Friday, May 29, 2009

Is the Vandenberg Glorified Garbage?

Mark Powell has an opposing opinion over at his blog on the sinking of the Vandenberg.

I guess [putting garbage in the ocean on purpose is] ok if you sink a big old warship and call it a "reef." In fact, it's not only OK, it's an economic opportunity. Project officials expect the $8 million cost of the project to be recovered in just a year of wreck-diving related revenue.

I like to dive underwater and look at things, but I've never understood the fascination with diving on wrecks. I'd rather look at ocean stuff than human stuff underwater. If I want to see deteriorating hulks, I can just go to a junkyard.

A bit sour for our taste -- as we absolutely love diving wrecks. It's probably safe to say the vast majority of the dive community supported and cheered the sinking on the decommissioned 1944 war ship.

But is it a stretch to at least understand why a conservationist like Powell would be a bit more pessimistic? His basic premise is that we should be putting more resources "into natural habitats" and "making natural diving better".

Fair enough.

However, commenter Tony Wildish drives home what we believe to be the primary argument in response to those who share Powell's outlook on wrecks.

I was of a similar mind about diving on wrecks, why bother? Then I dived on a ship that was deliberately (cleaned and) sunk just off Machafushi in the Maldives. Compared to the house reef, there was a lot more variety on that wreck, it clearly enhanced the local ecosystem. The amount of life on it was just incredible, and I made a point of diving on it every day I was there.

I now believe that, done properly, sinking ships like this can be a valuable addition to a reef, and a sensible way to dispose of these things. Of course, I emphasise the 'done properly'!


Your thoughts?

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John K. said...

I understand his point to a certain extent. I don't really like the idea of "dumping" these unnatural items in the ocean, but if done properly, to the agreement of all parties affected, especially the scientific environmental community, I think the artificial reef-wrecks are a great way to give these old ships one last very useful purpose. In many areas there is a critical but mostly natural shortage of habitat for fish. These wrecks provide very helpful habitat that can become important to several species at once. I can think of several more locations where the local fish would absolutely benefit from a large habitat like a big ship.

Neutral Dive Gear said...

Precisely! Well put, John.