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First underwater museum opens in Galle

Sri Lanka’s first underwater museum was opened by Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva off the shores of Galle on April 5, 2020.

This underwater museum was built off the Galle shores under the close supervision of the Navy Commander, upon a proposal by Prime MinisterMahinda Rajapaksa.

The initial plan was to utilise unusable train compartments and construct an underwater museum. However, due to the lack of such train compartments, the museum was designed and created by the Navy utilising sculptures and other artifacts. This also serves as an underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, to control erosion, block ship passage, block the use of trawling nets, or improve surfing.

Many coral reefs are built using objects that have been built for other purposes, for example by submerging oil rigs, dredging ships or using construction debris. Other artificial reefs are made mainly from PVC or concrete. Shipwrecks can become artificial reefs when stored on the seabed. Regardless of the method of development, artificial reefs generally provide a hard surface where algae and invertebrates, such as barnacles, corals, and oysters, thrive; the accumulation of marine life inherent in turn provides complex structures and food for fish assemblies.

Though artificial reefs have been used for centuries as defensive structures, breakwaters and to attract fish, the typical reason modern reefs are built is to increase available habitat for coral and fish.

All the statues are handmade by the Navy personnel, unique, made of concrete and are completely eco-friendly and will promote the formation of corals which over time, will increase its beauty. The whole underwater story is set at a depth of around 50 feet in the Galle Harbour area providing a unique sightseeing experience for anyone – children and adults, experienced divers, complete scuba beginners, as well as for ordinary swimmers.

Due to the overall experience provided by the site’s attractions, this will definitely provide a unique experience to both locals and foreigners alike and will certainly draw in foreign income for the country.

The Navy said that while the site has been created by them, anyone can visit the underwater museum through any recognised diving school. However, the underwater museum cannot be viewed using scuba gear, but can be reached using diving gear including oxygen tanks.

Marking another milestone in the annals of Sri Lanka Navy, the Navy Commander who is a veteran in underwater diving, opened this first-ever underwater museum by cutting the ribbon. Speaking on the occasion, the Navy Commander expressed his thanks to the Southern Naval Area Commander, Rear Admiral Kassapa Paul and other officers and sailors of the command for playing a praiseworthy role during the construction of this mega project.

It is also believed that this underwater sculpture park will contribute greatly to the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, which is starting to thrive following the coronavirus pandemic.

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