Rhone National Marine Park, Tortola, British Virgin Islands | CruiseBe
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Rhone National Marine Park

diving, underwater, nature, shipwreck

RMS Rhone shipwreck is a popular dive site, and the area around her was turned into a national park in 1980.

Rhone has received many citations and awards over the years as one of the top recreational wreck dives in the Caribbean, both for its historical interest and teeming marine life and also because of the open and relatively safe nature of the wreckage. Very little of the wreckage is still enclosed, and where overhead environments do exist, they are large and roomy and have openings at either end permitting a swim through, so there is no real penetration diving for which divers usually undergo advanced training.

Her bow section is still relatively intact, and although the wooden decks have rotted away, she still provides an excellent swim-through for divers. Her entire iron hull is encrusted with coral and overrun by fishes (and the local barracuda named Fang), and the cracks and crevices of her wreckage provide excellent habitats for lobsters, eels, and octopuses. Her wreckage was also featured in the 1977 filming of The Deep, including a scene of Jacqueline Bisset diving in a T-shirt.

The wreck has been well treated over the years. There used to be a full set of wrenches (spanners), still visible on the deep part (each wrench being about 4 feet (1.2 m) long and weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg)). In recent decades the largest of these were stolen by a collector, leaving only the smaller wrenches. Also remaining are a few brass portholes and even a silver teaspoon. The remaining wrenches are under 55 feet (17 m) of water. Similarly the wreck features the "lucky porthole," a brass porthole in the stern section which survived the storm intact and remains shiny by divers rubbing it for good luck. This porthole is considered "lucky" because the glass still survives. For many years a popular resident of the wreck was a 500-pound (230 kg) Goliath grouper also known as a Jew fish, but two ex-pat fishermen with spear guns killed it despite spear guns being illegal for non-nationals and the area being a national park. Today the wreck is visited by hundreds of tourists every day, most of whom are more circumspect in their treatment of the site.

The wreck's maximum depth is 85 feet (26 m) of water.

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