A group of professional divers removed the fishing gear that was covering a British World War II submarine which is laying at a depth of 52 meters in the area between the islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea.
The wreck of the HMS Perseus was reached by six specifically trained volunteer technical divers from a group called the Ghost Diving charity, who have long been allured by the mystery and historical value of the wreck.
By removing the fishing gear that was covering the submarine, they hope to protect the marine inhabitants of this bio diverse area, such as the loggerhead sea turtles, dolphins and monk seals. It is estimated that millions of animals die each year by getting trapped in lost fishing gear.
The HMS Perseus wreck has a fascinating story about its lone survivor, a British Navy stoker by the name of John Capes who escaped from the submarine’s hatch after it hit an Italian mine in 1941.
He survived not only the journey to the surface, but also the five-mile (8 km) swim to the island of Kefalonia during the night, where he was hidden by islanders for 18 months before being smuggled in a caïque to Smyrna, Turkey.
Capes was subsequently awarded a British Empire Medal. The HMS Perseus is one of the largest submarines to patrol the seas in World War II and it has been designated a cultural heritage site.
The operation to clear the nets lasted five days, also targeting other wrecks in the area at a depth of 50m, and recovering a total of 500 kg (1,102 pounds) of lost fishing gear.
The event was organized by the group Healthy Seas. Besides the sea cleanups, it also included a public awareness happening in the capital of Kefalonia with the participation of local groups and artists, to highlight the importance of the marine and coastal Natura 2000 sites around the island and raise awareness about marine pollution and ghost nets.