Get Regular Updates!
|Volunteers use 3D imaging to map shipwrecks




Volunteers use 3D imaging to map shipwrecks

Volunteers use 3D imaging to map shipwrecks

Did you know there are over 600 shipwrecks in the Swan River and off the coast of WA? A group of volunteers in Perth have been working with the WA Museum since 1974 to help with mapping and inspecting them.

Volunteers use 3D imaging to map shipwrecks

MAAWA (the Maritime Archaeological Association of Western Australia) provides members with the opportunity to dive on shipwrecks.

They have the opportunity to participate in research and management of maritime archaeological heritage sites all around the coast of WA.

MAAWA’s Secretary Patrick Morrison says, historically, a lot of wrecks were inspected by MAAWA in the 70s and 80s.

More recently, he says members have started investigating 3D photogrammetry, which has reinvigorated the group.

View Larger
Image|David Jackson (MAAWA)
Patrick Morrison on the North Mole wreck

3D mapping of shipwreck sites

The Perth Region Maritime Archaeology 3-Dimensional Mapping Project aimed to record sites under water.

Patrick says, in the past, this involved taking measurements from photographs, but now, computers can do it by themselves.

“You can take a GoPro and run it over a site, as long as you have a good technique.”

An example is the wreck of SS Omeo off the coast at Coogee.

In 1991/92, the site was recorded, involving hundreds of hours and diving and 2 years of technical drawings.

Using photogrammetry, the site was recorded in 1 hour with a photo scan.

Video|Kevin Edwards
SS Omeo

“When you compare, you can see mistakes in the drawing—for example, the midline of the ship is actually curved,” Patrick says.

He says drawings are still useful, as they can tell different things about a site.

“But the drawing can be done from a 3D model rather than needing 2 years of diving.”

3D model of the Omeo wreck
. Credit: Kevin Edwards (MAAWA)
View Larger
Image |

Kevin Edwards (MAAWA)

3D model of the Omeo wreck
Omeo 3D model compared to Google Earth image of wreck at Coogee
. Credit: Kevin Edwards (MAAWA)
View Larger
Image |

Kevin Edwards (MAAWA)

Omeo 3D model compared to Google Earth image of wreck at Coogee

The group is now testing a feasible and cost-effective way for MAAWA to continue this work.

App registers shipwrecks in WA

The Shipwrecks WA app lets you search a register of shipwrecks along the Swan and Canning Rivers, around the shores of Rottnest Island and the Perth coast.

Patrick says there are over 40 years of wreck inspections sitting in archive boxes in the museum or members’ garages.

With funding from Lotterywest, MAAWA member Ian Warne has been working through these libraries and archives to make the data accessible for people wanting to dive sites.

With around 500 to 600 shipwrecks along the coast and in the river, that’s a lot of information!

“The earliest wreck we have is the Trial from 1622,” Patrick says.

Wrecks include the Mira Floras, 12m under water off Rottnest, which is well protected by reef.

View Larger
Image|David Jackson (MAAWA)
Volunteer Nick Sargeant diving on the Mira Flores

There’s also the Macedon and Denton Holme, two large wrecks on Transit Reef in the Rottnest Sanctuary Zone, which are visible when snorkelling.

Recording dump sites in the Swan River

Quite a different story is the Swan River project SCRIMSHAW. This project involves recording things in the river like dump sites.

“Blackwall Reach is notorious for this type of thing—cars and bikes and shopping trolleys are found there,” Patrick says.

“This can tell us a different side—stories about why someone would want to throw a car off a cliff!”

There’s also of lot of wrecks, industry sites, a soap factory and debris from a slipway, plus a tunnel going 120 metres into the cliffs of Rocky Bay.

MAAWA is digitising all of this information and will be running workshops over the next few months.

How to get involved

Currently, around 10 to 15 people are regularly involved in fieldwork, with the group meeting on the third Tuesday of every month at the Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle.

“People can show up and hear about what we’ve been doing and what fieldwork is coming up,” Patrick says.

View Larger
Image|Dave Jackson (MAAWA)
Volunteer Shannon Reid records information on a wreck off Rottnest

They also have guest speakers and training courses. Check out MAAWA’s Facebook page for more information.

Particle Puns


Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.


You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.


Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.


All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.


For more information about using our content, email us:

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?