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Car wrecks under water: biotope, contraband and water bodies

Paul Munzinger
Car wrecks under water
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T the seabed stretches out rustless as a dark brown sand surface off the coast of the Philippines. A familiar shape emerges in the blue water. When the lamps capture the object, it turns out to be a red Ford Mustang or its boned body. It's an unusual sight 30 meters below the surface of the water.

We know that ships sometimes sink - but sports cars? And then far from the next street? But the Mustang was not simply disposed of as garbage here, but is intended to create a kind of protective living space in this rather dreary environment. Corals and sponges settle on the sheet metal, fish and crabs hide in wheelhouses and the engine compartment. Even a few seahorses now feel at home where the Mustang coat of arms once shone.

Car as an oasis for marine animals? h3>

The car as an oasis for marine animals? What sounds contradictory has a tradition for decades. Especially in regions like the Philippine volcanic island of Negros. There is little shelter for animals there, and therefore these man-made wrecks are quickly conquered by nature. After a few years they transform into biotopes and bizarre excursion destinations for divers. And that without risks and side effects: Before end-of-life vehicles are forever submerged in the floods, the bodies are cannibalized and fuel and oil residues removed.

But when divers come across land vehicles in the oceans, they often hide behind them dramatic stories, as evidenced by the photo of the two trucks. They were part of the supplies that were to be transported to the Japanese troops in Chuuk - in the middle of the Southwest Pacific - in February 1944. The fleet numbered around 100 ships when it was attacked by around 450 American bombers. More than 40 ships sank in the floods. Today, the Truk Lagoon is an underwater monument and one of the most impressive wreck diving sites - not least because of the up to 150 meters long freighters loaded with all kinds of vehicles from motorcycles to bulldozers. In the Red Sea, the British freighter Thistlegorm, sunk by a German bomber in 1941, lures 30 meters below the surface of the water with similar finds.

Car wrecks as contraband or insurance fraud

In addition to the automobile bodies of water, the end of them is more or is less clear,there are also some that are legendary. As in the case of the Blue Belt freighter. There is general agreement that he ran into a reef off the coast of Sudan in 1977 and capsized. But whether the crew steered the fatally wrong course because they had smuggled goods on board and wanted to remain undetected, or whether the sinking was simply insurance fraud, remains a mystery. Why it is known as the Toyota wreck becomes clear in view of the cargo scattered across the reef: Products from the Japanese manufacturer were on board, from cars to trucks and tractors to spare parts.

Some cars even come back to the surface. Like the Bugatti Type 22, which divers drew from Lake Maggiore near Ascona in 2009. The already badly attacked sports car once ended up in the water for very pragmatic reasons: the previous owner had left it carelessly in a building yard when he moved. Unfortunately, it was never cleared. When the authorities wanted to collect the outstanding fees from the new owners, they unceremoniously drove the eleven-year-old sports car into the waters.

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