Atlantis Submarines celebrates 5 year anniversary of Carthaginian artificial reef

December 17, 2010, 2:58 PM HST · Updated December 21, 9:55 AM
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Five years ago this week, Lahaina’s Carthaginian was transformed into an artificial reef by Atlantis Submarines.  The 97-foot whaling vessel was sunk a half mile offshore of Lahaina after outliving its life as a popular tourist attraction above sea and anchored near shore.

Photo courtesy Atlantis Submarines.

The Lahaina Restoration Foundation first approached Atlantis in 2003 about acquiring the rusted Carthaginian and giving the deteriorating vessel a more noble retirement as an artificial reef.

Today, the old whaling ship sits in 95 feet of water on a sandy ocean bottom between Puamana and Launiupoko.  In five short years, it has become a self-sustaining habitat to a variety of indigenous fish and marine life.

“Thankfully, we were able to keep the Carthaginian here in Lahaina where she belongs, but she is now serving a greater purpose as an artificial reef for fish and other marine life to flourish,” said Jim Walsh, General Manager of Atlantis Submarines Maui. “It’s a fantastic story about the benefits of environmental sustainability that only gets better with each passing day,” said Walsh.

Carthaginian in 2005 shortly after its sinking. Photo courtesy Atlantis Submarines.

The Carthaginian now is home to fish and marine life that are creating a new home in the vessel. Photo courtesy Atlantis Submarines.

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Officials with Atlantis say they see artificial reef development as part of a larger global effort supporting ocean conservation and practicing responsible tourism.  The artificial reefs is intended to provide a place for young fish to flourish, and a substrate for coral to take hold and grow.

Atlantis Submarines Maui offers six undersea tours daily, departing from Lahaina Harbor each hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children must be at least 36” tall to participate.  More information is available by calling (800) 548-6262 or visiting their website at www.atlantissubmarines.com.

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