The deployment of the new artificial reef (AR) programme round Cyprus could not have come at a better time for the Dive In diving centre in Limassol by coinciding with their 20 year anniversary, as a PADI Dive Centre at The Four Seasons Hotel. As part of the Dive In celebrations, Jonathan Wilson, owner and Managing Director, invited VIP guests and fellow divers to board MY SONS motor yacht, courtesy of Selene Dream Cruises, for a tour of Limassol Bay to witness the sinking of two significant wrecks in the AR schedule on 22 February 2014.
MY SONS was skippered by Captain Savvas Costa, Director of Selene Dream Cruises and on board were Chris Curry, owner and Director of Boatshed, international boat and yacht brokers, and Jez Clarke from Tui travel operators. Staff from the Four Seasons Hotel, where Dive In are based, also joined the party. Leaving from St Rafael Marina, the trip covered ten nautical miles to the wreck site just off Dasoudi Beach and back.
Jonathan Wilson said, “This is one of the most important programmes that Cyprus has initiated in terms of diving. Though the island already has numerous wrecks including the Zenobia, one of the top ten wreck dive sites in the world, this heralds a new era for Cyprus as a diving destination.”
Over the course of 2014, several organisations are involved in creating four new diving sites and fish reserves across the south coast of Cyprus; Amathus Ancient Harbour in Limassol, the two Dasoudi wrecks, a submerged vessel in Protaras and another scheduled for Paphos later in the year. Captain Savvas Costa, Director of Selene Dream Cruises said, “The protected boundaries and the wrecks will ensure that divers will experience the amazing fish life of the Mediterranean.” Jonathan Wilson added, “At the Dasoudi site, the two wrecks were cleaned according to the UNEP/MAP and holes cut for divers’ routes. Later, amphora pots are also being placed to attract more fish and encourage marine habitats. We are looking forward to seeing which species make this site their new home.”
The formalities were held at Limassol Nautical Club, sponsored by KMPG, Semesco and Keo, where the Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment and various dignitaries gave speeches on the Artificial Reef Programme.
The Dasoudi wrecks are the vessels “Lady Thetis”, a 30m German cruise ship sunk at 23m, and “Constandis”, a 23m Russian bottom trawler sunk at 25m depth. Each will give divers a challenge both in depth and difficulty of routes round the vessels. The site was organised by the Cyprus Dive Centres Association in association with the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (MANRE) and the Municipalities of Limassol, Yermasoyia and Ayios Athanasios. The project is co funded by the European Union, European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013: Investing in sustainable fisheries, with the support of Cyprus Tourism Organization, the Limassol and Yermasoyia Municipalities and the Cyprus Diving Centers Association.
Jonathan Wilson invites all divers who wish to see the birth of a new reef to join him, “The Dive In centre is fortunate enough to be so close that we will be taking divers down to explore as soon as possible. This season as the Mediterranean waters warm up, organisms will start to flourish on the wrecks; this will be the invitation to the fish to feed. Fish tend to colonise quite quickly so it will not be long before the site will be teeming and with the protected boundaries against fishing, the two wrecks will become a hive of activity for both divers and marine life.”