Off the coast of Mount Lavinia, in the seemingly innocent waters, lays a beauty forever lost to the currents of the ocean.
It is a wreck diving site called Thermopylae Sierra, 23 meters below the water's surface. The ship was a former Cypriot vessel that sank on August 23, 2012, after degrading from neglect.
Thermopylae Sierra is a wanderlust diving place in Colombo. When it starts from the beginning, it is impressive and adventurous. It consists of 23M depth, and the boat time to get to this location is around 20 minutes, with excellent weather conditions.
It is beautiful how the fish varieties live there in harmony. Some fish stay inside the parts of the shipwrecks while another bunch swims inside and out of the wrecks. Marine animals of all colors and beauty have already formed their home here. It surprises the divers how this almost recent wreck was transformed into this true beauty and how the colorful corals give a remarkable memory to our minds.
Thermopylae Sierra was lost in a monsoon off the coast of Sri Lanka, close to Colombo, in 2012. It was anchored in the Colombo outer anchorage for nearly three years, around 4 kilometers west of Mount Lavinia. On that monsoon day, we witnessed her slow death firsthand as ominous dark clouds formed in the sky and cumbersome monsoon swells washed over the sinking ship's deck.
The ocean has taken over in the past ten years, and much aquatic life has moved in—Barracuda, snappers, parrot fish, surgeon fish, octopus, and occasionally, a whale shark. Numerous marine animal species have made the 165-meter/540-foot-long ship their home throughout the year. And if you are lucky, you may even get to witness eagle rays swimming about the wreck in perfect harmony with the artificially created environment.
On the day that the rough waves of the Mount Lavinia ocean finally claimed this ship, we were floating a few hundred meters away from the massive crumbling wreckage. And within an hour's time, the whole ship was gone underwater, with only the bridge and the masts protruding from the water's surface like sore thumbs.
It was like we were watching a massive beast die as it gasped for air.
After the ship was lost to the cruel waves of the ocean, it was guraded by Sri Lankan Navy for a long time, marking it off limits to the public who were interested in diving there.
Today, almost after a decade, the ship has unexpectedly transformed into a haven for passionate scuba divers! Although the area to be covered of this ship is massive, 165 meters to be exact, a single tank dive can still cover the whole wreck due to the shallow depth of the impact. Fish are abundant, including shoals of Rainbow Runners and their enormous bait balls. And you may also witness darting Trevally occasionally taking potshots at these bait balls.
If you are lucky enough, you may even be able to catch sight of Eagle Rays, lazily scoring the area.
The bridge of the wrecked ship, suspension wires, numerous steel pipes, and masts protracted from the sea are all visible. At a depth of 23 meters, a tiny portion of the buried rudder can be seen; the propeller is not visible.
The unconditional beauty and the habitats for tiny sea creatures created by this impact hold a value that no one can measure. Although it is submerged in the water away from prying eyes, you will undoubtedly be surprised by the change that a decade can do once you dive down here.
We suspect this wreck will be deconstructed by the owning company to salvage what is left of her. After all, they still have to pay the dues they owe to the Sri Lankan Ports Authority. But the whole diving community and we sincerely hope that it would not be the fate of Thermopylae Sierra for a long time to come.