There are more than 1600 known shipwrecks resting at the bottom of the Marine Park, with doubtlessly many more yet to be discovered. Most wrecks have become homes to colourful marine life. As such, they can be a magnet for divers and snorkellers, and provide another exciting dimension to the dive experiences.
Shipwrecks may be exhilarating dive spots but they are also sites of huge archaeological significance. These time capsules hold culturally and historically important information about the past, and could even be a resting place for those who tragically went down with the ship.
By observing and promoting the following responsible practices, you’re proactively helping to preserve our precious heritage and ensuring that others will also have a chance to pay homage to the past.
Responsible Reef Practices
When anchoring near wrecks
- Use moorings wherever possible.
- Locate the wreck using a depth sounder, if it’s unmarked.
- Drop the anchor well away from the wreck so that it is upwind or up-current of the wreck site and lay back on the anchor line until the boat is over the wreck.
When diving on wrecks
- Keep diving groups small (for example, less than 10 divers at any one time on the wreck).
- Provide your clients with adequate safety briefing and accurate interpretation about the shipwreck, its history, appearance and cultural significance.
- Drop a shot line so that it hovers about five metres over the wreck (if possible), ensure that it doesn’t become entangled in the wreck. The line should be appropriately marked for decompression stops.
- Secure dangling gear (such as consoles, regulators, and gauges).
- Use proper weights and have good buoyancy control.
- Do not uncover any part of the wreck by digging or ‘hand fanning.’ This exposes wreck material and accelerates corrosion and decomposition.
- Do not enter shipwrecks. The oxidation caused by bubbles increases corrosion and degrades the integrity of the wreck.
- Do not grab, lean on, or hold onto the wreck.
- Be careful with your fin placement, to avoid hitting the wreck.
Marine Parks Legal Requirements
- Historic shipwrecks over 75 years old are protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.
- All newly discovered wrecks must be reported to the Museum of Tropical Queensland (see Related Links).
- You must have a permit from the Museum of Tropical Queensland (see Related Links) to access a Historic Shipwreck Special Access Area. There may be special access requirements.
- You must not interfere with historic shipwrecks.
- You must not collect, touch, move or interfere with artefacts or relics.
If you're heading out on the water, don't forget your free Zoning Map so you know where you can go and what you can do.
We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.
If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.
Current Conditions: Environmental and climatic forecasts for the Great Barrier Reef