Outreach as a means of protection
For centuries, the Baltic Sea has been the main traffic artery in the Baltic Sea region. This has resulted in a large number of casualties at sea. Submerged remains are abundant, and sometimes extremely well preserved. Shipwrecks are ever-popular diving targets among scuba divers. Also professional divers use wreck-diving for practise purposes. This continuous impact puts the underwater cultural heritage under constant threat.
Among the greater public, our underwater cultural heritage is a mostly unknown and unused source of information of the past. The only ones actually having the chance to experience the underwater cultural heritage “hands on” today are the divers. To everyone else, it is invisible and inaccessible. And what you cannot see, you cannot care about, or protect.
Can we use outreach as a means of protection? Can we diminish this threat by creating awareness through a developed, sustainable marine tourism?
The Dalarö Model
The Dalarö archipelago southeast of Stockholm contains a great number of well-preserved shipwrecks from the 17th and 18th centuries. The waters off Dalarö are a traditional hot spot for scuba divers. Each year, 1500-2000 divers are estimated to visit the area.
One negative aspect of the popularity is the many incidents of looting. There is also continuous low-intensive destruction through ware.
The Dalarö Model is a concept developed by the Swedish National Maritime Museums. The concept envisions a wreck-diving park which will enable controlled access to a limited number of shipwrecks. The concept addresses divers as well as non-divers. Divers will get permission to dive on the wrecks when accompanied by a licensed guide.
Non-divers will get access to the underwater cultural heritage through means of boat-safaris with sonar and under water filmmaking-equipment for real-time experience along special trails, and exhibitions and digitally enhanced movies and animated reconstructions of ships for display on widescreen television and on movie screens.
The Dalarö Model enables high-quality intermediation and enhanced accessibility of a better preserved underwater cultural heritage.
(Pernilla Flyg, Diving Park Project Manager, Swedish National Maritime Museums)