Wreck at Dongara beach identified

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Research by the Western Australian Museum into a recently discovered shipwreck at 7 Mile Beach in Dongara points to it being the Margaret Ann.

WA Museum Maritime Archaeology Curator Dr Ross Anderson said his work was greatly assisted by leads provided by the local community, after a call out for its help to identify the remains of the motorised wooden cray boat.

Chris Akerstrom contacted the Museum with information that the Margaret Ann LFB16, operated by her late husband Mick Akerstrom, sank at its moorings in the early 1960s and was never salvaged.

“A number of other leads were followed up, but from the available evidence the wreck is most likely the Margaret Ann,” Dr Anderson said.

“It was a 6.6-metre motorised, single-mast, carvel-planked wooden vessel, which matches the archaeological information the Museum had recorded.”

The area where the wreck was found is a haven for fishing boats as it is sheltered from prevailing southerly winds.

Dongara teacher Aletta Bussenschutt, who discovered the vessel at a depth of about three metres while snorkelling and reported the find to the WA Museum, said she is glad a name can be put to the wreck.

“It’s been a great response from the community – hearing old stories from past fishermen and their family members, current fishermen interested in local history have been raising questions, and Dongara District High School students are excited they personally know the finder and can’t wait to go snorkelling on a shipwreck!” Ms Bussenschutt said.

The WA Museum would like to thank everyone who provided information during this investigation.

“Throughout this process we also found out about three other vessels that were wrecked in the area – two of which there were no records of previously,” Dr Anderson said.

“It just goes to show how much valuable information is held by the community!”

Verified information is being added to the Museum’s shipwreck database and is helping document the evolution of the Mid West crayfishing trade.