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Plan to close top Red Sea wrecks.

The wrecks of the Thistlegorm and Rosalie Moller, both sunk in 1941 as they lay at anchor awaiting entry to the Suez Canal, could be closed to divers for up to two weeks to allow the laying of new boat mooring systems.

Agreement has been made between the government, dive-boat operators and sport diving industry associations that these popular wrecks should be fitted with the systems to halt the damage caused by thousands of dive-boat shotlines put on to the sites each year.

Damage caused by shot lines are an on going problem to these wrecks, only recently the Rosalie Moller was reported to have lost a portion of one of its two upright masts, as a result of a boat tying off to it.

Each wreck will be fitted with a system featuring mooring for up to 24 boats at a time, with eight separate mooring points each allowing three vessels to tie up.

Separate diver ascent and descent lines are also to be installed on the wrecks, to increase diving safety when there are many divers in the water.

In the case of the Thistlegorm, a number of holes will also be placed strategically to allow the escape of exhaled air. Trapped air bubbles left by many scuba visitors have contributed to erosion of the wreck´s structures.

The Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association is keen for the work to be carried out as soon as possible, and has pushed for a starting date of mid-November. But other sources, including tourism officials and some dive operators, are thought to favour letting the bulk of the 2007 diving season run its course before work begins.

(News Index)
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