Environment

Underwater statues help protect Brockville-area shipwrecks from diver damage

  • Apr 25, 2016
  • 432 words
  • 2 minutes
Photo courtesy: Bottom Time Diving
The Centeen Memorial Dive Park in Brockville is attempting to preserve the area's shipwrecks by giving novice divers statues to hold onto while exploring. (Photo courtesy: Bottom Time Diving)
Expand Image
Advertisement

Brockville, Ont. has become the first community in Canada to host an underwater diving park.

Known as the Centeen Memorial Dive Park and located in the St. Lawrence River, it is populated with concrete statues of people, sturgeons and even park benches aimed at preventing novice divers from accidentally damaging the area’s shipwrecks—some which date back to the War of 1812.

“We’ve been struggling for a few years to minimize the damage that is happening to the wooden shipwrecks in the Thousand Islands area,” said Thomas Scott, chair of the Thousand Islands chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks. “New divers have certification to get down to 60 feet, and when you first start it takes a while to develop, to understand buoyancy and techniques. So they were diving down and didn’t have control and we’d see wood coming off.”

The artistic approach to mitigating damage was inspired by a large art exhibit in Cozumel, Mexico called “The Silent Evolution,” a series of underwater statues used to attract tourists as well as support the local coral reef.

The statues in Brockville were commissioned from two local high school art classes. This year, 10 students will have their dive training paid for in order see their work underwater.

The statues have various themes including nature and commemoration. One series in the park consists of five human sculptures looking upward as a memorial to those who have died on the busy St. Lawrence Seaway.

“The St. Lawrence pretty much populated this area; it was the highway before trains, and before the seaway was expanded,” said Scott.

The area’s rich commercial history has resulted in approximately 25 shipwrecks, as well as countless findings of old coins, pottery and even an old carriage with an attached horse skeleton. It is a popular area for divers and amateur archaeologists alike.

“On a Saturday or Sunday it’s not unusual to see 100 to 120 people [diving],” said Scott. It’s a bit early to tell if [the statues] will slow down the ships’ deterioration, but we have high hopes.”

Currently there are 15 statues in the water, but on June 17th and 18th up to 10 more will be installed—including mermaids, turtles, more humans, and a clownfish inspired by the Disney character Nemo. Scott and the Save Ontario Shipwrecks crew hope to install about 70 statues over the next decade.

Expand Image
The statues were created by local high school students and include this thoroughly modern sculpture of a person seated at a desk, looking at a smartphone. (Photo courtesy: Bottom Time Diving)
Advertisement

Related Content

Climate strike Victoria BC

Environment

Why Canada should recognize its citizens’ environmental rights

David Boyd, a Canadian environmental lawyer and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, reveals how recognizing the human right to a healthy environment can spur positive action for the planet

  • 1447 words
  • 6 minutes
Endangered caribou

Environment

Mapping out a new approach to biodiversity protection

Decisions around where to establish new protected areas in Canada should consider wildlife and ecosystem health first

  • 879 words
  • 4 minutes

Environment

Can PEI reach their 7 per cent protected land goal by the end of the year?

Currently only at 4.4 per cent, the province still needs to acquire another 2.6 per cent of land to protect by the end of 2020

  • 1302 words
  • 6 minutes
Tallurutiup Imanga, Lancaster Sound

Environment

Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound to be Canada’s largest protected area

The final boundary for Canada’s new national marine conservation area in Canada’s North shows an area twice the size of Nova Scotia

  • 579 words
  • 3 minutes