We have all watched television and marveled at the presentations of renowned underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, or the movie fiction of Peter Benchley’s "Jaws" or "the Deep." they have given us a glimpse into the strange underwater world that few of us get to explore. Yet how many people have sat along the water’s edge and wondered what mysteries must lay beneath the waves?


There are thousands of certified scuba divers in Spain and many more from neighbouring Mediterranean countries the sport is enjoyed by a large cross-section of people. Most of the organizations that train divers set a minimum age limit of 12. At the upper end, many divers over the age of 80 have entered the undersea world.


Why do we divers venture into this undersea domain? The answer lies with the individual. For some, it is the chance to discover the mystery and beauty of an alien world. For others, it is the ability to glide and soar effortlessly over vast reefs whose colours and panorama of fish and coral life seem like paintings come to life.


This picture is somewhat different for UK divers. Here, the warm, clear waters of the Mediterranean are replaced by the cooler blue-green waters of the Atlantic, the North and Irish seas.


The UK diver trades the tranquil setting of the coral reefs for the intrigue of shipwrecks. The mere mention of the word "shipwrecks" conjures visions of pirate ships laden with treasure, or maritime disasters like the tragedy of Titanic. A typical UK dive trip could begin with a visit to the wreck of the Pandora, followed by visits to several more commonplace or unknown shipwrecks. These wrecks provide gathering areas for diverse marine life that feeds in the nutrient-rich waters off the UK shore. The normally barren, sandy ocean floor offers the marine community very little in the way of shelter and food sources. Shipwrecks solve this dilemma. These derelict and decaying hulks are transformed into reef communities full of colorful cold-water corals and anemones.


The shipwrecks, once victims to violent storms, collisions, fires and the misfortunes of war, are no longer able to provide transport and passage. Their human captain and crew are replaced by Sea Bass, Ling and Pollock which now patrol the decks and cargo holds. Jumbled piles of machinery and debris offer hiding places for lobster and crabs. Every available space is utilized and life is everywhere! These wrecks resemble small islands under the sea communities where fish are the residents and scuba divers are the tourists.


Our coast line here on the Costa Blanca could benefit from a few more strategically placed wrecks, these would provide refuge and protection for the marine life, away from the fishing boats with their micron mesh nets that rip up the sea bed. I am not suggesting that we have more maritime disasters, God forbid! No I’m suggesting sinking some of the many redundant vessels that litter our water ways and harbours awaiting the scrap man’s call. They would also provide a boost to the local Scuba Diving environment and the tourist industry.


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