In April 2015 the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) sank the former HMCS Annapolis in Halkett Bay, off Gambier Island in British Columbia, Canada, to become an artificial reef and physical substrate for various marine growth. However as one post on ARSBC's website made evident recreational scuba divers are not as mindful of not harming the colonisation of the wreck as they should be.
Doug Pemberton, Vice President ARSBC, writes
We all seem to have a need to make our mark as we travel through life and let others know that ‘we were there'. Unfortunately this sometimes leads to unintentional – and sometimes intentional – damage to the environment.
We have noticed that divers are leaving their mark on the Annapolis to let the world know they were there. These large scribbles and doodles are unsightly and pose a serious problem. Divers who do this are unknowingly destroying a very valuable part of the ship's future.
When scraping away that fine coating of growth that covers the ship in order to leave a message, divers do not just wipe away ‘dirt’, they wipe away the diatom mat which is the foundation of all life on the ship. That thin layer is made up of algaes, larval animals and colonies of microscopic plant and animal life that are a crucial part of the intricate web of life on the ship. These are the building blocks of future colonization and also an important food source for animals such as chitons, limpets and snails and other grazers. Without the diatom mat, there would be no life on the ship.
Please be aware of the damage caused by putting any mark on the ship, and leave the diatom mat intact: with your help and restraint, there will be more marine life to come. Help to preserve and promote the future of life on the Annapolis.
Vice President ARSBC