Some artificial reefs are not planned. These reefs are born from objects that don’t belong in the ocean at all. Planes that crash or ships that sink sometimes become reefs by accident.
There’s a place in the Red Sea called Sha’ab Abu Nuhas. It is a coral reef off the coast of Egypt. Navigating this reef by ship can be dangerous. In fact, it is known as a ship graveyard.
The wreck of the Giannis D lies on its side. It’s now encrusted with corals and algae.
You’ll find four large shipwrecks on the north side of this reef. These ships all struck the reef. They sank and slid down a steep slope. They became partially buried in sand.
The Giannis D was such a ship. It was a large, Greek transport ship hauling timber. In 1983, it accidentally ran full speed into Sha’ab Abu Nuhas. The crew abandoned the sinking ship. Then a storm sent its pieces to the bottom.
To dive there now, you’d see the bones of a ship covered in corals. Hawksbill turtles, glassfish, eels, and Napoleon fish drift by. The ship might not belong there, but the sea has claimed it for its own.
Creating a Home
You’ll find the S.S. Thistlegorm at the bottom of the Red Sea as well. It was a cargo ship of the British merchant navy. It sank during World War II.
At the time, the ship was filled with supplies for soldiers and weapons of war. It held bombs, anti‑tank mines, rifles, and more than 100 motorbikes. All still lie at the bottom of the sea.
A scuba diver looks at part of the S.S. Thistlegorm.
A Future Hope?
How strange these items look now, encrusted with corals. The wreck is alive with fish. This ship has become their home.
Nothing can replace a natural coral reef. Yet, artificial reefs can make up for some of the loss. In time, marine communities can thrive in these reefs.
A hawksbill turtle feeds on corals attached to the wreck of the Giannis D.
This artificial reef is full of life.