretary of a local credit union and the medical school and law school scholarship selection committees at the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM). He and his wife, Julie, also established a CFNEM scholarship fund for students attending Alpena Community College.

First and foremost, though, Chuck enjoys his volunteer time at TBNMS. You can often find him in the artifact conservation laboratory, hosting tourist and student groups around the sanctuary, and serving as a much-in-demand guide for Alpena Shipwreck Tours. He also is a great volunteer for special annual sanctuary events, including the Thunder Bay International Film Festival, MATE ROV (underwater robotics) Great Lakes Regional Competition, July 4th Thunder Bay Maritime Festival, and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center’s Halloween extravaganza. In recognition of the extraordinary contribution Chuck makes to the sanctuary and his leadership on behalf of the Friends of TBNMS, he was honored as the Volunteer of the Year in 2007.

When not in volunteer mode, Chuck enjoys a quiet home life along the shores of Lake Huron with his wife and their dog, Elsa.



Carol Schmidt Shafto is a board member of the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (FTBNMS).

She was one of the founding community members of the sanctuary, joining its advisory council in 1997 representing the Alpena City Council. Carol was very active in seeking designation of the area as the first sanctuary in fresh waters. She has held an advisory council seat for 20 years.

She says of all the things she has ever been involved in, the sanctuary is her lifetime greatest achievement and her passion. She received the National Environmental Hero award in 2001 for her work leading to the designation of Thunder Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary. She has been Volunteer of the Year, has testified in Washington DC on the reauthorization of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and is very involved as an advisor and volunteer.

Carol spent 24 years in service to the people of the City of Alpena as a planning commissioner (8); city council member (12) and mayor (4) before retiring from local politics. During this time she also served as president of the Michigan Municipal League, the association of 550+ Michigan cities. In March 2017, she was awarded MML’s highest individual honor, the Honorary Life Membership Award. She also has been recognized as Alpena Citizen of the Year and Zonta Woman of the Year, among many accolades.

Ms. Shafto grew up in northern Michigan (Onaway). She came to Alpena at 17 to attend Alpena Community College. After graduation, she joined the US Air Force and went on to earn a degree from Oakland University and to attend both University of Michigan and Michigan State. She is a nationally certified planner (AICP) through the American Planning Association. She will retire from Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency in September 2017 after 38 years. She is the planning and evaluation director of the 11-county regional human service agency.

Carol has two sons, Shawn and Geoffrey, and one grandson, Julian, the light of her life. She lives in the City of Alpena and vows not to become a snowbird!



AlDean (Al) Moe retired as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Alpena Regional Medical (now Mid-Michigan) in 2009 after 45 years as a health care executive and is now a board member of the Friends.

Born and raised in Minnesota, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care Administration/Management and Biology from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and also completed course work towards his Master’s Degree at the University of Minnesota.  Al is a Fellow of the American College of Health Care Executives.

An active leader in the Alpena community, Al has served on many Boards.  Currently he serves on the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) Board and is a Friends Representative on the TBNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council and was recently on the safety boat for the three Traverse City incredible paddle boarders “Stand Up For Great Lakes” awareness trek and FTBNMS fundraiser during their epic ninety mile, twenty eight hour paddle board crossing of Lake Huron from Alpena to Tobermory, Ontario.

Al serves on the Thunder Bay Community Health Services Board, the City of Alpena Compensation Board and the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Military Support Committee and is an active Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Alpena.  He served on the Alpena Alcona/Montmorency Educational Service District for many years, was Past President and long-time board member of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce and Past President, and member of the Board of Directors and Campaign Chairman of United Way of Northeast Michigan.  Al and his wife, Cathy were named Alpena Citizens of the Year in 2008.  They have been married for fifty years and have two children and six grandchildren.

Al enjoys life in Northeast Michigan, fishing and boating in the TBNMS, and hunting.



Beach Hall sailed into the Rogers City marina for several years, liked the community, and moved there in 1992 following his retirement from General Motors.

He held a variety of personnel assignments with GM at the plant, division, and corporation levels. Starting in 2002, he served 12 years as Mayor of Rogers City. During this time he constantly advocated for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) to be expanded to include the waters off Rogers City and Presque Isle County, and was pleased it was accomplished just before he left office. In addition to being Mayor, he has been active in many Rogers City and Alpena area organizations, including being president of the Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan and the Presque Isle County Historical Museum. In addition to serving on the Friends of TBNMS board of directors, he currently serves as chair of the board for the Presque Isle District Library and on the boards of MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena, Thunder Bay Community Health Services, and Alpena Community College Foundation.



Jeff Gray has served as the superintendent of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary since 2002 and is a board member of the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (FTBNMS).

The 4,300 square-mile sanctuary protects the Great Lakes and their rich history, so this and future generations can enjoy these underwater treasures.  As sanctuary superintendent, Jeff oversees the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the sanctuary’s research and visitor center.  The GLMHC received nearly 100,000 visitors in 2016.

Jeff has played an active role in parks and recreation in Michigan.  In addition to serving on several local and regional boards, Jeff served as a member of Michigan’s Blue Ribbon Panel on State Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and currently serves on the Michigan State Park Advisory Committee.

Before joining NOAA, Jeff served as the State Underwater Archaeologist at the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Jeff holds an M.A. in Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology from East Carolina University and a B.A. in Archaeology from Beloit College.