19/07/2024

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Scuba Diving in Aruba – The Wrecks

Scuba Diving in Aruba – The Wrecks

Scuba diving anywhere in the world is both an exhilarating and invigorating experience, but for those with a fascination for shipwrecks, one of the best, if not the best place to visit, is the small Caribbean island of Aruba, sitting just a few miles from the northwest of Venezuela.

Undoubtedly the major draw to Aruba is the wreck of the German cargo ship The Antilla, which is 400 feet in length, and was deliberately sunk by its captain at the start of the second World War, to keep it away from the Allied hands. It rests at an angle of 45 degrees, in around 60 feet of water, about 1 mile off the Eagle Beach in the northwest of the island. Scuba divers will be astonished at the volume of marine life on and under the vessel, with creatures such as yellowtails, angelfish, lobsters and eels making frequent appearances.

There are however many more fascinating wrecks scattered around the island, each with their own story, and they all come alive for the keen scuba diver. The Vera is a freighter which went down in 1954, and the claims were that in its cargo was gold and valuables from Nazi Germany. These are the sort of treasures that attract the scuba diver and it becomes something of an obsession, with the need to explore totally taking over.

Other wrecks around the island include: Captain Roger, an old tugboat lying off the coast, at the Seroe Colorado end of Aruba; Jane C, a 250 foot English cement freighter, which can be located just outside the coral reef, to the west of Palm Island; and possibly the second most famous wreck after the Antilla, the center piece of the oil tanker Pedernales, which went down following a torpedo attack.

Two more recent wrecks that attract the scuba diving fraternity are the Rum Runner and the Star Gerren. The Runner was an old wooden Danish fishing boat, which had been converted for tourist cruises, but when it became unserviceable it was sunk and is now a home for lobsters, turtles and beautiful anemones, making it a cracking dive. The Star Gerran was a 200 foot tanker which was actually sunk by the Aruba Watersports Association. Holes have been cut into the side of the ship to allow the divers to penetrate the structure and enjoy the sea life that has taken up residence, including spider crabs and the astonishing goatfish.

As for the equipment used, the scuba diving equipment often comes as a bit of a surprise, for nothing more than the sheer volume of it. Some are more technical than others, but each has its own role to play in the safety of any dive. The mask, snorkel, fins, light, knife, digital camera, and whistle are all fairly self-explanatory. The scuba unit, which basically allows breathing under water, comes with regulator, tank and a buoyancy control device, and is obviously the central piece of the kit. There is also the dive computer which monitors depths and time limits, plus the weight system which permits the descent at the desired speed, together with the exposure suit, which retains essential heat. It all has its own purpose, and as an accumulated set, it will give a scuba diver all the necessary tools and protection to go and do an activity that is growing in popularity at a rapid rate of knots.