Of the more than 1300 historic shipwrecks known to be in Queensland waters, the majority are likely to be located in the Region and new shipwrecks are discovered regularly (see Section 4.3.1). The wreck of the HMS Pandora has been well described and recorded. The same assessment cannot be made for many of the other shipwrecks in the Region. For example, while the HMCS Mermaid is recorded and within a protected zone, it is unsurveyed and deteriorating because it is located in a high-energy zone. There has been no baseline survey or any recovery and analysis of artefacts from the Foam and the SS Gothenburg. For hundreds of other shipwrecks, understanding, and hence protection, is lacking because they are yet to be located. An estimated 140 submerged plane wrecks from World War II have not been located or recorded. Two wrecks, Catalina A 24 25 and Catalina A 24 24 which hold the remains of 25 personnel, were recently located 70 years after their presumed loss. The community profile is strong for some wrecks. For the HMS Pandora, this is particularly so because its story is the centrepiece of the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville. For the SS Yongala, some of the recovered artefacts are conserved and available for research and interpretation. There is also strong community recognition of the wreck as a world-famous dive site. As wrecks are discovered they become valued by the community, especially those people with personal connections to the wreck. Management Ships, like the HMS Pandora and SS Yongala, greater than 75 years old, are protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 (Cth). In addition protected zones declared under the Act around some wrecks, for example a 500 metre protected zone declared around the HMS Pandora, further improves protection by strictly controlling access. There is little existing protection for other wrecks in the Region, including shipwrecks less than 75 years old. Evidence for improving resilience In some cases, the resilience of a wreck’s contribution to maritime heritage can be improved by recovering and preserving key artefacts and making them available. The HMS Pandora has been partially excavated, revealing a plethora of artefacts which have been conserved and are available for research, public display and interpretation, thus helping to improve understanding of the wreck and its heritage value. The HMS Pandora has remained physically stable due to its depth and the local sedimentary regime, and a layer of sediment makes the significant remaining material within the wreck relatively secure. On the other hand, the fabric of the wreck of the SS Yongala is above the seabed and therefore extremely vulnerable to cyclone damage, most recently during cyclone Yasi in 2011157. Underwater wrecks and their inherent heritage values are extremely vulnerable to unintended impacts such as anchor damage and marine debris from fishing activities. Most wrecks are not recorded, inspected, maintained or subject to dedicated regulatory protection. Some wrecks show signs of having been damaged by anchoring, trawling and recreational fishing.
Most underwater wrecks have poor resilience, particularly as they are poorly recorded.
The wreck of the SS Yongala