Campaign to preserve the world's most popular wreck
The Thistlegorm is one of the most popular dive sites in the world. But this comes at a cost. As we commemorate the 75 years since this venerable warship went down and swap stories of wonderful dives on this awesome wreck we should take stock of the impact all this fame has had on the Thistlegorm.
Along with the huge amount of material that’s been taken from the wreck by souvenir hunters, a huge amount of damage has been done to the ship over the last twenty years, especially since the lack of moorings around the wreck means that the only way to dive there is to tie your dive boat to the wreck itself.
Most responsible dive guides will use soft ropes and tie to the sturdiest features of the wreck such as the prop-shaft, but as I unfortunately know from my own experience, on a busy day this can be almost impossible and although we do the best we can, sometimes it’s not perfect.
On the other hand, many dive guides, many of whom simply don’t know any better, but also many of whom simply couldn’t care less, have tied their dive boats to parts of the wreck that are simply not capable of holding a 50-ton dive boat in rough seas.
The anti-aircraft gun has been pulled off its mounting; somebody even tied a rope to starboard side water tender which pulled it out of position. Furthermore, many dive boats still use steel hooks and cables to moor on the wreck – these have already cut through thinner pieces of plate and are slowly carving their way through others.
In light of the deterioration of the wreck, local photographer and dive guide Denis Zorzin has been campaining to preserve the wreck. He has been pressing the local governing bodies to install mooring buoys around the Thistlegorm. He tries to educate the current generation of dive guides in best practice concerning the wreck, as well as naming and shaming dive operations who consistently flout existing regulations.
For more information you can find the project at http://www.savessthistlegorm.com/. And watch his excellent documentary below.