Recreational dive sites

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Recreational diver over a coral reef in the Red Sea

Recreational dive sites include specific places that recreational scuba divers go to enjoy the underwater environment. This includes publicly accessible recreational diver training sites and technical diving sites beyond the range generally accepted for recreational diving. In this context all diving done for recreational purposes is included. Professional diving tends to be done where the job is, and with the exception of the recreational diving service industry, does not generally occur at specific sites chosen for their easy access, pleasant conditions or interesting features.

Recreational dive sites may be found in a wide range of bodies of water, and may be popular for various reasons, including accessibility, biodiversity, spectacular topography, historical interest and artifacts (such as shipwrecks), and water clarity. Tropical waters of high biodiversity and colourful sea life are popular recreational diving vacation destinations. Indonesia, the Caribbean islands, the Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia are regions where the clear, warm, waters and colourful and diverse sea life have made recreational diving an economically important tourist industry.

Recreational divers may accept a relatively high level of risk to dive at a site perceived to be of special interest. Wreck and cave diving have their adherents, and enthusiasts will endure considerable hardship, risk and expense to visit caves and wrecks where few have been before. Some sites are popular almost exclusively for their convenience for training and practice of skills, such as flooded quarries. They are generally found where more interesting and pleasant diving is not locally available, or may only be accessible when weather or water conditions permit.

Bodies of water commonly used for recreational diving[edit]

  • Sea and Ocean shorelines and shoals. These are salt water sites and may support high biodiversity of plant and animal life forms. Shipwrecks are also common on some coasts, and are very popular attractions for a large number of divers.
  • Lakes, usually containing fresh water. Large lakes have many features of seas including wrecks and a variety of aquatic life. Artificial lakes, such as clay pits, gravel pits, and quarries often have lower visibility. Some lakes are at high altitude and may require special considerations for altitude diving. Abandoned and flooded quarries are popular in inland areas for diver training and sometimes also recreational diving. Rock quarries may have reasonable underwater visibility as there is not as much mud or silt cause low visibility. As they are not natural environments and usually privately owned, quarries often contain features intentionally placed for divers to explore, such as sunken boats, automobiles, aircraft, and abandoned machinery and structures.
  • Rivers generally contain fresh water but are often shallow and murky and may have strong currents.
  • Caves containing water provide exotic and interesting, though relatively hazardous, opportunities for exploration.

Popular features of dive sites[edit]

NASA image [1] showing locations of significant coral reefs, which are often sought out by divers for their abundant, diverse life forms.

There are a wide range of underwater features which may contribute to the popularity of a dive site:

  • Accessibility is important, but not critical. Some divers will travel long distances at considerable cost to get to a site with exceptional features.
  • Biodiversity at the site: Popular examples are coral, sponges, fish, sting rays, molluscs, cetaceans, seals, sharks and crustaceans.
  • The Topography of the site: Coral reefs, walls (underwater cliffs), rocky reefs, gullies, caves and swim-throughs (short tunnels or arches) can be spectacular.
  • Historical or cultural items at the site: Shipwrecks, sunken aircraft and archaeological sites, apart from their historical value, form artificial habitats for marine life making them more attractive as dive sites.
  • Underwater visibility: This can vary widely between sites and with time and other conditions. Poor visibility is caused by suspended particles in the water, such as mud, silt, suspended organic matter and plankton. Currents and surge can stir up the particles. Rainfall runoff can carry particulate matter from the shore. Diving close to the sediments on the bottom can result in the particles being kicked up by the divers fins. Sites which generally have good visibility are preferred, but poor visibility will often be tolerated if the site is sufficiently attractive for other reasons.
  • Water temperature: Warm water diving is comfortable and convenient, and requires less equipment. Although cold water is uncomfortable and can cause hypothermia it can be interesting because different species of underwater life thrive in cold conditions.
  • Currents and tidal flows can transport nutrients to underwater environments increasing the variety and density of life at a site. Currents can also be dangerous to divers as they can carry the diver being away from the surface support or the planned exit point. Currents that flow over large obstructions can cause strong local vertical currents and turbulence that are dangerous because they may cause the diver to lose buoyancy control risking barotrauma, or impact against the bottom terrain.

Regions where recreational diving is a major tourist industry[edit]

Regions of notable biodiversity[edit]

Temperate[edit]

Recreational dive sites of the greater Cape Town region.
Marine bioregions of the South African coast

Tropical[edit]

Dive sites of unique or exceptional interest[edit]

Wreck dive sites[edit]

Vessel Name Position Location Country/Territory
Adolphus Busch Looe Key, Florida United States
USS Arthur W. Radford Cape May, New Jersey United States
HMAS Adelaide Avoca Beach, New South Wales Australia
Antipolis S33°59.06’ E018°21.37’ Oudekraal, Cape Town South Africa
Aster S34°03.891’ E018°20.955’ Hout Bay, Cape Town South Africa
RMS Athens S33°53.85’ E018°24.57’ Mouille Point, Cape Town South Africa
HNLMS Bato S34°10.998’ E018°25.560’ Simon's Town South Africa
Bia S34°16'12.7" E018°22'38.3" Olifantsbospunt, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USCGC Bibb[1] Florida United States
SAS Bloemfontein S34°14.655’ E018°39.952’ False Bay, Western Cape South Africa
Barge Boss 400 S34°02.216’ E018°18.573’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMAS Brisbane Mooloolaba, Queensland Australia
East Indiaman Brunswick S34°10.880’ E018°25.607’ Simon's Town, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMAS Canberra Barwon Heads, Victoria Australia
HMNZS Canterbury Bay of Islands New Zealand
HMCS Cape Breton[2] British Columbia Canada
Cape Matapan S34°53.233' E018°24.533' Table Bay, Cape Town South Africa
Captain Keith Tibbetts Cayman Brac Cayman Islands
CS Charles L Brown[3] Sint Eustatius Leeward Islands
HMCS Chaudière[2] British Columbia Canada
Clan Monroe S34°08.817' E18°18.949' Kommetjie, Cape Town South Africa
Clan Stuart S34°10.303’ E018°25.842’ Simon's Town, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMCS Columbia[2] British Columbia Canada
USCGC Cuyahoga Virginia Capes United States
Australian Army ship Crusader Flinders Reef off Cape Moreton, Queensland Australia
Daeyang Family Robben Island, Cape Town South Africa
Dania[4] Mombasa Kenya
SAS Fleur S34°10.832’ E018°33.895’ False Bay, Western Cape South Africa
USCGC Duane[1] Florida United States
Fontao Durban South Africa
G.B. Church[2] British Columbia Canada
SAS Gelderland S34°02.070’ E018°18.180’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Gemsbok Cape Town South Africa
SATS General Botha S34°13.679’ E018°38.290’ False Bay South Africa
USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10)[5] Key West, Florida United States
Glen Strathallan Plymouth United Kingdom
SAS Good Hope S34°16.054’ E018°28.850’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMAS Hobart Yankalilla Bay, South Australia Australia
VOIC ship Het Huis te Kraaiestein S33°58.85’ E018°21.65’ Oudekraal, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Barque Highfields S33°53’07.9” E18°25’49.8” Table Bay, Cape Town South Africa
Hypatia S33°50.10’ E018°22.90’ Robben Island, Cape Town South Africa
Inganess Bay[6] British Virgin Islands
Jura Lake Constance Switzerland
Katsu Maru S34°03.903’ E018°20.949’ Hout Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Keryavor and the Jo May S34°02.037’ E018°18.636’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USS Kittiwake West Bay, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
Lusitania S34°23.40’ E018°29.65’ Bellows Rock, Cape Point South Africa
HMCS Mackenzie[2] British Columbia Canada
Maori S34°02.062’ E018°18.793’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
MS Zenobia N 34°53.5’ E 33°39.1’ Larnaca, Cyprus European Union
HMCS Nipigon Quebec Canada
Oakburn S34°02.216’ E018°18.573’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USS Oriskany[7] Florida United States
MFV Orotava S34°15.998’ E018°28.774’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Oro Verde[8] Cayman Islands
P29 Patrol Boat Ċirkewwa Malta
P87 Simon's Town South Africa
HMAS Perth[9] Albany, Western Australia Australia
SAS Pietermaritzburg S34°13.300’ E018° 28.452’ Miller's Point, Western Cape near Simon’s Town South Africa
MFV Princess Elizabeth S34°16.068’ E018°28.839’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Quarry Barge S34°09.395’ E018°26.474’ Glencairn, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USS Rankin Stuart, Florida United States
Rockeater S34°16.127’ E018°28.890’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Romelia S34°00.700’ E018°19.860’ Llandudno, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Rozi Ċirkewwa Malta
SA Seafarer S33°53.80’ E018°23.80’ Mouille Point, Cape Town South Africa
HMCS Saskatchewan[2] British Columbia Canada
USS Scrimmage (MS Mahi) Waianae, Hawaii United States
HMS Scylla Whitsand Bay, Cornwall United Kingdom
USS Spiegel Grove[10] Florida United States
Stanegarth Stoney Cove United Kingdom
Star of Africa Albatross Rock, Cape Peninsula South Africa
SS Thistlegorm Ras Muhammad, Red Sea Egypt
HMAS Swan[11] Dunsborough, Western Australia Australia
T-Barge Durban South Africa
HMNZS Tui Tutukaka Heads New Zealand
Um El Faroud Qrendi Malta
Thomas T. Tucker Olifantsbospunt, Cape peninsula South Africa
SAS Transvaal S33°16.005’ E018°28.761’ Smitswinkel Bay South Africa
MV Treasure S 33°40.30’ E 18°19.90’ Koeberg South Africa
Umhlali S34°16.435' E18°22.487' Olifantsbospunt, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMNZS Waikato Tutukaka New Zealand
HMNZS Wellington Wellington New Zealand
"Wreck Alley" – The Marie L, The Pat and The Beata[12] British Virgin Islands
Wreck Alley San Diego, California United States
Xihwu Boeing 737[2] British Columbia Canada
HMCS Yukon[2] San Diego, California United States
USAT Liberty[13] Tulamben, Bali Indonesia

Reef dive sites[edit]

Coral reef areas

Region/reef system name Location Country/Territory
Belize Barrier Reef Caribbean Belize
Chuuk South western Pacific Ocean Federated States of Micronesia
Great Barrier Reef Queensland Australia
Hurghada Red Sea, Indian Ocean Egypt
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Florida United States
Marsa Alam Red Sea, Indian Ocean Egypt
Diving in the Maldives Indian Ocean Maldives
Ras Muhammad National Park Red Sea Egypt
Diving in Thailand Indian Ocean, South east Asia Thailand
Sodwana Bay Indian Ocean South Africa

Rocky reefs[edit]

Cave dive sites[edit]

Cave diving is underwater diving in water-filled caves. It may be considered an extreme sport. The equipment used varies depending on the circumstances, and ranges from breath hold to surface supplied, but almost all cave diving is done using scuba equipment, often in specialised configurations. Recreational cave diving is generally considered to be a type of technical diving due to the lack of a free surface during large parts of the dive, and often involves decompression.

Quarry dive sites[edit]

Wazee Lake near Black River Falls, Wisconsin is a former iron mining quarry now used for scuba diving and other uses.

Scuba diving quarries are depleted or abandoned rock quarries that have been allowed to fill with ground water, and rededicated to the purpose of scuba diving.[14] They may offer deep, clean, clear, still, fresh water with excellent visibility, or low vsibility in turbid water from surface runoff. They have no currents or undertow. They are often used as training sites for new divers, where classes and certification dives are carried out.[14] Quarries used for scuba diving may be stocked with fish, and often feature contrived “wreck” sites, such as sunken boats, cars, and aircraft for divers to explore while diving. Many have a dive shop on site to rent out equipment and sell air fills and diving equipment. Lodging or camping areas may be available on site.[15]

Quarries in stone may have clear water, with greater visibility than in many inland lakes. Ground water is the primary source of the water that fills these quarries once they are no longer pumped out for mining operations. Many quarry mining operations are located in areas where filling from other, less clean sources, such as rivers and surface runoff of rainwater is not as likely.

Over time, most quarries tend to be contaminated with erosion products and nutrients from surface runoff, causing many to develop a green tint due to algae growth, and accumulations of silt on the bottoms and other surfaces.

Fresh water scuba diving does not require much difference in equipment from diving in the sea. Water temperatures generally decrease as depth increases, and may be as low as 4 °C (39 °F) at depth. In those temperatures dry suit diving is recommended,[16] but in warmer temperatures, wetsuits may be sufficient. Diving in clean fresh water generally requires less post dive maintenance.[17]

The operators of scuba diving quarries may add objects or debris fields to the bottom of the quarry for divers to explore while scuba diving. Mostly these are man made objects such as boats, cars, and trucks. Some quarries have such large objects as school buses, small buildings, or commercial airliners on the bottom. These sites may be mapped out and marked with guide lines under the water, particularly if visibility is poor.[18][19][20][21]

The owners or operators of quarries may stock the quarry with fish to provide entertainment for divers. These are commonly the same species of fish that thrive naturally in local lakes and rivers, but some quarries are stocked with more exotic fish. The ecology is usually very limited.

Examples[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Williams, Chris; Bowen, Linda (2008). "Wrecks of the Duane and Bibb" (PDF). Advanced Diver Magazine Ezine (1, reprinted from ADM issue 4): 62–72. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "ARSBC". Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  3. ^ "Charlie Brown Artificial Reef". Golden Rock Dive Center. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "5 Star PADI IDC Centre, Kenya, Zanzibar". Buccaneer Diving. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  5. ^ "Vandenberg sinking this morning". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  6. ^ "BVI Dive Site: Wreck of the Inganess Bay". Bvidiving.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  7. ^ Barnette, Michael C. (2008). Florida's Shipwrecks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5413-6. 
  8. ^ "The Cayman Islands Shipwreck Expo Directory Capt. Dan Berg's Guide to Shipwrecks information". Aquaexplorers.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  9. ^ "HMAS Perth (II) - Royal Australian Navy". Navy.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  10. ^ "The ''Spiegel Grove'' is believed to be the largest ever wreck deliberately sunk as a diving site". Fla-keys.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  11. ^ "HMAS Swan (III) - Royal Australian Navy". Navy.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  12. ^ "Cooper Island". Dive BVI. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  13. ^ "DailyDive.com - Scuba Diving Community". DailyDive. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  14. ^ a b http://www.padi.com/scuba/default.aspx
  15. ^ http://www.divessi.com/
  16. ^ p.a.d.i. diving manual
  17. ^ http://www.huronscuba.com/diveInfo/documents/definitions/basicScubaDivingEquipment.html
  18. ^ http://www.divegilboa.com/
  19. ^ http://www.portagequarry.com/
  20. ^ http://www.whitestarquarry.com
  21. ^ https://diveinaustralia.com.au/hmas-brisbane-shipwreck-mooloolaba-sunshine-coast

External links[edit]

Media related to Underwater diving sites at Wikimedia Commons