Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best of Undersea Explorer series

Undersea Explorer is a series of documentaries produced in Canada. The Mysteries of the Deep collection of the "best" programs from the series. I do not know who gets to determine what the best actually is, but we will go through each program together and make our own decisions, eh?
I was able to watch the first in the series, Sea of Steel. This film was released in the late 1990's and focuses on the efforts of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia to use 3 decommissioned vessels from the Canadian naval fleet and turn them into artificial reefs instead of razor blades (the common use of the scrap metal when these ships are retired and sold).
This program is a good introduction to the process, and lightly touches on some of the controversy surrounding the retirement of ships to the sea. As mentioned, there are environmental concerns, but in all honesty the stringent guidelines and countless inspections prior to sinking really keep all major issues in check. Besides, marine life is found growing on these structures within 6 months of sinking; this creates a spectacular ecosystem is such a short time that I can only imagine how exciting that would be to study on a regular basis. The 3 ships sunk, including the HMS Mackenzie and the HMS Columbia (both destroyer escorts), were noted as never having fired a shot during their commission... hm, how would you read that tidbit when assessing the Canadian peace-keeping efforts? Could go either way, eh?
A really cool side note was how one petty officer's family has successfully petitioned to get his ashes interred on the vessel prior to sinking. When land is becoming a very pricey commodity in areas like California, and it is hard to bury individuals in boggy areas found near coastal waters, how popular do you think underwater burial sites could become? Whole new meaning to "sleeping with the fishes" and personally, sounds really cool to me.
According to the ARSBC, these sites are primarily intended for divers (i.e. eco-tourism), which calls into question the concepts of zoos vs. sanctuaries. There is no mention of how protected these areas are, but that is why I did a little looking of my own on their website:
http://www.artificialreef.bc.ca/
and learned about the ongoing projects as well as the locations and progress of existing reef projects. They even link to clean-up standards and published papers on their work. As for the documentary itself-
RATING: ~~~ (3 waves out of 5); worth watching
This is because I sincerely feel it gets your mind asking questions, and makes you want to learn about and maybe even dive these amazing wrecks. I also think any future ARSBC documentaries will be better made due to what was learned while creating this one.

Well, Baby Einstein is keeping Baby Jace SO engrossed I think it is time to go outside for awhile.
When YOU go outside, don't worry about getting dirty!
-Callie

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Very interesting, I had no idea that ships were retired that way. I think it is awesome that within 6 months sea life has created a new habitat, how incredible is that!?