reef scene #14 [127k]
Though now unrecognizable, this ship's mast is host to an almost incredible array of sea creatures. Sunk in 1944 during World War II, the Japanese freighter Kansho Maru is sitting upright on the bottom of Chuuk (formerly Truk) lagoon, its mast tip nearly exposed at the water's surface. Chuuk state is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, and is located about 950 kilometers southeast of Guam.

In some tropic areas, such as along the coast of the state of Florida, USA, ships that are otherwise only good for scrap metal are instead sanitized, then deliberately sunk in shallow water to provide an "artificial reef". Within days of sinking, corals begin to anchor themselves on the exposed parts of the ship, and fish take refuge in the myriad openings of the hull. Soon a thriving reef community exists in a place where the lack of a substrate for corals would otherwise have prevented the reef's existence. The wreck provides shelter for sea creatures as the salty sea slowly corrodes its structure, reclaiming its elements in a process that may take  hundreds of years.


related links:

Collier County, Florida (USA) Artificial Reef Program

Federated States of Micronesia official government site

"Welcome to Chuuk" (formerly Truk) diver destination page

"Human Impacts on Coral Reefs" info page by Kent Russell

back to Gallery III