Renowned conservation site cleared - 14th March 2012

Work to remove the remaining parts of the 100m fishing net caught on the Scylla Reef off Whitsand Bay in Cornwall has been successfully completed.

The Plymouth-based National Marine Aquarium, which has been involved with managing the reef since it was first sunk in 2004, headed up a team of volunteers and has praised the work of those who have worked tirelessly to make the conservation site safe again for both marine wildlife and recreational divers.

Following significant damage caused by the abandoned net, work has taken place over the past few months to painstakingly cut free the net by hand. Volunteers including local firm Diving Marine Solutions, and Peter Fergus, who carries out the annual survey of the Scylla site, worked tirelessly to ensure that the important task was completed, giving up their time and resources to assist in the work.

Dr David Gibson, Managing Director at the National Marine Aquarium, commented: “We are very pleased to see the site free from the net, and remain hugely grateful for the support that we have received from everyone during this arduous task.

“The Scylla reef is a hugely important conservation are, being home to more than 250 species of marine life – many of which have not been found on other dive sites around the UK. We are very relieved that we have at last been able to complete the removal and ensure that no further damage or loss of life occurs.”

Rich Stevenson from Diving and Marine Solutions, added: “The net removal has been a long and difficult process so we are very happy to see the wreck open to divers once more. When we first surveyed the area after the net became trapped we were horrified at the extent of the damage caused. The work has been a real collaboration between the National Marine Aquarium, volunteers and local commercial fishermen – our thanks go to everyone involved.”

Issued on behalf of: National Marine Aquarium (NMA), Plymouth.

Artificial reefMarine Conservation in PlymouthScylla Reef wreck diving site

Scylla Reef — all you need to know

Scylla Reef was created when the former Royal Navy frigate HMS Scylla was placed on the seabed in Whitsand Bay, south-east Cornwall, after a series of controlled explosions, on 27th March 2004. Since placement the reef has established itself as a centre for scientific research, a habitat increasingly rich in marine life and a unique destination for recreational divers.

It has been estimated that Scylla Reef has attracted over 30,000 divers since placement and has generated in the region of £5m per year for the local economy.

Scientific studies on the colonization of the reef indicate that the reef has now settled into an established community with over 250 species of marine life recorded. The reef now offers a unique opportunity for recreational divers, with appropriate levels of skill and training, to experience a reef community on a relatively intact “wreck”.

Scylla Reef was created so that more recreational divers could enjoy and experience native marine life as we learn more about how it behaves and how it responds to the challenges of global environmental change.

We encourage anyone visiting the reef to take note of the Information for Divers and take all necessary steps to ensure their own safety and the protection of the reef and its inhabitants.