Blacktip Island Gets Artificial Reef

A model aircraft carrier used in the film “Tomcats of Fury” is one of the ships slated to be sunk as an artificial reef.

A model aircraft carrier used in the film “Tomcats of Fury” is one of the ships slated to be sunk as an artificial reef.

In keeping with the trend of sinking retired ships to create artificial reefs, model warships used in numerous Hollywood films will be sunk off Blacktip Island’s west coast this week to create the island’s first artificial reef.

“They’re small, sure, but there’s a lot of them,” Director of Tourism Val Schrader said. “It may not be as dramatic as the artificial reefs in, say, Florida or the Cayman Islands, where they used full-sized ships, but we’re tickled pink nonetheless. Some islands larger than us don’t have an artificial reef at all.”

The plan has drawn protests from veterans groups, environmental organizations and cinematic professionals.

“If these craft aren’t properly cleaned, they could wreak havoc on incredibly fragile reef systems,” Harry Pickett of the Pelagic Society said. “One drop of airplane glue can wipe out a 1,000-year-old coral head. And they’re talking about dropping dozens of these things out there.”

Minnie Bilder, head of the Screen Propmakers Guild, voiced concern as well.

“These vessels have had long, dignified careers,” Bilder said. “They’re stars. They deserve better than to be chucked off a dive boat by a bunch of Jacques Cousteau wannabes building an amusement park.”

Schrader countered both objections.

“These models have been cleaned according to the highest international standards,” she said. “And we’re not going to just toss them overboard to settle willy-nilly on the coral. They’ll be taken down individually, with full honors, and placed on the sand in a dignified manner.

“This is win-win-win. The wrecks will attract divers to the island’s resorts, and the underwater structures will provide homes for fish and other marine creatures. It’s a boon for the economy and the ecosystem, and also allows the movie studios to free up warehouse storage space.

“We’re especially excited at the prospect of these ships providing homes for juvenile Goliath grouper,” Schrader said.”

Dives done on the miniature wrecks will count toward NAUI and PADI Miniature Wreck Diving specialty certifications.

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