Why Are Some Divers So Obsessed With Wreck Diving?

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Edney, Jo. "Why Are Some Divers So Obsessed With Wreck Diving?" ThoughtCo, Jan. 28, 2016, thoughtco.com/some-divers-obsessed-with-wreck-diving-2963345. Edney, Jo. (2016, January 28). Why Are Some Divers So Obsessed With Wreck Diving? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/some-divers-obsessed-with-wreck-diving-2963345 Edney, Jo. "Why Are Some Divers So Obsessed With Wreck Diving?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/some-divers-obsessed-with-wreck-diving-2963345 (accessed September 22, 2017).

There's a reason so many divers are obsessed with wreck diving! Shipwrecks are mysterious and exciting, and encountering one on the ocean floor lends a diver an almost indefineable sense of discovery. Shipwrecks can be beautiful and horrifying at the same time, and wreck diving  is often a very evocative and emotional experience. If you feel that it's time to add a new dimension to your diving, to try something a bit more challenging, and wreck diving might be just what you are looking for.  Here's some reasons that wreck diving is so addicting.

Shipwrecks Are Incredibly Diverse in Nature

Wreck Diving, Underwater Pottery, Shipwreck Pottery, Scuba Diving
Divers discover remains of pottery on ancient shipwrecks. © Getty Images

Shipwrecks are extremely diverse and interesting. They include all manner of vessels from submarines to cargo ships, passenger liners, fishing vessels, warships and everything in-between. Divers can explore ancient finds, like the Roman wrecks in the Mediterranean Sea, or newer wrecks from recent history. Some wrecks require an archeologist's eye to assemble the scattered pieces, while others are fully intact and still contain the cargo they were carrying when they sank. With so many types of shipwrecks underwater, it's almost impossible to get bored with wreck diving. There is always another story to learn or a new discovery to investigate!

Wreck Diving Takes You to Unusual Destinations

Wreck Diving, Scapa Flow Diving, German Battleship Wreck
Scotland. An odd-sounding dive destination until you learn about Scapa Flow, a wreck diver's dream. © Getty Images

Wrecks can be found in a wide range of environments: oceans, bays, estuaries, rivers, lakes and even some flooded quarries. You can dive over wrecks in tropical waters or in polar environments, and at a variety of depths. No matter where you live or what level of diving experience you have, a little investigation will nearly always reveal a wreck that is just right for you to explore.

Wreck diving hot spots include Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon, in the Federated States of Micronesia, Scapa Flow in the United Kingdom, the Graveyard of the Atlantic off the east coast of the United States, and the Great Lakes in North America. If you get hooked on wreck diving, your adventures make take you to interesting places you would never otherwise have visited. Need ideas? Here's 10 Top Wreck Diving Destinations.

Wreck Diving Allows You to Experience History in a New Way

Wreck Diving, Scuba Diving, Truk Lagoon Diving, Truk Lagoon Tank
A diver investigates a WWII shipwreck still carrying a battle tank in Truk Lagoon. © Getty Images

Shipwrecks are created as the result of conflict, tragedy or misadventure. Each wreck has its own story; how it arrived at its final resting place, and how it spent its working life. These stories may involve historic weather events, exploration expeditions, or war tragedies. Learning about a wreck's history makes your dives on it even more interesting. 

Man-Made Wrecks Are Often Some of the Best Dive Sites!

Kittiwake Shipwreck in te Cayman Islands
The USS Kittiwake is a man-made shipwreck that had become a popular wreck diving destination. © Getty Images

Man-made wrecks are created especially for divers, and often serve as reef substrate, attracting fish and wildlife from an otherwise barren seascape. These wrecks are usually prepared for divers, with cables and entanglement hazards removed, and they are cleaned before sinking so that they do not create an ecological nightmare.  Often, these wrecks have interesting stories about their prior service or how they came to be purposefully sunk for divers.

Some well-known examples from around the world of wrecks that have been sunk for divers include the HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Swan in Australia, Chaudiere and Saskatchewan in Canada, USS Kittiwake in the Cayman Islands, P29 Minesweeper Patrol Boat and Um El Faroud in Malta, HMNZS Canterbury in New Zealand, Smitswinkel Bay wrecks in South Africa, HTMS Sattakut and HTMS Chang in Thailand, HMS Scylla in the United Kingdom, and, USS Spiegel Grove and USS Oriskany in the United States.

To watch what happens when a wreck is sunk on purpose, check out this video of the USS Kittiwake's Sinking.

There's More to Wreck Diving Than Just *Ship* Wrecks

Scuba diving the wreck of an airplane in Tahiti.
A different kind of wreck: airplane wreck in Tahiti. © Getty Images

Wreck diving isn’t just limited to shipwrecks! Wreck divers can explore sunken aircraft, vehicles, trains and even logistics dumps from major wars.

You might be wondering why anyone would want to dive at a dump site. They can be really interesting because you can dive through variety of vessels, vehicles, plant machinery and other equipment that was discarded into the sea rather to avoid transporting it home at the end of a war. A popular World War II logistics dump visited by divers is Million Dollar Point in Vanuatu, which is very close to the infamous wreck of the SS President Coolidge.

Training Is Not Required to Visit a Shipwreck

Scuba diving at Million Dollar Point
A scuba diver swims over wrecks at a military dump at Million Dollar Point, Vanuatu. © Getty Images

Getting started in wreck diving is easier than it sounds. You just need an interest in wrecks and an open water certification. There is generally no formal requirement to go wreck diving if you just want to swim around the outside of a wreck or explore a scattered wreck site. However you will enjoy your wreck dives more if you learn more about wrecks and wreck diving techniques through a wreck diving course. If you want go inside shipwrecks, you need wreck diver training. Wreck penetration is a serious endeavor, and there are many hazards and risks of wreck penetration not present when a diver enjoys a wreck from the outside.

The Wreck Diver Course Will Still Benefit Most Divers!

Scuba divers enjoying a shipwreck in the caribbean.
Scuba divers swim over a shipwreck in the Caribbean. © Getty Images

All of the dive certification organizations offer wreck diver training courses, and even if you don’t think wreck penetration is not your interest, a wreck diving course will help you to get even more enjoyment out of wreck diving. You can not only learn the skills needed to safely and enjoyably dive in and around wrecks, but also learn about how to do your own research into wrecks.

Knowing how to research wrecks means you can find out more about your favorite wrecks and learn more about their stories. I haven’t dived a wreck yet that doesn’t have at least one interesting story associated with it. Courses are also a great way to meet new dive buddies with the same kind of interests as you.

Be Careful! 

One note of caution to all divers regardless of level of experience – be careful, wreck diving is highly addictive!