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Baja California Sinks Ship For State’s First Artificial Reef

The Sinking Of Uribe 121

The government of Baja California, Mexico, sinks an old navy ship in Puerto Nuevo on November 21, 2015. The sunken ship will become the basis of an artificial reef.

Baja California just started its first artificial reef about 30 miles south of the border, off the coast near Rosarito, with the sinking of an old Navy patrol boat.

The sunken Uribe 121 is meant to lure tourists to the Rosarito area during off-peak seasons, from fall through spring, when conditions for Baja California scuba diving are best because of clear visibility and warmer water.

Mexican officials estimate that the artificial reef will attract about 40,000 scuba divers a year, as well as $3 million in annual revenue from spending at hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

Officials expect many of these visitors to come from California, which has about 100,000 certified scuba divers.

“We want tourism sites of high cultural and economic value, to benefit our residents,” said Baja California Governor Francisco Vega, who was at the sinking event on Saturday alongside other Mexican officials.

The ship now sits in the Pacific Ocean, about 90 feet deep. In the coming months, a natural marine habitat will form in and around it, a new dwelling for plankton, algae, fish, other crevice-seeking sea creatures and their predators.

The Uribe 121 sinking is the first step toward creating a large Rosarito Marine Park, with underwater sculptures and a ship graveyard that will include three more vessels, officials said.

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