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Diving in the Comox Valley, British Columbia

(Click on photos to enlarge)

New artificial reef will provide superb diving.

Boeing 737 Artificial Reef Project. This airframe of a Boeing 737 Aircraft will be sunk in the waters of the Comox Valley, British Columbia, to create an attraction for Scuba Diving Tourism and enhance the marine environment. There is a fundraising raffle with over $10,000 in prizes.

The sunken plane will produce an interesting environment for plants, animals, and divers.

This is the Boeing 737 airplane which will create an artificial reef.

Divers will have access to inside and out.

It will attract tourists to Comox Valley,, British Columbia

Comox Valley, B.C.

Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia, Canada.

Map showing exact co-ordinates of the ship -- er -- plane.

Diving in the water to see a plane that used to fly in air?

The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia announced that a Boeing 737 airframe will be sunk near Comox, on Vancouver Island, instead of near Sechelt as previously announced.

Tex Enemark, President of the Artificial Reef Society of BC, and Bill Coltart, Projects Co-ordinator for the Comox Valley Dive Association, said that an arrangement had been made by which the diving community and tourism operators in the Comox Valley area were taking on the responsibility for raising financing to place the plane as and artificial reef for divers about a mile off shore from Comox.

Enemark, speaking for the ARSBC said, "The Comox-area diver and diving community have wanted an artificial reef sunk nearby since the BC artificial reef program started a dozen years ago but, for a variety of reasons, it has never happened. This will be a very interesting and unusual artificial reef," he continued. "It will add hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to dive tourism in the area.

Jet airplane will become artificial reef for diving in the Comox Valley, British Columbia."By virtue of her being only 37 feet high," said Coltart, "she will be able to offer divers the opportunity to do penetration dives shallower than 70 feet. This makes for an ideal diving training environment. The 6 ships that the ARSBC have sunk are somewhat deeper, with main decks at over 80 feet in most cases and the bulk of the artificial reef below that. Such depths are sometimes intimidating for divers, and shorten the time a diver is able to spend underwater. The airframe, with its wide-open inside space, numerous existing windows, and extra access holes we will cut for divers, will offer a well lit, expansive reef to explore at an advantageous depth. It will be an excellent and safe place to learn wreck basic diving skills."

Howard Robins, Vice President of the ARSBC, who has led the preparation of the airframe for sinking, said, "A large number local divers, as well as divers from Washington State, worked very hard as volunteers to prepare the airplane for sinking over the spring and summer. The airframe is now clean and ready for inspection, and the only thing between us and sinking the plane is a detailed Environment Canada permitting process, which we now have to start all over again. A permit was filed today."

"The plane was built in the 1960’s and is 100 feet long, has a 96 foot wingspan, and in its stripped state weighs about 20 tonnes. She served the people of Canada very well for many years and now goes on to a whole other career as a major interest to divers, a "condo for fish" and other marine life, and a platform for scientific study. I cannot think of a single diver who has ever ridden an airplane without thinking, ‘Gee, this would make a great artificial reef’ for diving.

"At this point do not yet know exactly where in the Comox area, or when, we will be sinking the 737, " said Enemark, "because it must be environmentally sound according to stringent Environment Canada rules and a permit is required from Navigable Waters. Such a site must not be in conflict with other users, among other things. There is also a lengthy consultation process to go through. We hope to sink her in May," he added.

"Dive tourism," concluded Enemark, "is rapidly growing in BC. However, one of the continuing challenges we face in making it grow more rapidly is inadequate financial support from tourism promotion agencies. While BC Tourism contributed $120,000 to promoting dive tourism in 1995, and both Nanaimo Tourism and Vancouver Island Tourism have also been helpful in recent years, the amounts have not been enough to adequately promote an industry that adds about $ 8 million per year to our tourism industry. In its absence, the publicity from the activities of the ARSBC in sinking ships to make artificial reefs have put BC on the world map of scuba diving, and led to readers of Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine rate BC as one of the best dive destinations in the world in recent years, with BC earning 8 ‘firsts’ in Rodale’s Annual Survey, more than any other area.

The working capital for the artificial reef program was provided by the Federal government’s Western Economic Diversification ministry."

For further diving information contact:

Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia:
Tex Enemark, President: (604) 275-5553, or (604) 836-1120
Howard Robins, Vice President: (604) 733-1122

Comox Valley Dive Association:
Bill Coltart, Projects Co-ordinator: (250) 338-6829, or 338-3219

Modified from the Artificial Reef Society press release, January 13, 2004

The ARS-540 has been Re-routed Again!
We have recently signed an agreement to sink the Boeing 737 near Comox, British Columbia. We will re-submit our sinking permit application to Environment Canada. Please see our Project Log page for details on the site, and to see photos from the clean-up crews.

Airplane clean-up and preparations are complete. Thanks to our many Volunteers who helped, especially the Emerald Sea Dive Club of Edmonds, Washington, and the Ocean Pro Dive Club of South Surrey.

diving, artificial reef, sunken plane, dive British Columbia, Comox Valley, diving reefs

All photos copyright 2004

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