Help needed to identify wreck at Dongara beach

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The Western Australian Museum would like the public’s assistance to identify a recently discovered shipwreck about 20 metres offshore at 7 Mile Beach in Dongara.

Regular visitor to the area Aletta Bussenschutt discovered the wreck at a depth of about three metres while recreational diving, and reported the find to the WA Museum.

“I had snorkeled many times at 7 Mile Beach and I was lucky enough to have found the wreck due to the recent swells which had moved the benthic sand,” Ms Bussenschutt said.

“I remember diving down to inspect the wreck further and thinking ‘that’s a wooden hull on the bottom of the ocean!’”

WA Museum Maritime Archaeology Curator Dr Ross Anderson said after inspecting the site, it was identified as the remains of a motorised wooden cray boat.

“The vessel is about seven metres long and was built sometime between the 1950s and 1980s,” Dr Anderson said.

“A timber sample shows it was built in part using jarrah indicating the vessel was built in Western Australia.”

Another artefact recovered was a mammal bone, which points to the wreck occurring before bovine cray baiting stopped in the 1990s.

The area is a haven for fishing boats as it is sheltered from prevailing southerly winds which means the boat may have been moored at the time of sinking.

“As it’s likely the boat wrecked in the relatively recent past, the Museum is asking anyone who may be able to identify the vessel to get in touch,” Dr Anderson said.

“Verified information would be added to the Museum’s shipwreck database and would help document the evolution of the Mid West crayfishing trade.”

Information can be reported to Dr Ross Anderson by phoning 1300 134 081 or emailing reception@museum.wa.gov.au