Creating a diving reef

By | Category: Travel destinations

LuLu's last moments above the waves

How long does it take to create a completely new tourism attraction?
A couple of years? Five years? A decade?
In Alabama in the US, They have achieved that in just under a year.

Alabama is not the first state that comes to mind amongst us when we think of visiting the US. How many of us even know that it borders the Gulf Of Mexico? In fact the state probably got most publicity over here during the clean-up after the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster which revealed to many of us for the first time that it was a tourist area. It attracts lots of Americans to its shores in the summer for its beaches, its fishing and because it appeals to families.

Last July, locals gathered together and set up the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef & Restoration Foundation, a non-profit organisation to raise the $500,000 needed to buy and sink a suitable vessel to create an artificial reef off the coastline. The purpose was to set up a new tourist attraction where scuba divers would come to see the fish and dive on the wreck. The US Coast Guard had already seized a Haitian ship that had broken US maritime laws and a local brought the ship to the area. In the event the foundation raised far more than the money required, everything was put in hand and the ship, re-named LuLu, was towed out and sunk just over a week ago.

Chandra Wright, a nature tourism specialist for GSOBT was one of the first to dive the new wreck. “It was a bit surreal diving a brand new shipwreck that was just sitting on the surface yesterday,” Wright remarked. “We were happy to see good visibility with The LuLu sitting upright and fish already checking out their new habitat. In the coming months, we expect algae and corals to start growing and smaller fish to move in. The smaller fish will bring in the larger fish, and The LuLu will soon be its own marine village.

There are other diving sites off Alabama which contain such unusual things like bridge rubble, tug boats and other structures, CSX boxcars, M-60 military tanks, and oil rigs and jetties which may make the state the place for divers to visit.

For more information on the area, click here.

Image © Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

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