Coming up next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World,
shipwrecks that are turning into coral reefs. Hi I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! In shallow tropical oceans, coral reefs provide
habitat and protection for thousands of species of marine animals, especially fish. In places where the sea floor is too sandy
to give coral a place to grab on and grow, there is very little fish life because there
is very little protection from predators. For years, fishermen have known however that
a shipwreck out in the middle of a flat featureless sea floor becomes a magnet for marine life.
Not only is it a place for fish to hide from predators, but it’s also a place where coral
can take hold and grow. For this reason, shipwrecks are often called artificial reefs. Most shipwrecks are the result of accidents
or warfare. They have become popular not just with fish, but with divers who want to see
the fish or explore the wrecks. Sometimes these shipwrecks are not in the most convenient
place for divers however, far from shore, sometimes in deep water. So why not intentionally sink a ship in a
convenient spot? That’s exactly what people are doing all around the world–sinking old
ships as a way to create an artificial reef in a particular spot, sometimes to help out
the fishermen, sometimes to give divers a place to go, and sometimes to help out the
local marine life. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but sinking a big piece of junk on the bottom
of the ocean can be a huge help to local marine life! My question is…how long does it take for
a shipwreck to turn into an artificial reef? To answer this question, I’m off to beautiful
Key West, Florida where a relatively new shipwreck awaits. In 2009, a 522 foot long decommissioned missile-tracking
warship called the Vandenberg, was sunk off Key West. Before the sinking it underwent an extensive
clean-up at a shipyard in Virginia to remove anything that might be harmful to the marine
environment, and to make it safer for divers. Then it was towed all the way to Key West. Carefully placed explosive charges flooded
the ship and sent her to the bottom in under two minutes! Immediately after the sinking, the ship looked
like something from outer space—a completely white, brand-new looking ship on the bottom
of the ocean. One of the antennae looked ready to be used. Now, four years later, the Blue World dive
team is heading back down to Key West to visit the Vandenberg and find out what 4 years on
the sea floor have done to the ship. We head over to Southpoint Divers in Key West
where we load the boat and join a regularly scheduled dive to the Vandenberg. Since this
wreck is the second largest artificial reef in the world, it’s pretty popular with divers
who come from all over the world to see it. It’s only a few miles off shore to reach
the site. Captain Mike drives our dive boat in Key West
style! Soon, it’s time to suit up. Mike gives the
dive briefing then it’s time to go. Well, it’s been four years since the last
time I was here, when they sank the Vandenberg. I wonder what four years under the ocean has
done to this ship? Let’s go find out! It’s a windy day and the visibility is not
as good as I had hoped, but soon the ship comes into view. No longer is she ghostly white. The Vandenberg
is now covered in a thin layer of marine growth. Encrusting sponges, hydroids tunicates, as
well as small patches of coral festoon her hull. Schools of small fish have discovered the
ship as well, keeping their distance from me as I move through the passageways. I love to swim up the stairs of a shipwreck.
It gives me the feeling of zero gravity to be hovering above such an iconic symbol of
our daily human struggle against the forces of gravity on land! Making my way towards one of the masts, I
observe a lot of encrusting marine growth. One of the antennae is covered in the same
growth. While the reef is growing well, it still looks like a ship. Four years underwater
has allowed the ocean to partially reclaim the ship. There is a thin layer of marine
growth, and the fish are starting to call the ship home. Soon it’s time to head up to the top of
the mast where the mooring line is tied. Fighting the current, I make my way to the line that
will lead me safely back to the boat. The next day, we head north up the keys to
Key Largo. Key Largo has some world-famous wrecks. We stop in at Horizon Divers, Key
Largo wreck diving experts. Tim and I load our gear onto the boat. Soon we’re on our
way, navigating through the canals to the open ocean on a beautiful Keys day. We arrive at the wreck of the Speigel Grove.
A slightly older wreck, the Speigel Grove was sunk in 2002. As the crew ties the boat
up to one of the mooring lines, I’m getting suited up for my dive. So this is the wreck of the Speigel Grove.
It’s eleven years old—a little bit older than the Vandenberg. Let’s go see what it
looks like. As I follow the mooring line down through
the blue water, the first thing I see is the top of a mast. Looking closer, I can see quite
a bit of sponge and coral growth here, as well as fish. Deeper on the wreck, a school of Jacks regard
me with indifference as I make my way towards the main deck. This eleven year old wreck
definitely shows much more marine growth than the four year old Vandenberg. And there seem to be more fish. The presence
of smaller fish has attracted predators like barracuda. Some sections of the wreck are so overgrown
with sponges and coral that they are completely unidentifiable. And while I definitely know
I’m diving a shipwreck, it’s undeniable that nature is taking this man-made object
back. There is also no denying that exploring a
shipwreck is fun. Since the Speigel Grove was prepared in advance for divers just like
the Vandenberg, it is safe for exploration. Inside a hole in the deck, I find….wait
for it…a bathroom! Of course, I explore another set of stairs. I’m rising up to the top of the wreck on
my way back to the surface. These ships are so big that they have to be sunk in fairly
deep water so they don’t stick up and pose a threat to boats on the surface. As a result
the dives tend to be around a hundred feet deep, which limits bottom time. I spend a few minutes doing a safety decompression
stop on the mooring line just under the surface while I contemplate the wreck. You know, for being only eleven years old,
that wreck has a lot of marine growth—it’s really pretty, but not a lot of schools of
fish. This if course makes me wonder…what would
an even older wreck look like? Our captain drives us a few miles to another, even older
wreck, the Duane. 120 feet beneath this boat is the wreck of
the Duane, which is 25 years old! I’m really curious to see what a 25 year old shipwreck
looks like. Down on the wreck, I make a beeline for the
bridge, known to be one of the most beautiful parts of the Duane. Inside I discover a refuge for fish completely
decorated with sponges and coral. The walls look nothing like the plain metal of 25 years
ago. Now they are splashed in yellow, red, orange and pink pastels. Leaving the bridge, I investigate yet another
staircase, still recognizable as such, but so overgrown with sponges and coral that it
now looks more like an abstract sculpture. Everywhere I look, the wreck has grown thick
colonies of cup corals. And under every overhang, a school of fish,
hiding from predators. The fish don’t know this was once a warship. For them, it’s
just a great place to live, like any other reef. It seems that 25 years old is a good
vintage for an artificial reef. All too soon the dive must come to an end
and I head back towards the mooring line to the boat. My adventures on shipwrecks have
been illuminating. What I have learned is that the Vandenberg has a bright future as
an artificial reef as the years go by. I’ll be checking in now and then to see how she
does as she progresses from a ship to a mature artificial reef!

100 thoughts on “Artificial Reefs | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. so the government sink's ships on purpose??????⛵⚓⛴?can you do a video of titanic deep sea explanation please Jonathan I am a huge fan of titanic???☺☺

  2. Does the extensive coverage of marine life like corals extend the lifespan of the ship itself? I imagine the creatures living on the hull would help prevent corrosion and keep the structure strong and sturdy.

    Would the corals, over time, end up creating something like a brand new reef extending outwards from the ship as they grew and compounded upon each other?

  3. Than why dont you transfer each sunk ship which developed the coral reefs in the depth of sea on its body into big museum under water aquarium (with lights) to create amusement for viewers education and science. ( this will create 196 museum in 196 countries for education and science and countries with bigger size will increase the numbers into thousands. ( Free education for millions of people around the world) Yrs faithful Ali Ghanchi ( museum name suppose to be (jonathan rosseli) shh.

  4. Just brilliant how these artificial reefs are serving to the marine ecosystem, as they provide perfect habitat for hole spectrum of marine wildlife, just love to learn as much as I can about them.

  5. I'm glad we're helping create more reefs♡ Especially since we're responsible for the bleaching of them in the first place

  6. Jonathan : ofcourse i would explore a new set of stairs
    Me: Umm explore mine theres alot of bacteria
    Jonathan : umm im only looking for fishes not bacterias

  7. Oh i really hate to lead people with big cameras, because you must allways wait until they made the perfect shot.

    But if you see videos like this, you know its worth to wait 😀

  8. Wow, that was truly beautiful! I love these videos! You have no idea how much you mean to me! Every episode is just more inspiration! I'm so glad I discovered your Channel! I hope I can be just like you one day!

  9. I'd like to think that as natural reefs continue to shrink and die off that humans will begin to build new artificial reefs in an effort to keep marine corals and other species alive. There are only financial obstacles preventing the resuscitation of marine reef ecosystems when something like this is already used to aid fishermen, local fish populations and other benthos.

  10. watching the episodes over and over again. every time is like the first time. same delight and appreciation to the great team who made this channel. for them i say THANK YOU.

  11. Dang, now I wish I could make an underwater temple structure with an open ceiling and large atrium and watch as it turns into a reef

  12. 3:10 Look at the line attached to the tugboat. What is happening to it? Is that vibration caused by electricity going through it or something? (You can use < and > to scrub frame-by-frame)

  13. Can you go see the titanic soon I heard that it’s been under so long it is starting to fall a part

  14. dove the Spiegel when she was on her side and when she righted herself after a hurricane..The algol off new jersey is also a great dive..The duane and bibb are a hit as well..I am however partial to real wrecks…

  15. The duanes bridge is spectacular under artificial light luminating all of the sponges and life clinging to her aging hull..Another moment..Thanks for this sir…

  16. If we could find an efficient way to collect and remold it, this might be a good solution to the plastic problem.

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