the underwater park does not stop growing

Las Grutas has beautiful beaches, which with their sign of Patagonia attract everyone, but its attractions are not only on the surface. Under the sea, the underwater park of the Rio Negro coast does not stop growing and it is already ready to incorporate a new ship: the Magdalena María II.

It all started in 2007 with the first sinking. Today, there are four ships at the bottom of the sea: the first of those sunk was the Don Félix, then, in 2019, the Mariana Rojamar sank and in May the Chiarpesca 59, the Polarborg I in 2020 and they are preparing to make it five. with the Maria.

Divers Sebastián Leal and Claudio Barbieri are two of the driving forces behind this project. Last week, they were on their way to the international congress of divers, in Córdoba. During the trip, they commented that the Magdalena María is the last ship that remains of those that were in the floating fountain of the port of San Antonio Este.

Don Félix was the first fishing boat sunk.

It will also be the largest in the park, because it measures 45 meters by almost 10 meters, and has five floors from the cellar to the top.

These days they are immersed in the last stage of cleaning, which means that fuels, oils, batteries, cables, wood, plastics, have been eliminated and only the surface remains to be cleaned. The procedures are started in Prefecture to do the sinking, which is the last piece of paper they need, which says that they can take the ship to its destination.

“The María will go to a place close to the other ships, at a depth of 28 meters, although it will be the one that is farthest, it would be close to one of the last ones that we sank. The exact date of sinking is difficult to pinpoint. It is always an attraction, so we try to find a good time from the tourist point of view. All the planets have to align”, says Sebastián.

It is the last of this stage, in 2007 they sank the Don Felix, which was a small fishery and ship number five, giving them a very important place in what is the offer for diving, of sunken ships and artificial reefs in South America, for the The way, the place, is practically unique. “We are very well positioned in diving tourism, a segment that we have targeted with a lot of work since 1998,” says Leal.

Something to highlight, the area was at risk, they were in the best place on the pier, and today they are the habitat of the life of the bottom of the sea.

Sebastian loyal. Zero Level Diving

The boats are all fishing boats that stopped being productive. It is something that happens all over the world, many companies leave them abandoned on the side of the docks. They have debts that exceed the value of the boat, or because they are obsolete, or because they are no longer good for fishing and it is very expensive to repair them. ANDThen, dead, they remain there, occupying good places on the dock.

The seabed and all its beauty at your fingertips. Photo Sebastian Leal.

“In this case, these last 4 belonged to two companies, they were abandoned on the floating pontoon, in Puerto del Este, within the San Antonio Bay Protected Natural Area. They floated and were garbage dumps for the other ships, because no one took care of them. When we received them it was terrible. Full fuel tanks, a time bomb for the natural area, if they sank, they could contaminate the entire area”, says Sebastían.

When it is said that they throw junk into the sea, or that they litter, Leal affirms that it is done without knowledge. “The work that is done to clean them is ignored, it is completely peeled, it is a shell, which is made of sheet metal and after three months of sinking, it is completely colonized by the inhabitants of the seabed,” he says.

The park has potential, due to the fact that the diving industry moves a lot in the world.

It shows a video, in which it is seen how marine life colonizes them. Where they sink them there was only sand and after three months, they were full of anemones, bivalves, oysters, mussels, mussels, starfish, sea urchins and black sea breams, prawns, salmon and a lot of species that use the boat for protection. “It is a habitat with native navigators, it is a house of the inhabitants of the gulf”, highlights the diver.

“We work on the recreational and shipwreck diving segment, it is a particular attraction for many who practice it. Something very important is that the last 4 ships we sunk have penetration protocol. That means you can dive in.”

With the project they thought they could reverse the seasonality of Las Grutas and offer an activity that can be done in other seasons besides summer, and that’s what happened.

You can enter the boats and tour them. Photo Sebastian Leal.

For each boat they thought, they studied where to cut, what doors to make, so that they have entrances and exits, that does not exist in Argentina. It is very attractive, because they coexist with the fish on each level of the ship. And in the same boat you can do 10 dives and it will be a different experience.

Whale watching season in Las Grutas

The boys from Cota Cero, like other providers, at this time they offer whale watching and marine fauna.

Cota Cero leaves at 3pm on the 3rd descent, Las Grutas.

The rides will cost $10,000 for adults and $5,000 for minors, and it will be necessary to take advantage of the occasion because the last week of the month and until the end of September will be more expensive, because the nautical operators anticipated that they will suffer an adjustment, but they did not mention amounts.

The departures are made aboard semi-rigid boats that depart from this resort and from Puerto San Antonio Este. They will last almost two hours and go through the interior of San Antonio Bay. Seeing the animals in their habitat is a wonderful experience.

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