“Shipwrecks, they take us in to an entirely new dimensions, fascinate us with its beauty, terrify us with its ill fate and amaze us with its presence. There is a story behind every single wreck and a story behind every unfinished journey, these stories help us make history and their memories create great diving expiriences…”
Wwhen a journey ends with terrifying suddenness, sending a majestic seagoing vessel to the ocean floor, ending the lives of many sailors and passengers. The wreck is now a home to sea creatures, corals and sponges. Years later, detectives in the form of maritime archaeologists locate the wreck and start to piece the tiny bits of information together, like a forensic scientist who attempts to work out the cause of death, in order to unearth the story of that forgotten hulk sitting alone in its watery grave. Shipwrecks invariably attract a great deal of international attention and fame because of these stories which are, at times, heroic and adventurous, and always tragic. For a diver, knowing the story of the wreck creates a whole new experience involving time and space rather than just viewing a pile of steel or wood beneath the waves. Shipwreck diving tours in and around the Galle harbour will be a unique experience to all the divers who wish to wet their heads. There are more than 26 archaeological sites in the Galle harbour, 12 of which have clearly been identified as shipwrecks. They belong to the period from 12th century to modern times. Some of them are very fragile and hard to be recognized, and some were covered with plastic nets and sand bags for preservation. For more than 30 years, the Galle harbour was not open to leisure divers due to the war situation, until it was the home to the southern naval base.
The Maritime Archaeology Unit of Sri Lanka is recording and researching these wreck sites since 1992 and preserving them for the future. With the collaboration of Ruhunu Tourist Bureau, the Maritime Archaeology Unit will take you to the wrecks that were covered to the public eye for a long time.
You are invited to see the difference and get a good idea of the wreck. It is the history and the formation through site plans and research presentations before you dive. Try to identify the wreck constructions and main parts which are decayed and camouflaged. See the artefacts still on the site.
Also you can see the research unit and the conservation laboratory with the on going treatments for the artefacts brought out from the wrecks. And you are cordially invited to visit the Maritime Archaeology Museum of the Central Cultural Fund situated next to the Diving Unit and see the rich maritime history of Sri Lanka.
Text by Maritime Archaeological Museum, Galle.