The Boga Shipwreck, Kubu (Northern Bali)

The Boga Shipwreck, Kubu (Northern Bali)

The Boga’s shipwreck: the USS Liberty of the future

 

Boga Shipwrek, Kubu (Bali)

Following the enormous success of the USS Liberty Shipwreck, in Tulamben, now the North of Bali has a new shipwreck.

The ship “Boga” has been sunk in September 2012 in front of the beach of Kubu (Karangasem Regency, not very far from Tulamben) with the idea of creating another point of aggregation for the marine life and a new dive destination to attract tourists in an area of Bali still underdeveloped.

 

The ship was a former 150 ton cargo, almost 40 meters long, now laying on a sandy bottom between 13 and 32 meters deep, perpendicular from the shore. After being purchased by the owners of the Relax Bali Hotel (Kubu), the boat have been donated to the Karangasem Regency to establish a new divers attraction and increase the cash flow in the area.

The ship is almost intact, and this is a huge difference for people used to dive to USS Liberty, that after so many years being underwater, it’s already fragmented in many pieces. The Gunung Agung eruption of the late ‘60s was also an important factor in this deterioration. Conversely, the Boga includes some interesting pieces, like the ship steering wheel, a VW (somebody told me, I was not able to identify the model!) car in the storage area, and the propeller, still intact at the maximum depth of about 33 meters. Some of these pieces are made of wood, so probably they will disappear quite soon, leaving only the metallic framework.

Shipwrecks are famous to be an “aggregation device” for marine life. At the moment, after almost 3 months underwater, the boat is still empty and quite clean: apart of some ‘implanted’ corals, only some green algae and sponges are starting covering the ship surfaces. But fish are already interested in this new shelter: damselfish, fusiliers and surgeonfish are moving all around the wreck, in a kind of anticipation of what this wreck hopefully will become in the next years. Two giant trevallies also accompanied me during the dive.

Corals, especially the hard ones, need time to grow up. Divers lucky enough to dive the Boga steadily over time in the next months or years, will have the wonderful opportunity to be witness of an “ecological succession”, the change in the species structure over the time. “Pioneer” species like algae and some soft corals will start colonizing the ship in the next few months. These species reproduce at a very high rate, will grow quickly, have a short life span, and a low competitive ability. Depending on the conditions and on the environmental disturbance, quite slowly these species will be replaced by other species, like hard corals and other encrusting animals, needing more time to settle, but afterwards they will become very difficult to eradicate by competing organisms. A shipwreck covered by branched corals and soft colorful animals, surrounded by thousand of fishes is an every diver’s dream. It will take time (not less than 10-15 years probably), but for sure it’s worth to wait.

I have to say that some more environmental-friendly actions should have been done before to sink the ship. Was absolutely necessary to leave the tires on the car? It would have taken 10 minutes to remove them; I think we don’t need more plastic waste in the ocean, and the tires, deteriorating in the years, will release some very bad chemical compounds like hydrocarbons and heavy metals. The same for the other tires previously probably used as boat fenders. I couldn’t find anyone willing to answer to a couple of other questions, like: what happened to the oil and other pollutants present in the ship (and the car) engine? Did somebody recover them before sinking it? Living here since some years, I think I know the answer. They may seem silly questions, but since this boat has been publicized as a new “environmental oasis”, I hope that these basic environmental issues have been correctly addressed. It makes the difference between a very good idea with a bad beginning, and an effective ecological restoration project.

Anyway, the ship is in a nice and safe (if correctly approached) position: it’s worth a visit for both experienced and more skilled divers.

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