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Discover the underwater museums of the Brazilian coast
The autonomous tourist dive is one of the adventure tourism activities that, in 2014, motivated the trip of 450 thousand foreigners to Brazil
At the beginning of the 20th century, Aymoré stood out from the other steamships of Brazil's coastal navigation due to its reinforced iron structure built in 1883 in Great Britain. In its 37 years of operation, the ship has transported passengers and the most varied cargoes between Montevideo, Uruguay, and Recife (PE), with stopovers in several Brazilian ports.
At dawn on July 23, 1920, the sky was starry when Aymoré left the Port of Santos for a routine trip to Rio de Janeiro. However, as it approached the San Sebastián Canal, the ship encountered the strong waves of a storm and a dense fog. Despite all the effort of the crew, it was not possible to prevent Aymoré from sinking on reaching the rocks at Ponta do Ribeirão, in Ilhabela (SP).
Almost a century later, the Aymoré remains on the banks of Ilhabela, submerged in a water depth of 11 meters. The opportunity to visit this underwater "museum" that preserves the history of the Brazilian navigation of the early 20th century, besides harboring several marine species has inspired tourists to practice diving in the country.
In 2015, 25-year-old oceanographer Bárbara Villamarin paid a visit to the ship in its first tourist dive to a wreck, motivated by the diversity of marine species that reside there. "The structure of the ship allows a development of marine fauna much superior to the natural environment due to the protection it offers in relation to the waves and strong currents that occur in the region," he says.
The autonomous tourist dive is recognized by the Ministry of Tourism (MTur) as an activity in the adventure segment. According to a Pulp study, 19% of foreigners visiting Brazil are motivated by adventure. In the Brazilian coast there are more than 20 thousand shipwrecks dating from the time of the discovery of Brazil, according to the survey published in the book Shipwrecks of Brazil: A culture submerged, by José Carlos Silvares, in 2010.
Many of the ships wrecked on the Brazilian coast can be visited by diving. The vessels are located at the most varied distances from the coast. Some can only be reached by sailing a few miles offshore, and others whose parts can be sighted or snorkelled, such as the Velasquez in Ilhabela. However, only with autonomous diving, with the use of prolonged breathing equipment, it is possible to identify each part of the ship and the species that inhabit it.
The British transatlantic ship, Velasquez, was built in 1905 to transport passengers and other cargo between Europe, the United States and South America. In its three years crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship did not face major problems because the nautical charts already Had a record of all the obstacles he would face on his way. However, on the night of October 16, 1908, the ship faced fog, rain and strong waves upon its arrival at the entrance of the São Sebastião canal, on the coast of São Paulo. Tonight, Velasquez was carrying 2,000 bags of coffee and 56 passengers bound for New York and Liverpool.
As he approached the rocks at Ponta da Sela in Ilhabela, the captain who drove the ship in slow motion would still have tried to reverse the engines and divert, but he was unsuccessful. The collision broke the hull of the ship at several points, sealing its fate forever. The cargo of the ship was withdrawn and all passengers and crew were rescued. However, efforts to salvage the 140-meter transatlantic were in vain. The vessel sank slowly and today lies eight meters deep and five meters away from the island.
The city of Guarapari (ES) is a reference for the practice of diving. Tourists who had previously visited the city to visit the Mother Church, built in 1585, and the House of Culture, built in the 18th century, also developed a desire to know the historical vessels that are submerged in the city's coast.
The British cargo ship Bellucia, considered big in the early twentieth century, was shipwrecked in February 1903, after colliding with the island of Escalvada, on the coast of Guarapari, and breaking into the boiler compartment. Currently, the ship is 20 meters deep. The bow and stern are 150 meters away from each other in a good state of preservation.
LITORAL PERNAMBUCANO - On the Brazilian coast there are also vessels that were purposely wrecked to become tourist attractions like the three small tugboats a few miles from the Boa Viagem beach in Recife: Lupus, Minuano and Servemar X. The boats, built in 1955, are about 30 meters deep and its structure is still well preserved.
The privileged geographical position of the coast of Pernambuco in projection to the Atlantic Ocean, contributed to that it became the scene of great combats in the colonial period and during World War II. The naval force organized by the Brazilian Navy to defend and patrol the northeastern coast was one of the largest in the country during the global conflict. The fleet consisted of two cruisers, four submarines, six corvettes, 11 destroyers and 15 submarine fighters.
The Camaquã Corvette, built in 1939, was one of the highlights of this team during the war. In her heroic career, she escorted more than 700 merchant ships on the Brazilian coast. The 57-meter-long corvette featured in its ammunition the four-inch cannon at the bow and about forty deep mines.
On July 21, 1944, his glory came to an end. Camaquã was returning to Recife after completing his escort mission to merchant ships heading for Trinidad in the Caribbean, when a great wave struck the ship by tilting it to the right. The next two waves sealed the destination of Camaquã 50 meters from the surface. Currently, this corvette is one of the main points of tourist dive in Brazil, due to the state of preservation considered excellent in comparison with the other shipwrecks in the coast of the country.
Some crew members of the heroic Camaquã were honored postmortem by sharing their names with other Navy vessels. One of them was the commander Gastão Monteiro Moutinho, who had the rank of captain-de-corvette. Camaquã itself received tributes after the shipwreck. A park of 55 thousand square meters in São Paulo and a municipal school in Paraná were baptized with his name.
In the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, another navy corvette that played a prominent role in the defense of the Brazilian coast rests at 60 meters of depth. Built in 1953, the Ipiranga Corvette was one of the Navy patrol vessels. On January 2, 1962, while patrolling the coast of Ceará, the corvette found the French vessel, Cassiopé, specialized in lobster fishing. As he approached the fishing grounds, the corvette captain Heitor Alves Barreira Junior alerted the French ship that his activity was illegal, ordering him to stop fishing and to go to the port of Fortaleza, where he would receive the instructions of the Navy .
After this event, two more French fishing vessels were boarded on the Brazilian coast. This generated a revolt among the leaders of France, and later gave rise to the diplomatic conflict between Brazil and France that would be known as the Lobster War. Fishing vessels of different nationalities were approached by ships of the Brazilian Navy during the conflict.
But it was not just prisons that created Ipiranga's fame. In 1968, the corvette led a team from the magazine O Cruzeiro and a group of hammers to the rocks of São Pedro and São Paulo in the Atlantic Ocean, with the goal of establishing a network of contacts with the whole world. By the time they remained at the base, the teams established more than ten thousand communications, a record for the season.
Ipiranga's career ended tragically on October 3, 1983, after thirty years of activity on the Brazilian coast. The corvette was routinely patrolling the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, when the ship collided with a submerged rock at Ponta da Sapata. The impact broke the hull of Ipiranga, leading it slowly to the bottom of the sea.
Rio de Janeiro also has a historical treasure submerged in its coast. The English transatlantic Magdalena, built in 1948, was considered a fast and modern ship for its time. It was 167 meters long and its 17-ton structure housed a sports plaza, a hospital and a swimming pool in the outdoor area, plus 133 first-class and 346 third-class cabins.
On March 9, 1949, Magdalena began her maiden voyage from London to the port of Santos (SP). After arriving in Brazil, the ship went to the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Magdalena made another stopover in Santos and before returning to Europe would make another stop in Rio de Janeiro.
However, as it passed along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Magdalena collided with submerged rocks on the Tijucas Islands, had its hull broken and ran aground. The ship had insulation mechanisms in some basements to prevent shipwreck. However, attempts to withdraw water with the use of bombs have failed. They decided to try to tow the ship to the port for repairs and during the tow, the ship left in the middle in front of the beach of Leme (RJ) where several people watched the rescue attempt. To the surprise of all the stern (rear of the ship) remained floating until stranding on the beach of Imbuí, in Niteroi.
COURSE - For the realization of the tourist diving in shipwreck it is necessary to carry out a course of diving according to the depth in which the ship is. For boats that are at a maximum of 18 meters from the surface, a basic diving course is required, in which swimming techniques, safety procedures and how to use self-contained breathing apparatus are taught. The minimum age for the basic course is 18 years, and the average duration of the course is four days.
With the advanced course it is possible to perform dives with depth of up to 40 meters, in addition to learning fundamentals for night diving. And for the tourists who wish to enter the boat during the dive it is necessary to take a specific course of shipwreck of longer duration.
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