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A lucky Phuket diver enjoys a cockpit in the now departed Sky Dive Reef

Wanted: A Shipwreck for Every Phuket Beach

Monday, August 24, 2009
Photo Tribute Album Above

PHUKET'S underwater squadron in the Sky Dive Reef has lost a battle, not the war, says Thailand Diving Association CEO Rainer Gottwald.

Most of the artificial reef, sunk off Bang Tao beach with a lot of effort and ceremony, has been battered into pieces. Only one aircraft remains.

''It's very sad,'' Mr Gottwald said. ''But we have to keep trying to preserve the environment.''

The Sky Dive Reef, also known as the Coral Reef Squadron, was a bold idea to offer alternative diving that would have relieved some of the pressure on the region's natural reefs.

''It was working very well,'' Mr Gottwald said. ''We had reports of sharks and manta rays around it. The site was being used by divers every day and thousands of divers went to see it.''

Now the appeal is going out for large, unwanted steel vessels that can be sunk off every beach around Phuket.

''The best material is steel,'' Mr Gottwald said. ''The aluminium of the planes and the helicopters was quickly damaged by trawler nets, anchors and winches.''

Mr Gottwald said the TDA, now headquartered on Phuket, plans to go ahead with the artificial reef program with the intention of learning from the first attempt.

''In the US they built an artificial reef from thousands of tyres, then discovered they were not good for the environment and spent a fortune taking them out again,'' he said.

''We know that the right kind of artificial reefs will be good for the environment, good for diving, and good for fishing. We really need to do something for our environment.''

Train carriages are another alternative, although globally, shipwrecks have been the most successful attractor of both fish and tourists.

Local authorities have supported the continuation of the project and the publicity surrounding the first attempt had been of huge benefit, Mr Gottwald said.

A TDA team, including one representative from Phuket, is currently taking part in the Fin Swim World Championships in Russia.

Phuket and regional schools have the opportunity for students to qualify as TDA Marine Environmental Scouts. A one-day course teaches students under 15 about mangroves and marine sustainability.

Every qualifying student is issued with a reference diary. Teachers who wish to be involved can call Mr Gottwald on 089 736 4409.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


What a waste of taxpayers money.

This is an embarrassment! There is no way that thousands of divers dived this site. More like a handfull. The planes were sunk at the beginning of the low season so it was virtually undived.

What a disgrace!

Posted by Dave on August 24, 2009 17:53


Any idea why the CEO of "Thailand Diving Association" is not a Thai National?
And if Mr Gottwald claims that the Air Wrecks were Wrecked by the monsoon season, uh DUH, everyone, including the little 10 years old local Thai kids, knew about our "SURFING" months. No body get in to dive off any beaches because of the current, rip tides etc.

Not much was gained from all the hooplas ceremony, except for TDA parading themselves in front of cameras to self-promote CMAS.

Posted by tdo on August 24, 2009 18:55

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