by B. N. Sullivan
This is the third post in a series about the wreck of the Dunraven, a 19th century cargo ship that sank in the Red Sea on April 25, 1876. The ship went down after hitting rocks off the coast of the Sinai peninsula. The rocks pierced the forward section of the vessel's hull, causing it to fill with water and sink. The first photo on this page, at right, shows divers examining the large hole in hull that ultimately sank the Dunraven. (Earlier this week I wrote about the history of the ship and how it met its end, and some wide-angle photos of the wreck. )
Today's topic is diving on the wreck of the Duraven. The photos in this post have been reduced in size. If you click on the photos to enlarge them, you will be able to see more detail.
We have dived the Dunraven on a number of occasions. As wreck dives go, it is a fairly easy one. It does not really require specialized wreck diving skills, however divers who visit the Dunraven should get a detailed briefing ahead of time from a qualified dive guide about what to expect, especially if they intend to penetrate the vessel. Prior to the dive you should know about the layout of the vessel, the route you will follow, and the conditions at the site. If this information is not volunteered by your dive guide, ask!
By the way, the bottom at the site of the wreck is at roughly 30 m (100 ft), so divers who visit the Dunraven should be prepared for that depth.
As the Dunraven sank, its water-filled hull capsized, and it settled onto the bottom upside down. Today the ship's inverted hull is split in two at about the midpoint of its length. The opening there makes for easy entry to the inside of the wreck by divers: A standard dive on this wreck entails entering there, swimming forward through the wreck, and exiting through the hole in the bow that was created by the impact that sunk the vessel.
Here, divers are approaching the large break in the middle of the hull, where they will enter the wreck:
The inside of the wreck is dark, so it is necessary to bring along bright hand-held lights in order to find your way through the vessel, and also to see features of the ship's interior, its boilers, and the marine creatures that now call the Dunraven home.
Some of the divers in our party did not want to penetrate the wreck. I took this photo from inside the wreck while they were peeking at us from the outside, through a hole:
Large, dense schools of Glassfish live permanently inside the Dunraven. Divers must swim through these schools of fish as they pass through the wreck. Also seen frequently inside the wreck: Squirrelfish, Bigeyes, and Lionfish.
In the photo below, divers are swimming through a swarm of Glassfish and exiting the wreck via the hole in the bow:
Having been at the bottom of the sea for well over 100 years, the exterior surfaces of the Dunraven are totally encrusted with corals. Many small creatures live amongst those corals, and it is worth taking the time to poke around to find creatures such as Nudibranchs, and Pipefish. You might also spot a bottom-dwelling fish such as a Stonefish or Scorpionfish alongside the hull where it touches the sand.
Here is a photo of Jerry swimming along the bottom, outside of the wreck of the Dunraven. You can see how the hull is completely covered with marine life:
One word of caution to divers who intend to visit the Dunraven: the area is prone to strong currents. Here is Jerry, swimming near the Dunraven. You can see by the angle of his bubble stream that he is swimming across a substantial current:
When a current is running, a good way to dive this site is to have a boat drop you right over the wreck site, and then pick you up 'downstream' at the end of the dive. It is important, in such cases, to descend to the wreck quickly, before you are swept away. A good plan is to explore the wreck, and then ride the current while gradually ascending along the face of the nearby reef wall to a downstream pick-up point.
The beautiful reef wall that is adjacent to the wreck of the Dunraven is very lush. The wall is well populated with fish, crustaceans and corals of many types. You also may encounter larger fish in the area, such as Napoleon Wrasse, Barracudas, Sharks and Stingrays.