President Tom Fountain
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THE ARTIFICIAL REEFS OF BARBADOS
The variety and accessibility of the wrecks off the coast of Barbados has led our island to be known as the wreck diving capital of the Caribbean. Largely purposely sunk these wrecks have brought a number of benefits to recreational divers and the environment. Chief amongst these is their natural development as artificial reefs
Artificial reefs generally provide hard surfaces where algae and invertebrates such as barnacles, corals, and oysters attach; the accumulation of attached marine life in turn provides intricate structure and food for assemblages of fish. This interaction creates a complex habitat of living organisms.
Artificial reefs tend to develop in more or less predictable stages. First, where an ocean current encounters a vertical structure, it can create a plankton-rich upwelling that provides a reliable feeding spot for small fish. These in turn draw in larger pelagic predators like bluefin tuna and sharks. Next come creatures seeking protection from the ocean's lethal openness. Hole and crevice dwellers such as grouper, snapper, squirrelfish, eels, and triggerfish. Opportunistic predators such as jack and barracuda also appear, waiting for their prey to venture out. Over months and years the reef structure becomes encrusted with algae, tunicates, hard and soft corals, and sponges.
The wrecks of Barbados now offer great diversity of brilliantly coloured marine life including frog fish, sea horses, rays, barracudas, octopus, reef squid, mackerel, moray eel and more. A vast array of numerous varieties of coral and sponge growth adds orange, yellow, green and purple to the natural palette.
The Carlisle Bay protected area is host to 7 unique wrecks. This collection of wrecks has been accumulated over many years. These wrecks, lying in 25 - 40ft of water are all close enough to visit during the same dive. They are host to hundreds of tropicals that will eat from the hands of divers or snorkelers. Rare species such as frog fish, sea horses and batfish are also found at this site. This area is a macro photographer's dream.
- The Berwyn, a 70ft world war one French tug that sunk in 1919.
- The Marion Wolf, a small wooden fishing vessel. Sunk by hurricane Janet in 1955, little remains. The keel is visible and offers protection to schools of fish.
- Ce-Trek, a derelict 45 foot boat constructed of cement was sunk in January 1986.
- The Eillon, a 110 foot freighter sunk in 1996.
- The Bajan Queen was Barbados’ first tugboat named the “Pelican” when the Bridgetown Harbour was being constructed in the 1960’s. Subsequently a ‘party boat’ for tourists she was retired and sunk in 2002. At 120 feet long she is the largest wreck of the group.
- The Cornwallace a 60 FOOT section of a Canadian freighter that was sunk during the Second world War and relocated here in 2000. It is the bow section of the Cornwallace which was cut off and replaced after she was hit by a torpedo during the Second World War.
- A naval landing barge sunk in 2003.
Half a mile to the south of Carlisle Bay lays the Friars Craig, a 165ft freighter in 60 ft of water. Broken in three pieces, the twisted hull of this wreck is great to explore.
Dutch island freighter that sank in 1984 about a quarter mile offshore in 55 feet of water.
A 165 foot cargo ship deliberately sunk in 1985. Sister ship to the Friars Craig
the Pamir lays on the north western coast, also in 60ft of water. She is still intact and adorned with port holes and tropicals of a dozen varieties.
Nearby is also a recently sunk mini yellow submarine.
In 1978 a 400 ton Dutch container ship was towed to a spot just 400 yards offshore on the west coast of the island. On November 21, 1978, the U.S. Navy demolition crew set seven charges totaling 200 pounds and blew holes in the ship’s hull, causing her to sink. Thus the premier wreck of the Caribbean, the S.S. Stavronikita came to be off the coast of Barbados. This wreck dive is a must. She is 365ft long and sits bolt upright in 130ft. The propeller is the deepest point at around 130 feet. The shallowest part of the wreck is the top of the forward mast at around 20ft Cabin, alleyways and the cargo holds beckon you to peek. The enormous masts which come to within 20ft of the surface are coated with sponges, corals and hundreds of fish. This is one dive you cannot miss.
This small steel hulled Barge was sank in the early 1980's. Originally sailing under the name of the Governor of Barbados, the Lord Combermere now rest in shallow clear watersof 40 to 50 feet surrounded by fringing reefs. Abundant marine life and corals envelopes this 70 foot wreck.
The natural coral reefs of Barbados are vibrant and healthy but under tremendous pressure from the demands of modern recreation. Artificial reefs can ease this pressure by offering alternative attractions. Enormously popular it is to the great benefit of our natural heritage that these artificial reefs have been created.