Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit

Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit (UCHU)

Malta's incredibly rich and multi-variegated historical past is mirrored in the diversity of its underwater heritage. A subaquatic museum waiting to be discovered. Systematic undersea archaeological surveys off the coast of the Maltese Islands have revealed a plethora of underwater archaeological sites. These range from a 2,700 year-old Phoenician Shipwreck, Roman and Early Modern Shipwrecks to dozens of aircraft crash sites, submarines, and battleships from the First and Second World Wars.

This underwater cultural heritage legacy has made Malta the curator for a uniquely well-preserved cultural resource that is global and belongs to all humankind.

The recognition of responsibility towards properly managing and protecting Malta’s underwater cultural heritage resulted in the decision to create the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit (UCHU) within Heritage Malta. The main objectives of the UCHU are the identification and documentation of sites, the valorisation of sites, site protection, as well as public access management and public outreach. The UCHU aims to continue opening sites for public access, ensuring that the authenticity and integrity of Malta’s UCH is protected, in keeping with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

 uchu@heritagemalta.org

 

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Best Practices
Instructions for divers:
  • Obey legal protection of archaeological sites
  • Do not penetrate the wreck, observe from the outside
  • Look but don’t touch
  • Avoid touching and disturbing any marine flora or fauna
  • Ensure that all diving equipment — such as gauges and regulators — are secured firmly and not dragging
  • Be aware of your fins
  • Exercise proper buoyancy control
  • Avoid contact with the wreck when taking photographs or videos
  • Stay safe
Instructions for dive leaders:
  • Respect measures that protect sites
  • Do not tie marker buoys or access lines directly to the wreck site
  • Keep diving groups small
  • Follow up and observe the group at any time throughout the dive
  • Be a role model
  • Strictly respect the rules of no contact and no wreck penetration
  • Stay safe
Instructions for boat skippers:
  • Do not anchor on shipwrecks
  • Use moorings wherever possible
  • Locate the wreck using a depth sounder, if it’s unmarked
  • Drop the anchor upwind, or up-current, of the wreck site and lay back on the anchor line until the boat is over the wreck
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