A 63m cargo ship has been sunk just over a mile off the coast of Larnaca in Cyprus to create an artificial reef, with a smaller vessel due to be sunk nearby today (10 December).
The sinkings of the Elpida (Greek for “hope”) at a depth of 30m and the LEF1 at 13m have been organised by Cyprus’s Department of Fisheries and Larnaca Tourism Board and sponsored by nine local dive-centres among others. The purchase of the vessels and their preparation and sinking was 75% financed by an EU programme.
Other protected artificial-reef areas have already been created on the island by scuttling smaller vessels off Dasoudi and Amathus in Limassol, and off Protaras and Geroskipou.
Cyprus, best-known to divers for the ferry wreck Zenobia, is working to develop a wider reputation as a wreck-diving location. It has recently been in the diving news for the discovery of ancient shipwreck sites at Akrotiri and Protaras, as reported on Divernet.
The Elpida, sunk on 7 December in a relatively barren area, was “expected to significantly contribute to the creation of shelters, growth and feeding sites for many species of marine flora and fauna, contributing substantially to the protection and development of biodiversity in the region”, according to the Fisheries Department.
The LEF1, which is 16m long, is intended as a point of interest for snorkellers as well as scuba-divers.
Larnaca Tourism Board also cites the Pyla sea caves and biodiverse Meneou-Kiti seagrass area as local attractions for divers.