Text Nick Coburn Phillips, Photos Imran Ahmad

Wrecks have a profound effect upon marine wildlife. Built in all shapes and sizes and different materials, their contours and often-varied superstructure give rise to a myriad of “micro-habitats” upon which life can thrive!

Besides the substrate, which many of these “historic wonders” of man-made architecture sit upon, the setting of another dimension, that of height, adds another aspect for marine life to proliferate, adding a 3D structure, one where flow may occur through x, y or z orientation, thus creating a more varied habitat.

Life abundant: The Kuda Giri wreck at 31 metres in the waters of the Maldives

Surface roughness, primary algal bio-adhesion and the deteriorating process of rusting add to the complexity of a metal superstructure by creating additional contours and texture to the already existing wreck. Varied colonisation occurs, building up a biological matrix (biotic factors) of both flora and fauna, complete with interstices for flow to occur. Growth is fuelled by nutrients, which bathe the wreck and currents, often whizzing through portholes and engine rooms, adding to larval recruitment!

Many creatures extract particulate organic matter by active filtration, such as mussels, and whilst some pumping occurs, sponges are mostly passive filterers. These organisms lay down mats and “byssal” threads, which further increase the micro-matrix and surface area upon which other marine animals such as encrusting corals can thrive.

A sealife haven: The Kubu wreck at 11–20 metres in Tulamben, Bali, just down the road from the USAT Liberty wreck

The wreck height and size also affect currents generated by the wreck and in turn affect the natural currents surrounding the wreck, often creating eddies, which alter the dynamic flow of the water. Sometimes scouring and maelstrom storm effects (an abiotic factor) are evident around the hull, which many divers tend to avoid by not delving deeper into the murk!

For the rest of this article (Asian Diver 2013 Issue 1 No 124) and other stories, check out our past issues here or download a digital copy here.

The 25th anniversary of the largest and longest running dive show, Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) is set to occur on the 11-14th April 2019 in Singapore. Centred on the theme – Plastic free Future, ADEX is more than just a dive show with its commitment to the environment. Among an exciting lineup of programs, attendees can look forward to a Future Forward Series of Panel Discussion on the Single-Use Plastic Conundrum in Asia, on 13th April.

So join us at the event, get inspired and for all you know, you might just liberate the inner diver in you! More details of the event here

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