Scuba Diving on Wrecks and Sunken Ships
Beyond exploring reefs and other underwater inhabitants of the deep, probably one of the most exciting, interesting and challenging dives for the recreational scuba diver is the Wreck Dive.
Wreck diving requires particular skills, and specialty certification is required before taking on the challenges of exploring a sunken ship or other wreck, but the additional training is well worth it.
Underwater wrecks are fascinating not only because of the history and the eerie feeling one gets exploring the decks and corridors of a vessel that once plied the surface, but underwater wrecks become havens for all manner of aquatic flora and fauna.
And while you do need an advanced scuba certification to become wreck diver certified, contrary to popular belief, wrecks are not necessarily deep-water dives; in fact there are many popular and interesting wreck dives that take place in relatively shallow waters.
Wrecks are irresistible to scuba divers. In fact not all wrecks are ships that met with a tragic fate in open waters, many wrecks were sunk intentionally for scuba divers to explore, or to be part of "artificial reefs" and build up marine habitats.
In either case, there is nothing quite like descending through the waters, bubbles trailing off behind you, the sound of your own breath quickening ever so slightly as a hulking shape beneath you begins to take on recognizable form. Suddenly a window, or door, or a gaping hole in the hull appears large enough to swim through, and your adventure begins as you swim back in time.
Not all wrecks are ships - plans, trains and even automobiles exsist below the surface, in fact my first experience with a wreck was encountering a '69 VW Beatle during my very first open water dive in a quarry in New Jersey.
Every sport or recreational scuba diver is at heart an explorer. Wreck diving also feeds the scuba divers desire to be an amateur archeologist, or even a treasure hunter. Wreck divers find many interesting artifacts even on recent wrecks.
Be sure to check with the local laws governing salvage and what you can keep and cannot keep regarding found items on a wreck - but even if you cannot keep your "treasures" diver finds contribute to historians and researchers by helping them identify and catalog ship wrecks.
As you might imagine there are great Wreck Dives all over the world, mankind has left its make all over the ocean floors for centuries. But some of the top rated Wreck Dives are located right here in the U.S.
Recently National Geographic Magazine listed "Wreck Diving off the Coast of Carolina" as one of its Top 10 Water Adventures. In these perilous waters of the Atlantic where Gulf Stream and Artic waters collide, more than 2000 ships have met their fate, making this "Graveyard of the Atlantic" one of the best sites for wreck diving in the world.
The very things that make scuba diving on wrecks interesting and exciting, make them a much more hazardous environment to the diver then ordinary open water diving. That is why advanced training is necessary to recognize and deal with the potential dangers in a wreck including shards of metal, entanglement hazards due to rigging, nets and lines, disorientation and a lot of metal that can render your compass useless.
Many dive experts suggest that when seeking advanced training specialties you take cavern and cave training along with wreck certification as many of the skills overlap, especially those involving penetration.
That is why the top certifying organizations often offer combined "adventure diving" certifications that include wreck diving, cavern/cave diving and another specialty like night diving. The more training you receive the safer diver and better steward of the marine environment you will become.