It is no secret that the destruction of the marine ecosystem due to natural and human activities deals a deadly blow to the fishing industry, tourism and ornamental fish industry making an adverse impact on the country's economy. As a result of illegal fishing practices, use of explosives and discharge of harmful pollutants into the marine environment by certain individuals, the coral reefs and natural marine environment required for fish breeding are now dangerously poised, threatening the survival of fish species as well as other marine life.
In this backdrop, the Sri Lanka Navy is constantly on the lookout for the adverse effects of such human activities on the marine environment and is committed to protecting the marine biodiversity around Sri Lanka and passing on its resources to the future generation, through the implementation of various projects.
Accordingly, the Sri Lanka Navy embarked on the creation of underwater museums with the primary objective of attracting tourists, creating artificial reefs for coral growth and creating an artificial breeding environment for fish. As the opening gambit of the project, the first underwater museum created by the Navy was declared in the seas off Galle Harbour on 05th April 2020.
As of now, the underwater museum, which was created in the Galle Harbour, has become an ideal breeding ground for fish and other marine life and the very fact bears testament to the success of the first phase of the project. Taking the initial step forward, the Navy also created the country's second underwater museum off the coast of Sandy Bay, Trincomalee on 10th July 2020.
As an extension of this well-intentioned project, the third (03rd) Underwater Gallery fashioned by Sri Lanka Navy was declared open as ‘Underwater Gallery Nilwella’ off Nilwella in Matara on 10th April 2021. Apart from the scuba divers, this attractive site, located at the depth from 04 to 10 meters, can be easily viewed by snorkeling and plying by dinghies with glass bottoms.
As this neck of the woods is known to be a popular tourist destination, a number of local and foreign diving enthusiast often make here to be mesmerized by the exquisiteness of underwater. Bringing a whole new experience to the avid divers, this latest ‘Underwater Gallery Nilwella’ had been created, as an attractive prospect of the country. Meanwhile, this underwater gallery includes sculptures, structures and other artifacts moulded by ecofriendly materials, discarded vehicles and aircraft as well as artificial substrates specially designed for coral growing. Some of the models here are made by small pieces of rock so that seaweeds and corals can easily grow on those surfaces and create an environment conducive to natural fish breeding in a very short period of time.
Sri Lanka Navy was well supported by a number of state and private organizations in carrying out this major project. In addition to this project, Sri Lanka Navy, under the guidance and directives of Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, scuttled some aging fleet units in sea last year, with a view to create artificial fish breeding grounds and attractive diving sites for local and foreign divers. Moreover, the Navy has indulged its passion for a coral replanting project to conserve corals which are considered as an important underwater ecosystem.
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