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British diver captures interesting things sunk beneath the waves

Ian Harvey
A pair of divers explore the 100-metre long cargo ship Giannis D, one of the biggest wrecks to be found in the Red Sea. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

For those who have never been diving, it is safe to say that there are some odd things to be seen beneath the surface.  There are thousands of shipwrecks worldwide still lying on the seabed.  Most of them are probably known and their whereabouts documented, however, some may not ever be excavated due to laws concerning the protection of shipwrecks.

However, these laws did not stop a famous photographer from capturing some eerie beauty beneath the surface.  Alex Mustard is a British photographer who decided to travel the world to find some of the weirdest things that have sunk. Besides shipwrecks he has discovered an old motorbike that was once used by British troops in World War II. He has also found old, rusty British trucks that have been forgotten.  Other interesting pieces are rifles that haven’t been used, and even the shell of a VW Beetle.  Mustard said that these particular wrecks attract divers from all over because they cannot be seen from the surface, making it even more of a mystery to explore.  Apparently, the VW Beetle was purposely sunk to provide a place for divers to visit.  Mustard said that it is the most bizarre thing to see under water; like finding something familiar in the most alien place.

One of the motorbikes found inside the hold of HMS Thistlegorm, which was sunk in the Red Sea by German bombers in 1941. The bikes were bound for British troops. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

One of the motorbikes found inside the hold of HMS Thistlegorm, which was sunk in the Red Sea by German bombers in 1941. The bikes were bound for British troops. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

Mustard said that one of the most interesting wrecks he has captured would have to be the HMS Thislegorm, which was a British cargo ship that was carrying military supplies when it was sunk by a German Bomber.  It lies in the Red Sea, having perished there in 1941.  What made that wreck particularly interesting for him is that the ship is still filled with trucks, bikes, and rifles that would have been used during the war. Mustard explained that warships bring about a somber feeling, because they are not only historical pieces lying in the ocean but they also serve as memorials for those who did not make it out of the wrecks alive.   He said that he gets a mixed feeling of excitement and sadness after finding one – the excitement of finding yet another shipwreck, yet a feeling of sadness because of the lives that were most likely lost in it.

Mustard does not only explore old, ancient shipwrecks – he also explores some of the newer ships.  One of the most recent ships he has explored is the USS Kittiwake, which was a U.S. military ship built in 1945.  It was purposely sunk near the Cayman Islands so that divers could explore it. The water is so clear near the Cayman Islands that the ship didn’t even look like it was underwater

A diver approaches the bow of the Kittiwake, a US military ship purposely sunk off the Cayman Islands for divers to explore. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

A diver approaches the bow of the Kittiwake, a US military ship purposely sunk off the Cayman Islands for divers to explore. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

 

The diver grabs the wheel of the Kittiwake which will quickly become covered with marine life. Photo credit Alexander Mustard -

The diver grabs the wheel of the Kittiwake which will quickly become covered with marine life. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

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What Mustard finds most interesting about the newer sunken ships is the feeling he gets when he looks at them – he knows no one lost their lives in the sinking of certain ships.  Then another feeling he gets is seeing all of the marine life take over the ship to make a new home.  What he finds fascinating is the fact that it does not take the animals long to discover a new shipwreck.

A school of horse-eye jacks swims past the wreck of US Kittiwake in the Cayman Islands. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

A school of horse-eye jacks swims past the wreck of US Kittiwake in the Cayman Islands. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

Some of the photos he has taken are of the USS Kittiwake which had been a recent sinking yet looks nearly brand-new in the clear water.  There is only a little bit of rust on the top; otherwise it is nearly all white.  Another photo is of a British motorbike that was supposed to go to British troops during WWII.  This photo is a bit darker, and the only thing that can be seen is the wheel of the bike as the rest has been filled with rust and sea life.  The bike will soon be unrecognizable.  A third photo is of the VW Beetle that was purposely sunk.  It is something that would leave a new diver in shock, wondering how it got there.  One of the bigger ships Mustard has found would have to be a Greek ship called Giannis D, which sank in the Red Sea and was found by Abu Nuhas in 1983.

The shell of a VW beetle that was purposely sunk in Capernwray Quarry in Lancashire as an attraction to divers. Photo credit Alexander Mustard

The shell of a VW beetle that was purposely sunk in Capernwray Quarry in Lancashire as an attraction to divers. Photo credit Alexander Mustard