The Kodiak Queen, formerly U.S. Navy barge YO-44, is becoming a new BVI dive site. Sponsoring the endeavor is Project YoKo BVI Art Reef, a collaboration between Sir Richard Branson and other BVI stakeholders. The Kodiak Queen is being sunk off the coast of Virgin Gorda in March. Uniquely, the ship will be wrapped in a giant kraken sculpture, made of rebar and mesh.
The Kodiak Queen launched in 1940 as U.S. Navy fuel barge YO-44, and is one of only five ships that survived the Pearl Harbor attack. As the Kodiak Queen, the ship began a new life as a fishing boat. Historian Mike Cochran found the ship rusting in a Road Town junkyard in 2012. He set up a website in an effort to rescue the ship, and got some famous attention. Owen Buggy, a friend of and photographer for Sir Richard Branson, saw the site and suggested the ship as an artificial reef. The project soon began
The Kodiak Queen will be a platform for coral restoration, featuring coral planting on its art sculptures. There will be a coral garden on deck and an “eDNA” research area to monitor the impact of artificial reefs. Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is an inexpensive and non-invasive way to collect DNA and monitor marine species. Scientists will use the information to monitor the area’s repopulation of large predators, including sharks and the now-rare goliath grouper.
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