Diver videos shipwreck in Sri Lanka

Shipwrecks as Artificial Reef Structures (in Sri Lanka)

Lead institution: University of Bremen

The project aims to evaluate the role of shipwrecks as artificial reef structures for marine and coastal communities in Sri Lanka. The biological value of shipwrecks is determined by their importance for species recruitment, food source, biodiversity, and sheltered habitat. Further investigation into the role of shipwrecks in the marine environment is required to identify their ecosystem services for marine and coastal areas. The shipwrecks will be evaluated from an ecological, historical, and socio-economic standpoint to understand their value for the development of marine communities, their support for local fisheries and tourism, and as a tool for sustainable marine resource management.

Underwater Radio Tower on the Medhufaru Wreck
Diver videos shipwreck in Sri Lanka
Corals growing on the T. Sierra Shop Wreck Sri Lanka
Benthic cover on the Cargo Wreck Sri Lanka

A unique feature of Sri Lanka is the high concentration of wrecks around the island’s coastline, with 114 recorded by the National Shipwreck Database of Sri Lanka so far. Literature on the role of shipwrecks in Sri Lanka is limited and this project would be a valuable contribution to the protection of these marine habitats and cultural heritage sites. The first phase of the project began in 2022 with a preliminary study on the shipwrecks in Colombo. Our results highlight the role of the wrecks as habitats of indigenous species, including larger aggregations of fish that constitute a resource for local artisanal fisheries. A complete overview of our study and our findings will soon be available in published format with the Bulletin of Marine Science.

This is an opportunity to strengthen scientific relations between Germany and Sri Lanka and cooperate on a novel field of research. Our work will be in collaboration with the Blue Resources Trust (BRT), a Sri Lanka based research organisation that focuses on marine conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources. As an international team of scientists, we will explore and build on our understanding of shipwrecks as artificial reef structures and approach the existing knowledge gap on their role in the marine environment.

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