Scapa Flow tends to be held in high esteem in most divers’ minds, a mythical place of shipwrecks so vast and complicated that you need many dives to get your mind around what you see.
Seven behemoths, sunk by their own crews as a final act of defiance, now lie as testament to a lost age of rapidly evolving war machines.
A completely new take on the standard dive is found between the covers of the new book about Scapa Flow by veteran wreck-researcher Innes McCartney. Previous books have set the standards high, but by bringing together the archaeology of the fleet, history and an up-to-date description of the wrecks, a whole new side to Scapa has been uncovered.
The wrecks themselves recently had their 100th birthday, and they have changed a huge amount in the past few years alone.
They’re huge and complex, and a naked-eye survey on a dive is barely enough to keep track of the changes from year to year. Dives merge into one, and it’s easy to get mixed up as to which stern belongs to which ship.
Many people seem to think the changing of the wrecks is a bad thing, but this evolution is revealing previously hidden areas, like the unfurling of the petals of a big rusty flower.