ONE YEAR ON: Tobruk a haven for marine life
HUNDREDS of divers have explored ex-HMAS Tobruk since its scuttling almost 12 months ago.
The world-class dive site off Hervey Bay has garnered positive feedback after it was declared safe for diving in late February.
As the anniversary of the ship's scuttling approaches this weekend, Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said divers were reporting an abundance of marine wildlife living on the wreck.
"In fact, there are now resident turtles that have made the wreck their home, including one hawksbill turtle who has been nicknamed Harry, two green turtles named Crush and Buttons, and one very large loggerhead named Larry," Ms Enoch said.
Dive operator Ed Gibson from Hervey Bay Dive Centre said ex-HMAS Tobruk had not disappointed.
"We have just returned from our 42nd trip to the wreck since access was granted, and the ship continues to amaze us each dive, as she is evolving into this wonderful marine habitat," Mr Gibson said.
"Apart from the tens of thousands of varied bait fish and common reef species populating the ship, we recently have also identified some lionfish, banded shrimp, octopus, a hooked-nosed sea snake and quite a few species of soft coral starting to propagate the wreck as well.
"As the water temp has dropped a few degrees, the improvement in visibility has been great, with an average of 15m on a bad day."
The wreck is expected to generate more than $1million for the local economy annually and support about 20 jobs in the region.
Minister for Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones said word was spreading internationally about the world-class dive experience of ex-HMAS Tobruk.
Ms Jones said the State Government had invested $1million to promote the site.
"In just over a month, the campaign has reached more than 2.5million travellers in elevating the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast region as one of the best places to experience nature," she said.
"The promotion of this site is also extending internationally.
"The ex-HMAS Tobruk dive site has been featured at world dive expos including in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, and in the US and Sydney later this year."
See tomorrow's Chronicle for more on the Tobruk anniversary.