A few weeks ago, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of swimming around a sunken ship. It wasn’t a pirate ship, it wasn’t full of skeletons or treasure, and thankfully also didn’t have any Great White Sharks in it. We went on a camping trip to Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane, where there are several artificial reefs.
The beach where we camped is home to a handful of decommissioned ships that were sunk only a short swimming distance from the shore. They are rusted, broken, and a home for tons of unique and beautiful fish species.
We were able to swim right out to them and explore their many pockets and surfaces. The water was absolutely freezing (we are now going into Autumn), but seeing the colorful and plentiful fish and getting to swim among the old ships was completely worth it. I can’t name most of them, but they came out of the murky water in all shapes, sizes, and colors and weren’t shy about being around us and all of the other swimmers in the area.
The reefs are a pretty cool concept- beneficial for both the natural world and tourism for the island. Artificial reefs come in many shapes and sizes, most of which you can find in the water around several of the islands off the coast of Queensland.
Besides the super cool old ships, there are “fish boxes” and “fish balls,” geometric sculptures placed on the ocean floor in clumps that give fish shelter from predators and a place to live. They also provide places for coral to grow, encouraging new natural reefs to form where there was only flat emptiness.
We chose to go snorkeling on our trip, but the reefs are advertised by the Queensland government as places were people can spearfish, scuba dive, or fish for recreation, depending on the specific location. Some have even become commercial fishing areas.
Although it was tricky for me to overcome my fear of the deep water and the possibility of encountering sharks (besides the pretty chill wobbegong sharks that were lurking on the bottom), it was a really amazing experience. I got to live out my fantasy of swimming in a shipwreck, and that’s not something I’ll forget anytime soon.
As it turns out, there are artificial reefs around the world. If you’re wanting to check one out, here are some lists of incredible wreck diving spots!
http://www.livescience.com/54487-outstanding-artificial-reefs-to-visit.html (check out “The Silent Evolution”)