By Becky Bauer - Allat Sea
When scuba divers reveal what they consider dream dives, many would say discovering a previously unknown wreck where they find an ancient Greek coin, a bar of Spanish silver or gold, an Etruscan jar, a Columbian emerald destined for royalty before a hurricane sank the ship, or a rare cannon once used by pirates after they appropriated it from the Royal Navy.
Only a very lucky few ever experience such dives due to the years required for researching ships’ records, obtaining permits, and funding often fruitless searches not to mention the secrecy required in those endeavors.
There are, however, multitudes of other wrecks throughout the world that bear their own wondrous treasures along with some danger.
The target of a wreck dive can be watercraft, aircraft, military equipment, and in the case of man-made bodies of fresh water, even the remains of churches, silos, barns, and homes.
There are two types of wreck diving. The first is open water surveying of the exterior of wrecks which we address herein.
With a watchful dive master or instructor, even the most novice divers can participate in these dives.
The second type of wreck dive is known as penetration diving wherein divers enter the wrecks eliminating not only ambient light but also direct access to the surface.
This type of wreck dive should unconditionally be considered technical diving and should never be attempted by divers who are not trained and certified for penetration diving by experts in the field.
Wrecks in place for several years are fantastic locations for finding marine life much like healthy reefs.
In fact, as more understanding is gained as to the critical importance of reefs in the survival of all marine life, the sinking of unwanted vessels to create artificial reefs has become an industry unto its own.
Sunken wrecks serve as nurseries for young animals as well as foundations for corals, sponges, and other incredibly interesting forms of marine life, often providing homes for creatures rarely seen otherwise.
On well-established wrecks, if one takes the time to truly observe, a microcosm of life in our oceans displays itself.
Prey and predator, from the smallest of juveniles to the top predators, inhabit these wrecks.