A World Heritage site — one that is listed by UNESCO as in danger — the Belize Barrier Reef contains deep waters in and around its cayes and atolls that have never been explored. Since August 6, Mike Brennan ’04 has been leading an underwater mapping and exploration of the reef, using cameras mounted on a remotely operated vehicle to provide a live view of the deep-sea world. The crew has posted highlights of the expedition, including footage of a sunken German U-Boat and a vampire squid.
At Bowdoin, Brennan majored in geology and archaeology, and did an honors thesis under the direction of the late professor Leslie Shaw. Shaw conducted archaeological excavations at the Maya site of Maax Na in northwestern Belize, and Brennan was a member of the project staff. Several years ago, Shaw encouraged Brennan to explore and map the Belizean reef, and to include an archeological survey for Maya and historic shipwrecks.
Brennan earned a masters degree in archaeology in 2008 and a Ph.D. in geological oceanography in 2012 at the University of Rhode Island. He is now director of marine archaeology and maritime history at the Ocean Exploration Trust. His research focuses on environmental assessments of shipwreck sites from ancient times to World War II.