Fishermen have left many of the first underwater museum’s 117 sculptures – including a giant statue of Poseidon – badly damaged after flouting a ban on dropping anchors in the area.
The Side Underwater Museum, which was erected 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) off the coast of the resort town of Side in the south-western Turkish province of Antalya, has reportedly suffered significant damage from local fishermen dropping their anchors on the site despite a ban on them doing so.
The site, which was set up in 2015 in three sections at depths of 11, 18 and 22 metres (36, 59 and 72 feet) respectively and is home to some 117 sculptures, has also reportedly not been properly maintained.
The statues reportedly took nine months to complete and include a giant sculpture of the Ancient Greek sea god Poseidon.
The site has reportedly been visited by over 70,000 people since it was set up and has become a favourite with diving enthusiasts.
But in recent days, images showing the underwater museum have caused a stir, as they appear to show that many of the statues are either broken or lying on their sides.
The statues are partially covered by fishing nets, and lost anchors can also be seen on the seafloor, with local media reporting that fishing vessels have been flouting a ban that prohibits them from operating in the vicinity of the museum.
Sahin Gercek, who has a diving school in Side, reportedly said that the underwater museum is now ugly and dangerous to diving enthusiasts due to the lost anchors. He said: “Both professionals and amateurs can dive in this area.
“Our biggest pain is that this museum is neglected. Since 2015, no one has been interested.
“The nets that were thrown overturned the statues. We have seen and identified them.
“There are broken statues. It’s dangerous. Iron has come out from the broken statues.
“Divers can be injured by these iron rods coming out of the statues when visibility is poor. Divers are also disappointed when they see this view.”
But Cuneyt Kosu, the Antalya Branch Manager for the Istanbul and Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea Regions Chamber of Maritime Commerce (IMEAK), said that funds are allocated to the budget to maintain the statues every year.
He added: “We even just replaced the broken buoys. We allocate whatever is required according to annual needs. It is expected that the sculptures will be damaged over time.
“This is inevitable. However, this area, which has been declared as a forbidden area, needs to be well protected by the local people.
“I saw it when I was diving too. The statues were damaged due to faulty anchorages and fishing with nets. We saw that it was broken and the statues were covered with nets.”
It is currently unclear how much it will cost to repair the statues and if this is something that the local authorities are considering doing.
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Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: William McGee, Agency: Newsflash
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