Responsible Wreck Diving
Shipwrecks offer adventure and are often included among the best dive sites in the world. Divers must be responsible when exploring these submerged sites, looking after themselves, the environment and the cultural heritage. It's important to adhere to special considerations:
Respect the Heritage and Loss
Wrecks of military vessels or aircraft are often the last resting place of men and women who gave their lives while serving their nation. Treat these war graves with respect and honor to commemorate the lives sacrificed for their country. Protect underwater graves as you would any burial ground or memorial.
Respect the Environment
Low impact dive techniques are essential in preserving fragile wreck sites. It's important to fine-tune your buoyancy and streamline your equipment to avoid disturbing or damaging the artificial reef habitat during your dive. Use care to avoid touching the wreck with your hands, knees or fins. Whenever possible, use a mooring line instead of tying or anchoring on sites in a manner that may cause disturbance. Remember, many wrecks are habitats for entire ecosystems.
Resist the temptation to remove anything from wreck sites. Taking souvenirs for yourself often limits interest and enjoyment for future divers. Wrecks are not renewable resources; important archeological evidence can be lost if an object is removed. As divers, we are merely visitors to these sites. As such, we are responsible for leaving the wrecks as we found them. Take photos rather than souvenirs, so that wrecks remain intact for future generations.
Respect Your Limitations
Wrecks have claimed the lives of inadequately prepared divers. Exploring wrecks requires experience and supplemental skill training such as the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course. This is especially true with regard to entering intact shipwrecks. Training for other overhead environments, such as caverns or caves, does not qualify you to enter wrecks. Know your personal limitations and dive ability. If necessary, seek additional training with a qualified instructor prior to wreck diving activities.
Respect the Law
Know and obey all local laws and regulations when wreck diving, such as diver access, restricted areas, fish and game laws and collecting and reporting underwater finds. In many instances, these laws exist for your safety and protection.
Many military vessels laid to rest at sea still contain hazardous materials such as oil, firearms, heavy containers and munitions. In most cases, transporting these materials or bringing them ashore is far more dangerous than leaving them alone. For your safety and the safety of others, do not recover or interfere with dangerous materials.
Respect the History and Archeology
Shipwrecks hold clues to our maritime past. Therefore, it's important not to disturb these submerged historical sites. As a diver, if you find an object or wreck that may be of historical importance, leave it where it lies, mark its position and seek advice from the local government authority who looks after historical and archeological finds.
Source: Project Aware
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