The Australian government has announced that it will be protecting the Japanese pearling ship Sanyo Maru which has been lying on the ocean floor off Northern Australia for the past 70 years. Environment and Heritage Minister Mark Butler said that it is important to protect the shipwreck because of its historical significance to both Australia and Japan.
The Sanyo Maru is the lone discovered wreck of a Japanese pearling mothership that has been found in Australian waters. Butler said that the ship will be enclosed in a 200-hectare protected zone because there is a certain lack of information about the pearl shell trade in the country and the wreck and the relics found within are the only significant historical discoveries related to the industry. It is a crucial part to Australia’s and Japan’s “shared maritime history.”
As the mothership to a fleet of pearling vessels, the Sanyo Maru provided food, fuel and fresh water for the rest of the ships. In July 1937, it sank to the bottom of the ocean bed because of a sudden unseasonal storm. It had 20 crew onboard plus a huge load of their harvested cargo. Two members of the crew perished – one of the pearl divers and the ship’s purser. The shipwreck is now sitting prettily at 27 meters deep and 60 kilometers off the Central Arnhem Land coast. Butler is amazed that it is still in a good condition despite the passage of time. He believes that it will give them insight into the pearl trade of the 1930s, including the operations, technology and even the everyday lives of the crews of vessels that were on the hunt for pearls.
[ via Authint Mail ]