via Focus Cambodia, 01 November 2023: Cambodia’s burgeoning interest in marine environments and diving is highlighted by the discovery of shipwrecks, which serve as both historical artifacts and thriving habitats for marine life. The article discusses recent finds, such as a 15th-century Chinese trading ship and a Japanese merchant ship sunk during WWII, which now contribute to reef ecosystems. It also touches on the potential for an underwater war museum and emphasizes the importance of marine conservation and the development of dive tourism, alongside the growing local interest in SCUBA diving. The article is heavily tourism oriented and it doesn’t mention that Cambodia is signatory to the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, and it is unclear how the appropriate authorities are working to preserve this wrecks.
In 2006, a crew of Vietnamese fishermen discovered the wreckage of a 15th-century Chinese trading ship laden with ancient pottery and other artifacts near Koh Sdach, off the coast of Koh Kong. Twelve years later, Cambodian navy divers discovered a 70-metre-long shipwreck about a mile from Koh Chhlam, also near Koh Kong. It was covered in coral, providing a rich habitat for fish and other marine life.
The wreck of the Burma Maru, a steam-powered Japanese merchant ship, was found in February 2017 by a six-member team from The Dive Shop Cambodia, led by managing director Dennis Funke. The ship, 117 metres long, was sunk on 12 June 1942 by the American submarine USS Swordfish, about 110km from Koh Rong island. It required a deep-water dive to a depth of 52 to 67 metres, Funke said.