KARWAR: A group of divers on a routine diving exercise was in for a pleasant surprise when they drifted a little away from their usual course near Karwar. They had stumbled upon something that brought a surge of excitement, and for them, it was almost like rediscovering the Titanic.
Parts of a sunken ship near Devgad Island, located 9 km off Karwar coast, have become home to colourful corals and shoals of breeding fish.The discovery is now igniting hope that the region can be developed as a shipwreck-diving destination. “If the district administration gives permission for scuba diving there, it will be the first-of-its-kind experience in these parts of India,” Ganesh Harikantra, a diving expert, said.
The location features a rich growth of corals, and a wide variety of fish, including kingfish, besides a thick growth of flora, Harikantra added. The 225-metre long cargo vessel, which was registered in Singapore, was carrying crude oil when it sank at the spot following an accident and broke into two pieces in 2006.
“There are two shipwrecks in Uttara Kannada -- at Karwar and Murdeshwar. We have not given any permission for shipwreck diving yet, and will take a decision after a safety study is conducted by experts and independent agencies. If it’s found safe, we will create necessary facilities to attract tourist,” S S Nakul, Deputy Commissioner, Uttara Kannada, said.
After the cargo ship sank near Karwar coast, authorities dismantled all machinery, and left the body of the ship there, after cutting it into many pieces. Nearly half of the important parts of the ship were removed.
Twelve years later, about 100 pieces can be seen now, spread over a nearly 180m-long stretch at the bottom of the sea. Corals have started blooming there and fish have started breeding. Scuba diving near Devgad Island is currently organised by Netrani Adventures company, which was given a three-year contract by the district administration.