Wreck Diving is a specific type of scuba diving that requires added skill and provides a fulfilling experience for adventure seekers.
Most wreck diving is done on shipwrecks, but it’s also common to explore sunken aircraft at the bottom of the sea floor.
It’s become so popular among diving enthusiasts that retired ships have purposely been submerged to add to shipwrecks that can easily be accessed by beginners. This is the EXHMAS Tobruk and the Roy Rufus Artificial Reef
But don’t be fooled—wreck diving with actual shipwrecks from many years ago and at much greater depths can be perilous even for certified scuba divers. Below, we describe the allure of wreck diving, common wrecks that divers explore, the different types of wreck diving, safety accessories that you’ll need to bring, and the potential dangers you need to consider before you embark on your first underwater expedition.
People wreck dive for a variety of reasons. For most, they’re drawn by the unique appeal of underwater wrecks. Physical remnants of a tragic tale present a mysterious thrill and have the power to inspire our imagination. It’s an adventure for both history buffs and natural explorers, and creates an unforgettable experience for all wreck divers.
Another reason why people consider exploring wrecks is that we don’t usually get to observe working and floating vessels up close. You can see everything, from large machinery and its parts, to ancient or cultural artifacts that may prove to be of monetary value. Historical shipwrecks can also be a fun and unique treasure hunting spot for you and your dive buddies—as long as the site is not protected by law.
Aside from the excitement of discovering a range of objects from maritime history, part of the beauty of shipwreck diving is seeing the unique effects of nature on the creations of man. After several years underwater, wreck parts will start growing and getting covered by corals to eventually become an artificial reef environment for marine life.
Some wreck divers get hired to search for prized items on wrecks or conduct explorations to assist with research. So whether you’re doing it to make sense of a tragedy, doing it professionally, or are simply in it for the thrill of discovery, wreck diving fulfills a curiosity within each of us and presents
Contrary to popular belief, not all wrecks are of pirate ships and floating vessels. Although they comprise the majority of wrecks that can be explored underwater, many other types of wrecks lie at the bottom of the ocean, like airplanes and submarines.
Airplanes are more common than submarines, especially since a lot of planes crashed during World War II. They’re also easily accessible as they can often be found in shallow water. On the other hand, submarines usually operate at greater depths, so they’re much more difficult to access.
The smaller fraction of more exotic wrecks that are explored underwater include everything from trains and buses to collapsed naval radar stations. A simple online search can give you over a hundred popular wreck dive sites to explore, but you can always ask your local scuba diving community for leads.
The world is aware of only a small fraction—less than 1%!—of the millions of sunken ships in the ocean, so you can surely look forward to a world full of discoveries for as long as you would wish to try wreck diving.
Types of Wreck Diving
Known as the least hazardous form of wreck diving, non-penetration diving involves swimming over the wreck. It is commonly performed by new scuba divers, although it still requires one to complete a wreck diver course to be able to quickly address the common risks that the activity could present, given the presence of tangled fishing nets and lines, as well as sharp edges.
Limited Penetration Diving (this is the EXHMAS Tobruk )
This type of recreational wreck diving involves entering the “light zone,” which is any visible part of the wreck that can be illuminated externally by ambient or natural lighting. Even if the diver doesn’t enter the wreck, penetration within the light zone and being in greater proximity to the wreck can present all kinds of hazards, depending on the type of wreck and its surroundings.
Full Penetration Diving
The most dangerous type of wreck diving involves technical diving and a greater level of risk. This is where you go beyond the “light zone,” which means you enter the darkness of the wreck and can get lost within it.
A diver can better understand the type of wreck diving that is suitable for them by considering their purpose, scuba diving training level, and diving experience, among other factors.
Dangers to avoid
Wreck diving is generally considered safe, thanks to modern diving technologies and extensive research in technical diving.
In fact, it’s usually less dangerous compared to ice diving or cave diving.
But given the many factors at play while diving at great depths, more so when exploring the unfamiliar, there can be potential problems that could become life-threatening if they are not resolved quickly. It helps to be aware of these common dangers to ensure that wreck diving can be safe and enjoyable for all divers.
We have to remember that wrecks can be unstable considering the length of time they’ve been submerged in water. Some wrecks can easily break apart, so it can be very dangerous to venture inside it as exit points can become blocked and heavy parts (like boilers and anchors) can fall on you when its support crumbles.
Wreck divers can get hurt even without getting trapped. They can suffer lacerations from sharp metals or corals that they may not be aware of, especially when diving through small spaces. Other injuries include decompression illness , a common and potentially life-threatening condition that divers suffer when breathing compressed air at depth.
There’s also the risk of getting snagged by fishing lines and nets since wrecks are often popular fishing sites. This is why you should be equipped with scuba diving accessories that will help you address and avoid these situations (more on this below).
Even with a flashlight, one can get lost inside a large wreck. This is why many wreck divers mark their exit routes or lay lines so they can safely return to their starting point.
When wreck diving, another risk that many divers would not expect is when a silt-out happens and they get covered in a cloud of sediment that could rapidly (and completely) reduce visibility. But more commonly, there’s the risk of losing your flashlight or running out of battery while you’re exploring the inside of a wreck.
You can get lost and become unassisted, but the real danger is when your breathing gas supply gets disrupted or runs out.
The dangers of wreck diving, which include other scuba diving risks like decompression sickness, can easily be avoided with training, practice, and upfront planning. It’s crucial that you don’t try it without adequate knowledge, skill, and confidence that wreck diving requires.
Safety Accessories for Wreck Diving
To give you an idea about essential wreck diving gear , here are some of the key items that wreck divers bring with them to keep themselves safe during every underwater exploration.
A dive light is especially important since you’ll need as much visibility as possible. Even when you’re planning to just hover over the wreck, artificial light will help you appreciate the wreck better.
There are several types ofdive torches aside from an underwater flashlight that can survive great depths and water pressures. Here’s how to choose a dive lght /torch
But no matter what you choose, make sure you have a spare light and batteries in case you run out.
Dive knives are a must-have for every diver, and it can be the very thing that could save you in case you get tangled in fishing nets or lines while exploring wrecks. Choose one that doesn’t corrode in salt water and comes with a protective sheath.
We recommend something which is both a scissor and a knife so you can easily cut through nets, lines, ropes, and the like.
Wreck Line and Reel
Wreck reels or wreck spools are loaded with a penetration line that will help guide your way out of a wreck, especially when visibility is reduced. Just like a fishing line, it releases more line as you dive further or deeper from your starting point.
ensuring that that your line won’t jam or break even after multiple wreck dives. It also has a large and sturdy stainless steel bolt snap at the end so you can easily clip the end of your line to your dive boat or buddy.
Underwater slates are basically writing surfaces that you can use to communicate with your dive partner, jot down important notes, or map out the wreck.
Extra breathing gas
If you’re going deep underwater to explore a wreck, use extra breathing gas just in case. If worse comes to worst, you won’t have to worry about running out of air and risking your life in case you get stuck or lost in the wreck.
Dive Table/Dive Computer
A dive table or dive computer is another essential scuba diving accessory. Or old fashioned dive tables compared to dive computers, but both are extremely helpful in providing the necessary information to help avoid decompression sickness.
Dive computers are easier to use and are packed with many other features, like the ability to log dives and geotag your location, but they are a lot pricier than dive tables. We recommend having both, in case you need instant data or your computer fails
Not only will gloves help keep your hands warm and maybe even improve your grip, but it also keeps your hands protected. Wrecks have tons of sharp edges, and more so as it turns into a reef covered in hard corals. It’s best to wear a durable and comfortable pair
Our Two reefs that can be :
Dived in Hervey Bay
Include the EXHMAS Tobruk
About 25 Nautical Miles out to sea
Or 1.5 to 2 hours travel one way
The depth varies from
14 metres to 32 metres
Roy Rufus Artificial Reef
About 5 nautical miles
Or half an hour travel to the site
This site can be as shallow as 12 metres and up to 20 metres deep
There is lots of fringing reef around the Woody Islands