Diving the HMAS Adelaide shipwreck reef
THE BENEFITS OF artificially created reefs have been known by fishers for hundreds of years. By providing complex habitats, with hidey-holes and variable levels of light and current – and by diverting nutrient-rich cold water up from the sea floor – they quickly become encrusted with life.
One of Australia’s most recent, large artificial reefs is the 138m frigate HMAS Adelaide. It was intentionally sunk in 35m of water 1.5km off the Central Coast of NSW in 2011. Once home to Aussie sailors involved in the Gulf War and peacekeeping operations in East Timor, it became home to myriad species within months of being scuttled.
Cuttlefish now inhabit the steering gear. Toilets and sinks are full of prawns, crabs and octopus. Kingfish shoot through the doors and batfish keep watch outside the wheelhouse. There are tube-living worms, algae, sponges and barnacles, large grouper, Moorish idols and moon wrasse.
Turtles, seals, dolphins and whales visit, as have more than 5000 divers who pay a permit fee of $18 each to explore the wreck.
Read the full story in issue 114 (May/Jun) of the Australian Geographic journal.
10 great shipwreck dives around Australia
Historic shipwrecks around Australia
Australia’s worst maritime disaster
HMAS Sydney wreck makes National Heritage list
World Heritage sites of Australia
HMAS Adelaide finds watery grave