Wreck diving is a fascinating area of interest for many divers, because it presents a learning opportunity for both the past and present in two vastly different realms: mankind’s history and marine ecology. For a truly unique wreck diving experience, you can’t miss Hawaii’s Corsair wreck.
Located about three miles off the southeastern shore of Oahu, the wreckage of the Corsair hails from 1948, at the end of World War II. The Corsair airplane was a gull-winged propeller-driven fighter plane built for the US Navy in WWII. This particular Corsair met her end in 1948 when the pilot mistook a very real warning for fuel loss for a faulty gauge, resulting in its crash landing into the Pacific near its current location. The landing was so perfectly executed that she sunk completely intact, and the pilot was rescued from the water in his life jacket unharmed.
What’s unique about the Corsair wreck is that it lies in an underwater desert — an area with no structures whatsoever, just sand and strong currents. However, the Corsair has become quite the reef community these days, teeming with corals, invertebrates, and schooling fish of various sizes and habits. She rests at 100 feet below the surface, where little light penetrates the deep blue, yet just enough to allow healthy colonies of hard corals to flourish.
Because of the depth and sometimes strong currents, this is a site for advanced divers, but those who do go on the dive will be well rewarded with sightings of moray eels, squirrelfish, snappers, pufferfish, stingrays, and garden eels, and perhaps even a cameo from a manta ray, tiger shark, or humpback whale when the season is right. Check out this incredible PBS footage of a dive just last year at this marvelous oasis in the underwater desert.
Image via mattk1979