Hidden in the depths of this world-famous wreck, there are plenty of treasures to uncover. Here are 10 to tick off, diving the Coolidge.
1. The Barber’s Chair.
In Cargo Hold Number 2 this unlikely underwater find is an eerie reminder of the wreck’s former day-to-day life above the waves. Still clearly recognisable as a barber’s chair, it sits in an alcove near the opening of the cargo hold.
2. Doctor’s Surgery.
The ship’s doctor had a large supply of medical supplies to treat the hundreds of sailors on board, and they’re still stacked neatly on the shelves of his surgery. There are bottles of all types of medicine, a syringe, a thermometer and a number of ampoules. Located on B Deck, the entrance is through Hold No. 5.
3. Nessie the giant moray eel.
Nessie has called the Coolidge home for as long as anyone can remember and has been fed by divers over the years. She’s one of the largest moray eels you’ll ever see, and can usually be found in one of two large winches near the bow.
4. Coral-encrusted guns.
You’ll see lots of discarded ammunition as you explore the ship, neatly stacked piles of heavy calibre shells, bullets and shells scattered at the bottom of the cargo holds and seafloor. On the ship’s hull as you hover over porthole windows, you’ll find a pile of rifles have been here so long they are covered in coating coral – you’ll be surprised how heavy they are if you lift one!
5. Gauges and controls in the Engine Control Room.
The engine room is about two-thirds of the way along the ship, accessed through a large hole cut in the hull years ago by salvagers. As your eyes adjust to the dark, the enormous motors hove into view and through small hatch on the left the control room has a large number of gauges still showing the levels of steam pressure when the ship sank!
6. Flashlight Fish.
Deep inside Cargo Hold No. 2, look into the dark corners and turn your torch off. Before long you’ll start seeing tiny flashes of light as the flashlight fish come into view. The fish have two bean-shaped torch-like organs under their eyes containing bioluminescent bacteria, which they can turn on and off by blinking. Check out this video by World Adventure Divers for an idea of what that’s like.
7. The toilet block.
Almost at the centre of the ship, you may find yourself swimming down a long corridor, with a row of toilets on the wall beside you – a rather strange angle to view a toilet seat and its probable that many divers have attempted to take a photo sitting on one!
8. Gas masks and Coke bottles.
Outside the ship on the hull, is an old petrol drum with a bunch of goodies inside. Old gas masks, a few tin mugs and 75-year old Coca-Cola bottles, a bit of fun to pose with for photos.
9. Anemone Garden.
On your last decompression stop at five metres, there’s a beautiful anemone garden, with anemone fish of all different sizes darting around anemones of all different coloured and shapes. Look closely for tiny little shrimps among the tendrils, and under the rocks and coral for larger mantis shrimps.
10. The Lady.
The Holy Grail of the Coolidge – The Lady is one treasure that every diver wants to see. The Lady is an old bas-relief of an Elizabethan ‘lady’ riding a horse with a long-flowing tail. She’s wearing red and gold dress with a wide white ruff framing her delicate features. It’s a long-held divers’ tradition to kiss the Lady, although some divers say the tradition is actually to kiss the horse that she’s riding on. The lady was once in the ship’s First Class Smoking Room, but after a fall, she was moved to the Dining Room some years ago to a safer position and fixed securely to a wall at the far end of the room. Before you kiss The Lady – spend a bit of time looking at her finely carved features – she really is a treasure.