What lies beneath the blue?

Last Updated 22 August 2014, 15:33 IST

A special scuba experience, wreck diving offers a unique tryst with history, adventure and nature, avers Sunil Bakshi

Life is an adventure, to be experienced to the fullest. Our wanderlust makes us want to see as much of this incredible world as we can. Since our planet is two-thirds water and ninety percent of life forms are found under the ocean, exploring underwater enchantments is a must for a complete experience. And there are countless treasures to be found in the underwater world.

For those who have been there and done that, here’s something more
exciting. It’s called wreck diving. A truly magical experience, it is a special scuba adventure, where the diver explores a “shipwreck” sunk in the middle of the ocean.

The thrill is in seeing a ship that has lain undisturbed for decades –
perhaps, even centuries. A chance to explore what has been out of reach for so long…Indians are discovering wreck diving with enthusiasm, and travelling to
destinations in Indian and foreign waters for the experience. Some are attracted by the adventure, others by their love of the ocean or history.

The ‘Inket Wreck’ at Duncan Island in the Andaman Islands is a perfect
example of an exciting wreck. Inket was a Japanese ship that sank here in WWII. This is a direct, important clue for a little-known historical fact about the Andaman Islands – the part of India that was once occupied by the Japanese forces in WWII.

When you are down at the Inket, you see the bow of the ship that rests on its starboard side with hatches and cargo hold clearly visible. An enormous
propeller is the star attraction at the stern, which sits upright in 18 metres of water; and parts of the boilers and engine room are intact along with a
second, spare propeller.

Coral encrusts the ship’s skeleton, and beautiful butterfly fish, trevallies, fusiliers, damsel fish, sea anemone and clownfish are abundant. The word around is that the 2004 tsunami straightened out the 70-metre wreck that was lying on its side. This dive site is ideal for advanced divers, but sometimes conditions are suitable for beginner level divers too.

Diver-training organisations, such as PADI (Professional Association of Underwater Instructors), provide specialist wreck diver training courses that teach skills like air management and the proper use of guidelines and reels. Earlier, one had to go abroad to get trained in the specialty modules such as wreck diving, but now the
training also happens in India, courtesy its growing popularity.

Another good news is that wreck diving is relatively affordable since there are opportunities in India itself. For instance, the pretty MV Mars wreck near Havelock Island in the Andamans.

This is a small fishing boat that sank during a storm in 2006 and came to rest on the sandy bottom just off the reef, in 15 metres of water. The boat stands upright, fully intact and tilting slightly to the port side, with the roof of the wheelhouse rising up to seven metres. This is a comparatively easy dive, ideal for students and beginners. There are also wrecks in Goa (Suzy’s Wreck), and several off the coast of Tamil Nadu.

Aren’t you tempted enough to take the plunge? In case you are still pondering, here go five reasons why you must go for it: History, adventure and nature A sunken shipwreck becomes an  artificial reef, creating a habitat for many types of marine life.

It also, often, has an exciting or tragic history. It is part of the underwater cultural heritage and may be an important archaeological resource, providing an insightful peek into our maritime heritage and history. Besides, it presents new
challenges for scuba divers.

Travel to exotic places

If you love to explore new destinations, wreck diving is perfect for you! Your quest will take you to exotic, beautiful places such as the truk lagoon (chuuk lagoon) in Micronesia or some gorgeous Caribbean Island.

Part of the ‘dive tribe’

When you go on a wreck diving adventure, you are sure to meet interesting people from all over the world who share the same passion as you. Don’t be surprised if you feel like a new member of the great family!

A ‘family adventure’

Scuba diving is one of the few activities that can be done together by a family, across generations, with varying levels of fitness. So, go wreck diving with your spouse and children or entire extended family – after the necessary training and certification, of course! The incredible shared experience is sure to forge a unique bond, apart from creating a memory that will last a lifetime.

Boost health and wellness

There are many proven emotional and physical wellness benefits of going in for an underwater adventure. It will, certainly, be exhilarating, awe-inspiring, relaxing, rejuvenating, fun and much more. It’s worth a try!

(The writer is the founder & CEO, the Infiniti Live-aboard)

(Published 22 August 2014, 15:32 IST)

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