Exploring Turkeys Shipwrecks
Turkey is the perfect destination for anyone with a passion for, or a yearning to try diving. Turkey has 8,333 km of coastline stretching over four seas. There are lots of private companies offering some fantastic dives including lessons for inexperienced and novice divers and there are a variety of packages available from snorkelling to scuba diving, but one of the most fascinating diving experiences has to be seeking out the many old shipwrecks that lie off the Turkish coast.
Plotting a Nautical Graveyard
The Turkish Institute of Nautical Archaeology has backed a project known as Shipwrecks of Anatolia, which aims to locate shipwrecks in the deeper waters around the Bodrum Peninsula to create a magnificent and inimitable underwater archaeological heritage site, which will be within easy reach to anyone who wants to visit it. The organisationare plotting the whereabouts of each wreck on a multi-media database and are keeping everyone up-to-date with plenty of online information in the form of live web-cam recordings, videos and a bank of images. The long term aim is to uncover information of the position of old harbours, underwater edifices and other interesting finds. A spokesperson for Shipwrecks of Anatolia says, ‘By increasing public interest and involvement in the process of archaeological research, we also hope to raise social and political awareness about the conservation of underwater sites.’
The Fate of a Drunk Driver
Off the coast of Kas, there are six famous wrecks and plenty of professional dive companies ready to take you to see them. The Likya Wreck is 40 ft long and made of wood. It was powered by a motor and was originally a fishing boat and the remnants of the wheelhouse can be seen very clearly. It now lies off the Limanagzi Wall 27 m down resting on its keel in a sand bank at an angle of 45 degrees. There are two versions of how the wreck met its fate; some say that it was deliberately scuttled by a dive company as a magnet for divers and has attracted much in the way of colourful marine life, whilst others tell the story that the wreck was not deliberately scuttled but met its fate when its drunken owner sailed into a reef, which created a cavernous hole near the port side bow, which gives some gives some credibility to this tale.
The oldest wreck visited by dive tours is known simply as the Ottoman Wreck. It is hundreds of years old actually pre-dating the Marie Rose and still intact surrounded by antique amphorae, relics, pots and pans. The wreck lies 22 m away from the base of Fener Reef. You will have no problem spotting the amphorae and the other relics which lie in the hull. Some of the wood has rotted to expose 2 m high wooden ribs, which point upwards.
At the Foot of an Underwater Canyon
Four rocks rising up from a shallow reef form the diver’s paradise known as Canyon Reef. Diving into the canyon will reveal the twisted metal wreck of a large freighter dubbed aptly as the Canyon Wreck. It sank in 1960 and shortly after the Turkish Navy had to blow off the ship’s bow because it posed a hazard to local ships but there is still over 40 m left intact from the mid-ship section to the stern. You can clearly see the deck plating and hand-rails as well as the rudder and huge propellers. Once your eyes have feasted on this wreck you can swim into one of the caves at the base of the canyon. Here the walls are covered with sponges and brightly coloured corals.
The French Warmonger
Another great dive is to the sunken wreck of the Paris, which lies at a depth of 20 to 30 m near to the tourist resort of Kemer. The Paris is a French gunboat, which was built in 1896 and used for battle in World War I and was sunk during the World War II. It was driven by a steam engine, which still can be seen along with its three decks and two stores. There is extensive damage to the bow and mid part as they were built from wood, which has rotted over time. There are no arms on the deck and this has led some to claim that it was not a gunboat but a cargo ship; however there is ammunition in the stores. There is also a wheel barrow of with coal in it.
A Bronze Age Replica
The most famous ship ever discovered off the coast of Turkey is the Bronze Age cargo carrier, known as the Uluburun believed to be the largest cargo carrier in history. It was discovered by a Turkish sponge diver in 1982 and a replica along with the treasures it carried can be se in the Museum at Bodrum Castle. The original ship was recovered and has been on display at museums around the world. However, the Turkish Nautical Institute have sunk a replica of the original in the exact spot where it was found off the coast of Antalya. The replica is 14 m long and 5 m wide and is one of Turkey’s biggest underwater tourist attractions. The original ship carried a rich cargo of wealthiest and largest collections of gold, Cypriot copper, jewellery, lead, amber, elephant ivory, blue glass, Egyptian ebony furniture and much, much more.
Discover the Delights of the Deep
There are so many more wrecks to discover off the coast as well as caves and the remains of lost civilizations. If you are a then it is well worth booking a wreck dive - at only 50 Euros for a day’s accompanied diving how could you possibly resist?