The lost shipwreck of a passenger steamer that went down near the Golden Gate in San Francisco has been rediscovered.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced the discovery of the remains of the SS City of Chester on Wednesday. NOAA’s Coast Survey Navigational Response Team 6 discovered the wreck last year during a sonar survey of the San Francisco Bay.
The City of Chester was built in 1875 and sank in 1888. Carrying 90 passengers, the ship was steaming away from San Francisco toward Eureka, Calif., on Aug. 22 of that year. The fog that day was dense.
Only a few minutes into the voyage, around 10 a.m., the City of Chester was traveling through the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco Bay that is now spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship was struck by the Oceanic, another ship arriving at the harbor from Asia.
The City of Chester lasted only six minutes before the ship sunk, according to NOAA. Sixteen people died in the wreck, and the public initially raised a racially charged outcry against the Asian immigrants on the Oceanic. Stories of those passengers’ heroism in saving victims on the City of Chester soon dampened those cries, however.
The wreck’s location in the aftermath of the sinking was no mystery, said James Delgado, the director of maritime heritage for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. In 1888, the now-defunct U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey dragged a wire behind a tugboat and snagged the hull of what they believed to be the City of Chester. Salvage diver Capt. Robert Whitelaw also claimed to have sent a diver to the shipwreck in 1890. Whitelaw reported that the ship was cut nearly in two by the Oceanic’s blow.
The diver “said there were bodies in the wreck, and it spooked him and he didn’t want to go back,” Delgado told Live Science.
But over the years, the wreck was largely forgotten, except as a footnote as the second-deadliest maritime disaster at the Golden Gate. In May 2013, NOAA’s Coast Survey team was conducting a sonar survey in preparation for the America’s Cup yacht race, Delgado said. He asked the team to venture into the area where the City of Chester might have gone down.
The team was able to find the ship, “zoom in” with sonar and survey it. The survey revealed 202-foot-long (62 meters) City of Chester sitting upright at the edge of a shoal in 216 feet (66 m) of water, “shrouded in mud,” Delgado said.
The hull rises 18 feet (5.5 m) from the ocean floor, and high-resolution sonar even located the gash from the collision on the port side of the ship, NOAA reported.
The discovery highlights the use of science and technology in ocean exploration, Delgado said, adding that he hopes the mission inspires young people to study science.
“Not only are we boldly going and finding new life [in the oceans],” he said, “we’re finding evidence of past civilization.”
There are no plans to raise the wreck, and the strong currents and murkey water at the Golden Gate make diving to the wreck a dangerous proposition, Delgado said. NOAA intends to create an exhibit about the ship at the office of the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary at Crissy Field in San Francisco and will also work with Google Oceans to put information about the wreck online, Delgado said.
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Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater
In the vast and vibrant underwater world of Costa Rica, there’s a peculiar creature that often goes unnoticed but holds a special place in the hearts of divers: the frogfish. This enigmatic and somewhat odd-looking species is a master of camouflage and a marvel of marine life. Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is not just a dive; it’s an adventurous treasure hunt that rewards the patient and observant with unforgettable encounters. Let’s dive into the world of frogfish and discover what makes these creatures so fascinating and where you can find them in Costa Rica.
The Mystique of Frogfish
Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae, a group of marine fish known for their incredible ability to blend into their surroundings. They can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, red, green, black, and white, and they often have unique spots and textures that mimic the coral and sponges around them. This camouflage isn’t just for show; it’s a critical survival tactic that helps them ambush prey and avoid predators.
One of the most remarkable features of the frogfish is its modified dorsal fin, which has evolved into a luring appendage called an esca. The frogfish uses this esca to mimic prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, enticing unsuspecting victims close enough to be engulfed by its surprisingly large mouth in a fraction of a second. This method of hunting is a fascinating spectacle that few divers forget once witnessed.
Where to Find Frogfish in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is dotted with dive sites that offer the chance to encounter these intriguing creatures. Bat Islands (Islas Murciélagos), Catalina Islands (Islas Catalinas), and the area around the Gulf of Papagayo are renowned for their rich marine life, including frogfish. These sites vary in depth and conditions, catering to both novice and experienced divers.
The key to spotting frogfish is to dive with a knowledgeable guide who can point out these master camouflagers hiding in plain sight. They’re often found perched on rocky outcroppings, nestled within coral, or even hiding among debris, perfectly mimicking their surroundings.
Diving Tips for Spotting Frogfish
Go Slow: The secret to spotting frogfish is to move slowly and scan carefully. Their camouflage is so effective that they can be right in front of you without being noticed.
Look for Details: Pay attention to the small details. A slightly different texture or an out-of-place color can be the clue you need.
Dive with Local Experts: Local dive guides have an eagle eye for spotting wildlife, including frogfish. Their expertise can significantly increase your chances of an encounter.
Practice Buoyancy Control: Good buoyancy control is essential not just for safety and coral preservation but also for getting a closer look without disturbing these delicate creatures.
Be Patient: Patience is key. Frogfish aren’t known for their speed, and sometimes staying in one spot and observing can yield the best sightings.
Conservation and Respect
While the excitement of spotting a frogfish can be thrilling, it’s crucial to approach all marine life with respect and care. Maintain a safe distance, resist the urge to touch or provoke, and take only photos, leaving behind nothing but bubbles. Remember, the health of the reef and its inhabitants ensures future divers can enjoy these incredible encounters as much as you do.
Join the Adventure
Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is just one of the many underwater adventures that await in this biodiverse paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or taking your first plunge, the waters here offer an unparalleled experience filled with wonders at every turn. Beyond the thrill of the hunt for frogfish, you’ll be treated to a world teeming with incredible marine life, majestic rays, playful dolphins, and so much more.
So, gear up, dive in, and let the mysteries of Costa Rica’s underwater realm unfold before your eyes. With every dive, you’re not just exploring the ocean; you’re embarking on an adventure that highlights the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our marine ecosystems. And who knows? Your next dive might just be the one where you come face-to-face with the elusive and captivating frogfish. Join us at Rocket Frog Divers for the dive of a lifetime, where the marvels of the ocean are waiting to be discovered.
About the Author: Jonathan Rowe
Are you looking to make a splash online? As a seasoned diver and digital marketer, I specialize in crafting bespoke websites and innovative marketing strategies for dive shops worldwide. With my expertise, your business will not only be seen but also remembered.
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