EVER wanted to explore the waters at Portland Harbour? Here’s your chance.

The first phase of a new and exciting underwater curiosity park in Portland Harbour have been completed.

Over three years ago, representatives from Portland Port and Derek Luckhurst, the man behind the Castletown regeneration, first met to discuss an underwater curiosity park with the idea of creating a novel dive site in Portland Harbour that is resilient to poor weather conditions and, therefore, ideal for beginners and a haven for the more experienced divers in inclement weather. Finally, the plan has come to fruition with the placing of several curiosities on the seabed including two six ton Admiralty anchors, four statues (including a diver, a shark and two Greek statues) and several lengths of large concrete pipe to swim through.

Company Quest Marine have been dropping the artefacts in various stages, mostly randomly on the weekends when they have free time. The majority of the artefacts were placed in July and all artefacts are now down, subject to any further additions to the park.

They used a crane to drop the statues onto the boat, mostly two or three at a time. Each trip to the site and back to do a drop took nearly three hours.

In addition, following a number of enquiries from readers of Scuba magazine, there are now four large yellow dive site buoys in Balaclava Bay on the edge of Portland Harbour denoting the location of the Curiosity Park. To help further, a rope connecting the curiosities now enables divers to find their way in even the most low visibility conditions.

Spider crabs and other sea creatures have now started to find homes in and around the curiosities.

A particular favourite location is the armpit of the deep-sea diver statue. Only 50m away from the Underwater Curiosity Park is the Dredger wreck which is also a magnet to creatures of the deep, providing a full tank’s worth of entertainment.

Local dive master Jack Darley of the Old Harbour Dive Centre said: “Balaclava Bay will now become a ‘must tick off the list dive’ for divers and will also become a new haven for marine wildlife to grow. After only a few weeks of the statues being in place I have already noticed a massive increase in the amount of juvenile fish species taking shelter amongst the cylindrical swim throughs and a large amount of spider crabs making the sharks mouth and divers helmet their place of residence”.

With a host of other curiosities being put in place in due course, it is hoped that this free to use Curiosity Park is an attraction for scuba diving to come and safely dive, whatever the weather conditions. The all-round facilities and underwater attractions now make Castletown a first-class diving venue.

Mr Luckhurst said: “I anticipate this unique site will prove to be a national and, perhaps, even an international attraction to the scuba diving community.

“Balaclava Bay is a perfect location where tides and currents are minor and, due to the proximity of Portland which acts as a wind break, the park can be dived most of the time during the season.

“I propose to site a total of 25 artefacts in the park so I have just completed the first phase.

“There are a number of new artefacts in concept or in manufacture that will be an exciting addition and are likely to go down in September this year.”

The Underwater Curiosity Park is now open and for more information, people can visit castletown.org.uk