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Underwater Caribbean Part II

HMS Rhone
One of the fastest ships of her time, the HMS Rhone met her match in a cataclysmic storm off Salt Island, British Virgin Islands, in 1867. Whereas the so-called “packet ship” once delivered mail across the Atlantic, she now receives legions of scuba divers, and even served as a filming location for the movie “The Deep”. Part of the appeal is that the HMS Rhone is still largely intact, and sits upright beneath the waves, 85 feet below the surface. The surrounding area is a protected national park teeming with marine life such as giant Grouper and octopus, but also scattered with eerie reminders of the ship’s fateful last day: giant wrenches and a 15-foot propeller lie on the sea bed near the hull.


Molinere Underwater Sculptures, Grenada
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan devastated Grenada, razing the land and destroying much of the delicate underwater coral beds with storm surge. At such times, the option is either to give up or bounce back. The Molinere Park off Flamingo Bay is a potent example of the latter strategy. Opened in 2006, the underwater park off the island’s west coast assembles cement figurines in various poses on the sandy ocean floor, gently caressed by the current. Scuba divers, snorkelers and passengers on glass bottom boat can enjoy 65 figures in no more than 40 feet of water, including the magnificent “Vicissitudes”, a circle of 26 children holding hands, The Lost Correspondent who sits alone at a desk, and a man riding a bicycle beneath the waves.

Kick ‘em Jenny
There is nothing placid or contemplative, however, about another landmark which sits off the coast of Grenada. Islanders talk about Kick ‘em Jenny , an underwater volcano five miles offshore, in “touch wood” tones. Rising some 4,000 feet from the ocean floor to just 590 feet beneath the surface, the active volcano has erupted 12 times since 1939 and has a 50 percent chance of erupting in the next 50 years. The scenario is not a pleasant one: any eruption from Kick ‘em Jenny could produce a devastating tsunami across the region. The volcano, which sits on a turbulent zone where the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic plates collide, last erupted in 2001.

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