THE Coogee dive trail opens tomorrow (Sunday, February 26) with 33 artificial reef structures, a bronze seal and a six-metre starfish next to the wreck of the Omeo.
The $300,000 project is aimed a creating a destination for divers as well as an educational facility, with Cockburn council teaming up with the WA Museum to install signs on the shore and in the water about the Omeo and marine creatures expected to take refuge there.
“Early days yet but the structures are expected to eventually offer a diverse range of habitats and protection for a range of plants and animals,” says Cockburn’s environment manager Chris Beaton.
“The University of WA has undertaken some monitoring and some of the structures are already developing new marine growth and a number of new fish species have been noted.”
Artist and zoologist Roger Swainston created the images for the trail’s signs, but warns that any change to the marine environment can quickly go wrong.
He points to the artificial reef at Leighton Beach which was installed to create a surf break. However, it changed the water flow and sand movements, smothering existing reefs and wiping out a colony of weedy sea dragons.
Despite the warning, he says artificial reefs can be successful if well planned.
The free launch of the trail will be held on the corner of Socrates and Napoleon Parades in North Coogee from 10am till 2pm. It will include diving, snorkelling, stilt walkers, face painting, monsterball soccer, market stands and live bands.
By KORO BROWN