Wreck of the Salvatierra - Suwanee reef

This trip is the shortest of all our dive trips, approximately 4-5 hours in total. Divers have the option to dive two of the three sites or to dive all three on a 3 tank trip. We recommend that one of the dives you choose be the wreck of the Salvatierra, a World War II landing ship tank that was converted into a Mexican ferry.

LST-63 in Salerno, ItalyIn June of 1976 the Salvatierra was navigating the San Lorenzo channel at night and struck Suwanee Rock, tearing a 12 foot long 1 foot wide gash in the engine room. The engines quickly succumbed to the seawater and without power or lights the ship drifted into the channel and sunk in 18m/60ft of water on a sandy plateau. The crew and passengers escaped in the life boat with minor injuries. There was a salvage attempt which failed, you can read more about it here. The ship lies on it's port side with the bow facing south. The stern and bow are largely intact but there are no areas for safe penetration. The special part about this dive site is that it is a real wreck, not sunk intentionally to make an artificial reef. The Salvatierra has a long history, including landings in Italy and France during World War Two. You can read more about her history on this naval history page. It has a healthy population of reef fish and a large diversity of invertebrates both on the wreck itself and the sandy areas surrounding it.

trapezia guard crabSuwanee Reef lies on the northern side of the channel and at it's shallowest point almost reaches the surface. The reef is spread over a large area but the growth is the most abundant close to this shallow point. The reef is dominated by Pocillopora coral species, a thick branching stony coral that grows in large semi-circular clumps. These coral colonies provide a safe haven for many species of fish and invertebrates. Look among the branches for guard crabs, coral hawkfish, pistol shrimp and the flattened shrimp. These creatures don't just get a free ride, their job is to keep the corals clean from sediment and ward off any crown of thorn starfish who might try to make a meal of the coral. Damselfish, schools of Chromis and Sergeant majors a a common sight just above the reef as well as several species of adult and juvenile wrasses. Suwanee Reef is a macro lover's delight, seahorses, nudibranchs and many other invertebrate species can be found here with ease. Sea lions frequent this reef and many species of triggerfish and rays can be found inhabiting the sand surrounding the reef. The reef is circular and can be fully explored in one dive due to it's shallow depth.

San Rafaelito is a small rocky island south of Balandra Bay and home to about 30-40 sea lions. It has one of the most impressive shallow water colonies in La Paz on its east side and a deep wall on the west, making for an interesting dive and a chance to see some different types of reef on the same dive. The sea lions are just as playful as those at Los Islotes and you can observe them while diving in the shallow grotto's of the island.

 

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