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The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef #552368
08/31/21 04:22 AM
08/31/21 04:22 AM
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Wit Turneffe, New Dive Site, 375ft Concrete Ship to be Sunk

TASA AND PARTNERS PRESENT A NEW EXCITING BLUE ECONOMY AND MARINE TOURISM DIVE DESTINATION

The Organization's Entry into Tourism Management and a Path to Self-Sustainabiliy

The Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), in collaboration with Blackbird Caye Resort and Blue Finance with support from the Ministry of Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations & the Belize Tourism Board announces the submersion of a 375-foot concrete ship, The Wit Concrete, donated by ASR-BSI, to become Belize's largest wreck dive and reef enhancement project to be located at Blackbird Caye, within the Soldier Caye Conservation Zone in the Tumeffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

The presentation of this new dive destination "The Wit, Turneffe", will relieve stress on natural reef habitats, while providing an exciting alternative wreck dive destination. The initiative places Belize on a regional map positioning this new blue economy and marine tourism national product among the largest wreck dive destinations in the Caribbean. The destination is comparative to its sister ship sunk in US Virgin Islands in 1995 — The WitConcrete II where it has become one of that islands premier dive sites.

Affectionately known as 'The Wit', she was used as a floating transfer station to transport supplies around the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard of the US during the second world war. Presumably one of the largest of approximately a dozen concrete ships built between 1942 and 1944, The Wit measures roughly 375 ft in length, 58ft in width and 38ft in depth. Most recently, she was used for the storage of molasses by the Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. (BSI), who gifted her to TASA in May 2021.

This new reef enhancement project is intended to provide a new source of income for the marine reserve and its stakeholders, by attracting wreck divers for a new and unique diving experience in the Turneffe Atoll, as well as increasing marine biodiversity. "Wreck diving is an increasingly popular activity that draws a select population of environmentally conscious divers from across the world. Over the years. marine flora and fauna will use The Wit's walls, rooms and cabins, filling them with a different history, as the wreck gradually blends into the existing reef system" says Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director of TASA.

Guided by Joe Weatherby, President of Artificial Reefs International and expert in planned submersion of ships, The Wit is being extensively cleaned and prepped by the most capable local marine experts. She will meet both national and U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, ensuring the absence of hazardous materials that can negatively impact the ecosystem in which she will reside. She will also be made more diver friendly, by widening and in some cases creating access points for ease of entry and exit for the safety of the divers that will enjoy this new dive destination for Belize. Once cleared by the Department of Environment, she will be towed to the site and sunk before the end of September 2021.

Funds collected from the wreck diving through the park entrance fee system will assist in funding TASA's operations and other programs in the Tumeffe Atoll Marine Reserve. In the long term, TASA aims to develop an impactful and exclusive experience where divers can directly participate in scientific monitoring, protection of the area and other new exciting opportunities.

The ship is expected to sink in September. There will be live footage of the ship sinking. All belize tour operators will be able to schedule dives through TASA. There will be a fee much like the Blue Hole in order to transition TASA into a sustainable model, so they can ensure the pristine nature of Turneffe.

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Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #552389
09/01/21 04:17 AM
09/01/21 04:17 AM
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Posts: 81,179
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Marty Offline OP

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The Wit Turneffe Project is aiming to create a dive site on par with the renowned Blue Hole. Built to store molasses, the Witconcrete holds a story of her own which will be told through a partnership between the government, private sector and international stakeholders with the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) at its helm. The sinking of this ship will be done safely and sustainably to create jobs, help Belize's economy bounce back, restore the coral reef, and give Belize another reason to be added to the worldwide bucket list of tourist destinations.


Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #552422
09/02/21 04:31 AM
09/02/21 04:31 AM
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'The Wit, Turneffe' - A new diving destination to be launched in September

Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #552672
09/14/21 04:51 AM
09/14/21 04:51 AM
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Big Ship to Be Buried At the Bottom Of The Sea

Belize is all ready to launch its newest tourism product; it's a sunken ship that's poised to be a marine marvel and quite the adventure for the daring diver. But it's coming at a whopping cost of 3 million dollars, that's according to TASA executive director Valdemar Andrade who today told the Press that while initial investment in this product is indeed costly, the business plan around it is sound.

But rather than just talk numbers the director wanted to show not tell, and this morning he and his team took four journalists out to the still floating Wit Concrete to give us an idea for the scale of the project:



The Wit Concrete will be sunken on September 20th.

TASA's hope is that the revenue garnered from its upscale consumer base will help them to earn the 2 million dollars needed annually to manage The Turneffe Atoll reserve.

We'll be heading out to sea for the sinking as well and we'll keep following the story.

========================

It's the final countdown for the Witconcrete to be fully submerged in Turneffe! As an innovation in ocean conservation, the Wit will become an integral part of Belize’s tourism industry as a premiere wreck dive site in addition to serving as a site for fish breeding, aggregation and reef enhancement projects.

This first in its kind project, 'The Wit, Turneffe', will become the backbone of a new reef ecosystem - compounding as a conservational masterpiece whereby all its revenue and proceeds will fund the conservation and protection of underwater ecosystems across the Turneffe Atoll.

“The Wit” is a testament to Belizean glory and will pioneer the reimagining of conservation tourism. As a result, it is only fitting that this historic ship is sunken on the Eve of our Independence.

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Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #552874
09/23/21 05:05 AM
09/23/21 05:05 AM
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Wit Resisted The Depths

We switch now to something that refused to sink. That's the Wit Concrete, the ship that's poised to become the next Blue Hole, a diving adventure for every diver's bucket list.

But while it was set to be scuttled on Monday, it didn't quite make it into the depths.

Cherisse Halsall was out on the water for that first failed attempt and brings us this story.

It should have been a story of how the Wit was sunk. But despite all the careful preparations explained here, by TASA's executive director Valdemar Andrade, it wasn't to be, at least not that day.

Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA
"So the idea is once you get everything into position, then everyone comes off the ship, all equipment comes off the ship, and then it's not really a push the button, they're set on timers and so we're supposed to get a 30-minute alert and a 15-minute alert and after that then the explosives would go off."

"The idea is to get the stern anchor on, get as many of the anchors on, hold it in position with the tugs, pre-fill to a certain position, and then we will do the sinking. NOw we will advise in a bit whether we will do that today or whether that can happen on another day."

At that point, we were all uncertain of what would happen but we did know that the sinking of the ship whatever it takes place will be expensive, carrying a cost of 3 million dollars to be exact.

That's steep during a pandemic but, rest assured it's not your tax dollars at work, Director of Ecology at Blue Finance Angelique Braithwaite explained:

Angelique Brathwaite, Director of Ecology and Management, Blue Finance
"So we actually structured a deal, we structured a deal for them blended finance, it's made up of impact investments and also grants and this is what gave them the capital to do the start-up projects that they wanted to do and of course, what we're trying to do is we are trying to encourage people to come to Turneffe."

"And we also want them to pay for the experience just like on land if you're going to a park or even a movie theatre. We want the same thing to happen here except that the money that you're paying then goes right back into conservation."

And no matter how good the deal, the making of Belize's newest diving destination will have to wait.

That's because by three o'clock that afternoon Valdemar was singing a far less optimistic tune.

Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA
"We looked at all the options that we could and actually we went through Plan A,B,and C on what we had planned, they didn't hold up today and so we prefer to err on the side of caution and the precautionary principle so we'll tow it back to Belize lodge it where it was come back and secure everything, all the anchors and everything as best as possible and then come back at it again. It will get done, it's just delayed."

Hon. Andre Perez, Minister, Blue Economy
"It's a ship without an engine so it's a 375 ft ship so we can't just have it there sitting in the water with some anchors, that's dangerous so the logical thing is to take it back to the mainland."

And just like that, with all careful considerations, including environmental ones, accounted for, the Wit wasn't sunk.

Gary Simonian, Owner/Operator, Blackbird Caye Resort
"Weather-wise it was great, unfortunately, we had one of the anchors of the Wit Concrete snap due to the age of the chain on that one, so one anchor less we still had the five large anchors which would have still been possible. During the tug maneuvers we were doing two of the anchor lines snapped underneath and one of the other anchors shifted and so with the devices that were going to secure the ship in position so that with the detonation it goes straight down and nowhere else, not being available like they should be that's when the decision was called that the amount of time it would take to get it done, we'd lose the sunlight and it wouldn't be done by today, and we can't leave the ship out there it's not safe so we're gonna tow it back, we'll getting everything prepped and we'll do it again another day."

Hon. Andre Perez, Minister, Blue Economy
"They had backup plans and if these backup plans aren't working they'll you know go back to the drawing board, we are being very cautious about it because sinking this ship it must be done right and right on the money, it has to be on the right spot, everything has been calculated mathematically so there is no room for mistake, having a delay for a week and a half I think they understand that. So out of an abundance of caution. We do things the right way. Remember that the most important thing in sinking this ship is that it's going to come for decades to be the best dive spot so setting that ship down there the right way how we want is important so delaying it for one week or two weeks is nothing."

And while you could say that the still seaworthy Wit Concrete rebelled against her sinking, she's still destined for the depths.

We'll bring you the actual sinking at a later date.

Conditions will once again have to be just right for the second attempt to Sink the Wit. Organizers are waiting for another sunny day when the sea isn't too rough.

Channel 7


The Wit Remains on the Surface

The Witconcrete did not sink on Monday as was originally scheduled. The team experienced some unforeseen mechanical issue that has now caused the process to be delayed. Those anticipating this new wreck dive site will now have to wait an additional week or two before the ship meets its final resting place on the ocean floor. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the report.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Witconcrete was scheduled to sink on Monday inside the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. Its submersion will create a world-class dive site that will generate income for the protected area. But, due to technical difficulties, plans for sinking the ship were delayed.

Garen Simonyan, Blackbird Caye Resort

“We have had some technical difficulties with the Wit Concrete with the anchors and some of the one-inch steel lines and some mechanical issues. There was a thought that we should go ahead and do it anyway. We both disagreed completely. So, we are going to ere on the side of caution and preserve the reef and everything to do with the environment here. So, unfortunately, it will not be happening today.”

Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA

“We consulted with Joe Weatherbee who is the technical expert on all of this. We look at all options that we could. We went through plans A, B and C on what we had planned. They didn’t hold up today and so we prefer to ere on site of caution, the precautionary principle. So, we will tow it to Belize, lodge it where it was, come back and secure everything, all the anchors everything, as best as possible, and come back at it again.”

The plan was to have the ship aligned perfectly with its final resting place. Once the anchors were secured, the explosives would be timed and then detonated. The ship would have been expected to sink directly to the bottom of the ocean, all calculations considered. But with several anchors compromised, the Wit remained at the ocean’s surface.

Valdemar Andrade

They arrived here at four-thirty this morning, all of that went well and did the positioning. As per the plan, we have the anchors in place. But, as you can see we are having a bit of a challenge to ensure that we secure those anchors in place unto the ship, which is part of the challenge in terms of sinking. The issue with that is that we have to hold it into position so that we are able then to continue pre-filling the tanks. We have already started, but with the maneuvering, it is hard to continue with the pumps .”

The preliminary work to see this leviathan become the dive destination TASA envisioned requires a lot of manpower and coordination. Some thirty sea fearers were out at sea to see the process through.

Valdemar Andrade

“We have around thirty people on there doing different things. You have divers that are diving up the cable lines and ensuring that the cable lines are being brought up to the ship, and ensuring that we position the ship right. We have a couple of boats that are giving the instructions to the tugs as to whether to go east, west, right, left back, forward to get the ship into position to be able to pull up the anchor. Then we have a number of people on the ship pulling up the anchors. We have other teams working on ensuring that we get the explosives in place and everything.”

Coast guard officers were there to ensure that once the explosives were ready to be detonated, onlookers kept a thousand-foot distance. But that was not necessary on Monday, as the mission was aborted. Perhaps, it was a sign that the Wit was not ready to descend to her final resting place. So, tonight she rests at her location, off the coast of Belize, where we first met her.

Andre Perez, Minister of Civil Aviation and Blue Economy

“The region, internationally, the world is watching. And that is why, for what was announced today, they have backup plans and if these backup plans aren’t working, they go back to the drawing board. So they are being very cautious about it. Because, sinking this ship it must be done right, right on the money. It must be at the right spot. Everything has been calculated mathematically. So, there is no room for mistakes. So, having a delay for a week or so is no problem. I think they understand it. So, out of an abundance of caution, we do think the right way.”


<

Channel 5


Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #554465
12/12/21 06:08 AM
12/12/21 06:08 AM
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Posts: 81,179
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After 70 years of service spanning her role in the days of WWII and then our key link in our sugar industry as a storage facility for the byproduct Molasses, she transitions to a retirement of sorts... as she takes on a new role at the bottom of our #blues as a dive & snorkeling attraction... possibly the largest in the Caribbean. WitConcrete was towed to her new resting site, positioned, anchored, fitted for a blast, blasted and then slowly sank to sit at the bottom of the sandy Oasis in our Turneffe Atoll.

Success at the 2nd try... The Wit now becomes a national dive attraction for Belize and a revenue earner for the management of our stunningly beautiful and diverse Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve

Thanks to Beth Watson Images for these awesome pics.

Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association

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Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #554496
12/14/21 05:18 AM
12/14/21 05:18 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,179
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
The Wit Sinks... Finally!

Back in September, we took you out on the water near Turneffe Atoll to show you the sinking of a concrete ship that seemingly refused to go down.

But…of course it did! The Wit Concrete was launched in 1943 - in World War II when steel was scarce and it came to Belize in the mid 80’s, floated in by Tate and Lyle, the sugar company who used it to store molasses.

And, so, after 80 years of being afloat and impregnable of course the Wit didn’t sink on first attempt.

The engineers had to come again, with explosives, and helix pins, and all the machines they could muster to force the old girl down.

And on Friday afternoon, she went down, but not after putting up a lightly fight. This afternoon we spoke to the crew who oversaw and executed the sinking of The Wit.

And the new dive site has also been planned out as a haven for local marine life. It’s expected that over the years, marine flora and fauna will use The Wit’s walls, rooms, and cabins, to make up a 400 foot aquarium as the wreck gradually turns into an artificial reef.



Channel 7

========================

How The Wit Went Down

Back in September, we took you out on the water near Turneffe Atoll to show you the sinking of a concrete ship that seemingly refused to go down.

But of course it did! The Wit Concrete was launched in 1943 - in World War II when steel was scarce and it came to Belize in the mid 80's, floated in by Tate and Lyle, the sugar company who used it to store molasses.

And, so, after 80 years of being afloat and impregnable of course the Wit didn't sink on first attempt.

The engineers had to come again, with explosives, and helix pins, and all the machines they could muster to force the old girl down.

And on Friday afternoon, she went down, but not after putting up a lightly fight. This afternoon we spoke to the crew who oversaw and executed the sinking of The Wit.



And the new dive site has also been planned out as a haven for local marine life. It's expected that over the years, marine flora and fauna will use the Wit's walls, rooms, and cabins, to make up a 400 foot aquarium as the wreck gradually turns into an artificial reef.

Channel 7

Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #554528
12/15/21 10:52 AM
12/15/21 10:52 AM
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Look who is checking out a new habitat.
Divers continue to inspect for safety while a lone fish swims inquisitively around. The WitConcrete in its new home... The Oasis of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.


Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #555166
01/23/22 05:30 AM
01/23/22 05:30 AM
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Video of The Wit at Turneffe


Re: The Wit: Belize's Newest Wreck Dive Destination & Artificial Reef [Re: Marty] #555349
02/02/22 06:26 AM
02/02/22 06:26 AM
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"For a brand new wreck, The Witconcrete at Blackbird Caye Dive Resort has a lot of coral growth and marine life." Dawn Schick

[Linked Image]
Click photos for more pictures!


Wreck at Black Bird Caye, Turneffe, Belize

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