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The unique Baltic Sea

Nowhere else in the world are there as many well-preserved wooden wrecks as on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Information exists indicating that thousands of shipwrecks have ended up here, and all of the wrecks have not yet been discovered. 

People have lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea ever since the end of the Ice Age, close to 10,000 years ago. Water – seas, lakes, islands – has been vital to human life. People have travelled, sailed, hunted and waged war here, and traces of their activity remain under the sea’s surface. Because of the special water conditions, many unique wrecks and other remains, from the Stone Age up to the present day, have been preserved.

The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s busiest seas. Ship and ferry wrecks are like time capsules on the bottom of the sea. They can tell us about everything from major historical events to individual human fates, and can also reveal how boats are built and what objects were in use during different periods of time.

They constitute a cultural heritage, a memory of our history, which we share with all the people around the Baltic Sea.

No shipworms aboard the wrecks

The wrecks are exceptionally preserved thanks to the shipworm, which does not thrive in the Baltic Sea. The water in the Baltic Sea is cold and brackish. The shipworm is actually a small mollusk that lays its eggs in wood, and it likes saltwater. In salty seas and oceans, wrecks can vanish quite quickly as the larvae eat up the wood. Shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea can look just like they did when the ships sank, even though several hundred years have gone by.

Water that preserves

Thanks to a unique combination of brackish water, cold, darkness and low oxygen in the Baltic Sea, many materials – even wood – can be preserved in nearly perfect condition. An unexplored world and amazing experiences not to be found anywhere else in the world await those who wish to explore this sea.

The most well-known remains are wrecks of ships and boats, but the underwater heritage holds much more. Stone Age settlements, ship barriers from the Viking and medieval periods, and remnants of ports and industries make for a diverse and intriguing cultural heritage beneath the surface.

Looting

The biggest threats to this cultural heritage include shipwreck looting and a general lack of knowledge about what remains hidden beneath the water’s surface. That’s why it is important to bring to light the remains and environments on the seafloor.

Vrak – Museum of Wrecks works alongside municipalities, county administrative boards and other partners who want to develop new ways to make our underwater maritime heritage more accessible, even for people who are not divers.

Page last updated: 2021-06-07