The more than 25 sunken ships near the coast make Recife the country’s diving capital for shipwrecks. The warm waters of the city, with average temperatures of 27 degrees celcius, and the high visibility attract tourists from Brazil and other parts of the world. There are no age limits for participating in the sport, aside from being at least 10 years old. It’s necessary to be in good physical shape and to not have epilepsy or a history of seizures. For those wanting to get adventurous, diving schools and courses for starters are abundant.
“We have natural and artificial shipwrecks: the natural ones are those that sank due to bad weather, hitting other ships or ran aground. The artificial shipwrecks park has 8 ships that were sunk for tourism purposes and for university research”, explains Edísio Rocha, 48, owner and instructor of the Centro de Mergulho Aquáticos, in the central region of Recife. Leaving from the Recife Port, the park is about an hour and a half out to sea. Some of the most sought after shipwrecks are the Pirapama, sunk more than 100 years ago, the Flórida, the Taurus and the Mercúrius, the last two being artificial.
The best time to practice diving is from September to May. During the months of June to August, frequent rains make the sea choppy and the visibility, bad. Strong winds also can get in the way and, due to security concerns, the ships destined for diving stay docked. The sumer is the best time and when there are more tourists in the city. Upon signing up for the service, divers visit two shipwrecks. “Normally, you’ll visit the first and farthest away and then, the closest one to the coast, due to logistics”, affirms Edísio.
For those who are interested in diving, but don’t know how, the starters courses last about a week. “Generally people first get ‘baptised’ with a discovery dive, with an individual instructor. After, those looking for fun search for a course”, comments Luiz Cabellero, 48, instructor at the Centro de Mergulho ScubaRec. Cabellero does classes lasting 2.5 hours per day, for five days. At the Centro de Mergulho Aquáticos, however, it’s six days, being four for theoretical lessons and two for diving. After the course, the diver is liscenced and receives a card with international certification.
According to Luiz, the maximum depth that a beginner should go is 25 meters. To go deeper than that or to do nighttime dives, one needs to be specialized: “At night one needs more experience in order to not destroy the environment – the diver might hit their flippers on coral, for example, plus one needs to be able to use flashlights at the same time”.
“Recife might be one of the best diving places in the country”, says Luiz. Maybe that’s why the Pernambuco capital gets international attention: the Centro de Mergulho Aquáticos already signed up divers from North America, Argentina, Russia, Germany, England, and even Japan.
For the businessman Ricardo Cabral, 37, what most fascinates him down below are the landscapes: “It’s another world. I like to see the corals and the fish”. He started diving 3 years ago and estimates that he’s done 40 dives. Administer Fernando Petean, 42, also shares the passion. He started in Fernando de Noronha and then did five qualification courses and one for equipment maintenance. “I did it to be able to take part in better, more difficult dives. I’m passionate about the sea and I enjoy nighttime dives”, he says.
Necessary equipment to take the adventure includes a mask and flippers. The cilinder, vest and regulator are supplied by the company contracted for the dive. “Before diving, it’s important to get to know the company, see their physical installations, take a look at the ship used and even verify that the instructors are liscenced internationally”, recommends Edísio. The instructor also explains that a form needs to be filled out before diving and a medical history is required.
SHARKS – Despite the Recife coast having sightings of shark attacks, Edísio guarantees that there’s no risk of accidents during the dives. “We dive in open sea, far from the coast, the only shark that we’ve seen there is from the nurse species, which isn’t aggresive, it has small teach and eats via suction”, he says. Also, according to Edísio, water at high sea is clean and full of life, opposite the dreggish waters with low-visibility on the coast. Sharks that attack on the coastline stay on the coast.