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Scuba Diving in Lanzarote
Dive Site: Los Erizos Wrecks (The Harbour Wrecks)
Location: Puerto del Carmen
Length: 20 & 45 metres (65 & 150 feet)
Depth: 12 - 40 metres (40 - 130 feet)
Visibility: 15 - 20 metres (50 - 65 feet)
The site can be accessed from the shore, we did it from a rib. The top of the first wreck is at 12 metres and the bottom is at around 22 metres. A steel vessel with all the usual Canary Island fish in the area including rays, angel sharks, cuttlefish, barracuda, amber jacks and all of the wrasse family. Drop off the ledge to around 30 metres to two more wrecks that appear to be about flat now. Much wreckage. There are more wrecks in the immediate area.
David Drew, PADI Advanced Open Water
The Harbour Wrecks Resources
A nice collection of purposefully sunk fishing vessels in 12-40m of water usually surrounded my much fish and marine life. One of the (perhaps even the) most popular dive on Lanzarote attracting many Europeans divers, especially British divers who like these wrecks very much - must be in the blood!
Having dived this (and guided) on many occasions, it is difficult to single out a specific dive. The wrecks have remained much the same over the last 10 years, however the marine life is a mixture of resident and transient. The beauty about the site is that you just don't know what will come along, like a manta ray (a rare sighting in Lanzarote), a submersible or a pod of dolphins!
The site is ideal for novice and experienced dives alike, lending itself well to multi-level diving, and Nitrox Enriched air. Accessible legally by boat only, the wreck park consists of approximately 5 deliberately sunk (in the 1970's by members of BSAC-Bob Wright) wooden fishing vessels resting in 24-41m. There is however another, a 50m long steel transport vessel sunk in the mid 1980's and lying on a shelf, from to 12-24m, and is the starting point of every dive.
If the deeper profile is being made, this boat is bypassed until the return journey, as divers "jump" over its hull and lava cliff towards the first of the vessels, locally known as the "steamer", as it still retains its funnel, the bow and stern sections disintegrated.
Many bream can be seen, as one passes across from this wreck to the next 2-3 wrecks, which have crunched into each other, although some pieces retain wreck-like qualities. Many pieces of recognisable wreckage are around, bits of hull, bow sections, winches, some of which is cloaked heave fishnets. A closer look reveals original wooden decking, whilst on the coarse sand bottom striped mullet "graze".
All of the wrecks here start in 30m to around 35m, and the middle 2-3 wrecks have melded together to form a jungle of hull, decking, machinery and assorted pieces of maritime fishing. Many lines dangle vertically upwards into the atmospheric blue.
Another more intact wreck looms, further out, starting at 35m to 40m. This is known as the "propeller" wreck, because it still retains the iron propeller and rudder. The top part retains its wooden ribbed decking, but it is still in good condition. All of these wrecks should not be penetrated as they are disintegrating slowly.
The propeller is at 40m and on ascent back to the deck several large great barracuda can be spotted cruising suspiciously in the water column, circled warily by various fish varieties. Moving up the hull a large square block of rock comes into view in front of the main reef wall, here small shoals of bream & arrow crabs can be spotted. The main reef wall to the right has a piece of superstructure, which has now fallen slightly over the cliff, and to its left is a cavern at 24-28m, containing many brightly coloured red, yellow & white sponges.
Don't stay to long, because bottom time is now limited. Damselfish congregate on the reef top, small clusters of large zebra bream flutter by as you head across the sand. There could be a chance spotting of angel shark, as you make your way perpendicular to the reef wall & wrecks. About 30m westward across the sand a large lava rock reef ridge opens up with a small cavern area. It is here you can sometimes find large rounded stingrays and other transient specie, at certain times of the year. If you are good on air, then it's ok to go here, if you are not then its best to follow the reef wall on your right hand side back to the steel transport. The upper part of the reef wall is home to bright coloured telematactis anemones, sometimes with attendant shrimps. Many cables, the odd tyre and a huge clump of rope complete the picture.
Soon a dark shape looms up, and the mast stern mast array is seen above the steel wreck, the port propeller partially buried. The vessel dangles some 10m over the side of the reef cliff top by its bow and the stern still has a propeller visible. The wreck rests mainly on its starboard side and creates some stunning wide-angle wreck shots and you can swim literally under the bow.
Aside from the stone grey lava, the seabed sand at 20m is a dull salt & pepper form with brightly coloured red armoured starfish. Bits of piping can be home to common octopus and a nearby low ridge lends interest but watch out for the numerous black sea urchins. It is best dived in the late afternoon when the sun is still around but when the shift change of fish is occurring. As you ascend gradually, using the wreck as a "pinnacle", spiralling around it the fish species grow in number with many grey and traffic light parrotfish grazing the algae. It is here where, just off the wreck in mid water shoals of zebra and other bream varieties float lazily and in the distance a selection of hungry barracuda sit waiting to pounce!
It is quite interesting watching this "dance of death" as you cruise around the exterior of the steel wreck, which should not be penetrated. You can still see the engine & pistons and have a quick peek into the deckhouse. There are several nudibranch varieties including hypselodoris & flabellina, whilst trumpetfish are resident. An occasional moray sighting can be made and you can spot seahorses!
Suddenly in the long shadows of the sun a flash catches your attention. It is an enormous mass of bogue and/or sardines, which swish by one way then another, catching the weak rays on their silver bodies. It is at this time, you've forgotten that you really need to start to get out because you're low on air! The dappled sunlight pierces the sea surface, sparkling yellow & silver. The underside of the boat can be seen clearly, and many of the divers are already on the boat.
There are several alternate dives to be had, a reverse (anti-clockwise) direction, and the reef wall to the south west, and so forth. Whatever you do, all dives must finish under the boat.
The wreck of Los Erizos is the main wreck dive done at "The Wrecks" from Puerto Del Carmen harbour in Lanzarote. There are actually 3 more wrecks here all very broken up and located around 10 metres deeper than the Erizos which is lying on its starboard side in 22 metres of water. Usually dived from small hardboats or a RIB the wreck has a permanent shot line which makes descent and ascent comfortable. The wreck itself is very picturesque and there are big scorpionfish that have made their homes here. You can peer into the wreck though open portholes which make for good photographs. There are large numbers of sea urchins on the sea floor and barracuda and jacks hang in the clear blue water. As you head towards the bow the sea floor drops down and the bow itself is actually hanging slightly out over the drop-off. About 10 metres below and off to the port side there is the wreckage of 3 other vessels, parts of which are identifiable, but most of which is razed to the seabed. One of the more unique features of this site is that it is visited by a submersible vessel - the SeaCat. This is a local tourist attraction and is essentially a sealed boat which uses ballast tanks and pivoting thrusters to submerge to depths of 30 metres. It's quite a sight seeing a large white submersible cruising around the wrecks with divers on SCUBA attached to the outside.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
My club dived here with Calypso Dive, who chartered a boat from another operator, Safari Dive Center on the beach at Puerto del Carmen. This is possible to dive from the shore, but is not recommended by local divers as it is at the mouth of a busy harbour.
Please note: dive site directory cannot endorse any recommendations that have been made by divers leaving contributions on the directory.
Having not previously dived any wrecks it is hard to provide feedback on this location however from a personal view point I found Los Erizos a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable place to dive. The boat lies at around 18m and it structure is largely intact with plenty to explore.
Louise Harris, trainee BSAC Ocean Diver
March 2007 Update
The permanent shot line is quite often removed (probably by local fishermen), so is not necessarily present on the site. When diving with Safari, they drop a long metal chain & anchor down, mooring slightly off the top wreck (about 25m off its stern).
The superstructure block at the end of the wreck park is now completely off the wall and vertically on its side just away from the 28m deep cave. Last time I counted (Mar 2007) there were at least 4-5 wooden wrecks down there: 1) With funnel, 2) Deep one with propeller, 3) 2 together in centre and possibly another between these and the deeper propeller wreck.
The deepest wreck, max depth 41m, containing the propeller, has started to disintegrate much more, as from amidships to stern this section has fallen over on its starboard side, thus revealing ribs and propeller even more. The wrecks shouldn't be penetrated or touched as they seem to be disintegrating much faster now, and the wooden parts crumble easily.
This March we saw pelagic species of hydroids, pregnant rays, angel sharks along the nearby reef, octopus, and the fish above the top wreck seems to have increased.
All these wrecks have been covered up because they are extending the port, I didn't find that out untill I got there. Just to let anyone going there on their travels soon know. Sorry!!
Richard Yeatman, PADI Master Scuba Diver
As I understand it, the wrecks are NOT covered up - it's just no one is allowed to dive them for the time being until the port extension is completed (see photo above). Please read on, based on a vist last year a recent visit and replies to questions I asked local dive centres.
One of the most popular dive sites at Lanzarote, dived by many visiting tourist & local divers, the Los Erizos Wreck Park (Old Harbour Wrecks) in Spring'08 saw its closure to the diving community until sometime in 2009.
These boats deliberately sunk in the 1970/80's and accessed by boat only, were certainly a big attraction for divers, however the closure was to allow the Puerto del Carmen fishing harbour to expand greatly, creating hundreds more berths. This is probably to keep up with the competition from nearby Puerto Calero and Playa Blanca Marinas.
Having talked to various people in the know (local dive centres and local prominent divers). Re-opening of the Old Wreck Park will likely find much of the 22m shelf area to the back is un-diveable as it's within the harbour confines. The shallow wreck (12-22m) is likely to have some of its stern merged with the new harbour wall rocks, and it has been muted that some damage to the deeper wrecks is slightly likely, resulting from boulders being dropped badly.
It's not doom & gloom, and it should be looked at from a more positive angle. Once opened, it'll become a multilevel dive and the marine eco-system should change with numerous rock-dwelling species taking up residence in the harbour wall boulders. With the influx of these marine creatures comes more predators, so hope to see more barracuda, angle sharks, rays, shoaling bream & jacks. Perhaps even shore (from Muella Pesqueros/Black Beach) or night dives may be possible, as its now out of the way of the harbour entrance - currently both are deemed illegal.
New Wreck Park
Until the park is once again available, many dive boat operators are diving the New Wrecks just opposite Barranco de Kikere - on Punta Tinosa 5 minutes along the coast. These 3 wooden ex-fishing boats were deliberately sunk a few years ago, and since then have moved due to storms - to a deeper position. The deepest of the wrecks 27-33m is usually infrequently dived owing to its depth and (lack of) proximity to the other two, as boats moor near the shallowest one at 17-23m. Slightly broken up but still wreck-like, surrounded by many fish & marine species, however the second wreck is 40m eastwards at 21-27m, remaining more intact. They rest on bright white sand, further landwards is darker mixed sand, where rays & angel sharks are found. At the current location of the wrecks shore diving is conducted by some but I would not recommend it, as it involves a steep climb down cliff steps and a 75m swim out (and return) and the area can be subject to currents.
The mainland reef wall 50m away is very interesting, but involves a long swim & return to the moored boat. This wreck park is a deeper profile more suited to advanced divers, preferably with Nitrox, but is well worth diving it - as like its close neighbour Punta Tinosa - you never know what could turn up as its in a prominent piece of coastline.
So, when you visit Lanzarote for the next few months DO NOT be put off by the wreck park closure. The new wrecks DO offer a good alternative. There are other wrecks to dive like the excellent RABAT wreck, and many other smaller craft - and the 33m deep wreck at Punta Tinosa dive site.
Lanzarote is not just a few wrecks, it has much much more to offer in the way of varied, plentiful & diverse marine creatures in clear waters. See Mala dives. Also, Red Cross is another favourite as well as Richies Place, Fariones Reef, further south with Pechiguera Faro & El Emisario & Papagayo Reefs, and far north where some superb diving exists in the Chinijo Archipeligo Marine Park Reserve (organisation/permit needed).
See www.safaridiving.com, beach front dive centre for atypical local dive schedules.
Wreck Park Update Nov. 2008
While visiting Lanzarote in November, the Lanzarotian government announced that the Puerto Del Carmen Harbour extension works are likely to be completed by May 2009.
See: http://www.gazettelanzarote.com/news.htm, for a fuller description (dated 01/11/2008).
This means there is every chance the Underwater Wreck Park (known as Los Erizos after the sea urchins, or Barcos de Hundidos after the sunken boats) will be open once more around this time. Between Aug and Nov there has been plenty of work as much more can now be seen above the water line. From this we can deduce these works have probably left the wreck park reasonably unscathed – but only time will tell.
Possible affects from the workings on Rays & Marine life
In November, it was noticeable by myself other divers and regular dive groups there, a distinct absence of rays at dive sites either side of the wreck park. During the cooler months there are many ray sightings.
This is probably temporary, having left the area owing to the noise generated by the works. Rays seen in Lanzarote are mainly bottom dwellers with their eyes and spiracles on top of the head, whilst their mouth is below. Bottom feeding is done by electro-receptors and smell, as the eyes cannot see the prey, and arching the body up as it forces its prey from within the sand. Diet includes small bony fishes like scorpion, flounder, as well as shrimps, crustaceans. So any continuous disturbances such as these works are likely to have upset their food patterns. Groups of rounded stingrays (some 3m across) usually lived in the harbour confines, and many common stingrays were seen cruising around the wrecks.
Only the occasional butterfly or eagle ray was spotted with several torpedo rays further a field. Angel shark sightings at the time seem to remain unchanged, with several sightings at the nearby Playa Chica, Blue Hole (both east of wreck park), and Punta Tinosa (west of wreck park). If anything, the smaller fish populations may have been displaced a little, that used the wrecks for shelter, as many sightings of predators occurred, such as amberjacks, tunas, bonito, and numerous barracuda.
The wreck site was not left unscathed but very damaged: the steel trawler is part-covered with the rocks that make the footings of the new wall and the deep cave is fully covered with rocks & blocks. All the wrecks have been damaged and broken . I know tony is out there now so hopefully a new map will soon be uploaded…
Neo — 15/11/2010
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