Picture credit : Jennifer Dowling
Artificial Reef construction has been conducted for thousands of years. It was used in war by Persians and Romans as tool to trap enemy ships. In the last few hundred years, there was a realisation that fish populations could be increased by the usage of artificial reef building.
Wrecks are popular for using as an artificial reef for a variety of reasons. They do not look out of place in the ocean. Once in the ocean they gather marine life very quickly. They can also be used for diver training or recreation diving purposes.
On Koh Tao, we have a choice of wrecks. For the recreational divers we have a small wreck in Tanote Bay (a catamaran), and we have the HTMS Sattakut, which was sunk deliberately in 2011 for divers on Koh Tao to enjoy.
More recently, a few illegally registered fishing boats were sunk about 1km offshore. The boats were stripped of all machinery and any damaging materials to the ocean or fish. The hull of the boats were then filled with concrete to keep the heavy, and then holes made so that the boats would sink.
We have recently been exploring the area to study the marine life that is being attracted to the wrecks, and also assessing the safety aspect for recreational divers. They are sitting in quite deep water (32-38m) so can provide challenging.
So far, we have located 3 and are still searching for the 4th one…