From passenger ship in the 19th century to ecosystem "instagrams": the history of the SS City of Adelaide

I don’t know about you, but I love that phrase of “life makes its way”, even if it is to refer to some fungi that have taken advantage of some of our abandoned invasions. In fact, it is more or less what has happened to the Adelaide city, but not with a few fungi, but with an entire ecosystem.

The SS City of Adelaide (City of Adelaide) was a steamboat built in the 19th century and which left Glasgow (Scotland) in 1893. A vessel with ambitious purpose, given that at that time long voyages such as it was from that point to Australia or Hawaii could go very wrong (Let them tell the Titanic, which left years later and to get closer), and that it did not have a good ending. Even if nature had an epilogue prepared that it has turned out beautiful.

A life full of calamities

The SS City of Adelaide left on December 22, 1863 to be a passenger transport ship between Glasgow and Melbourne, Sydney, Honolulu and San Francisco. With some stoppages and changes of companies, the ship operated for about 50 years, ending up as a coal warehouse.

Coal was a very important fuel at the time and the bad habit of fuels is that by definition they burn. The City of Adelaide caught fire in 1912 and it took days to turn it off, although they have not yet given it up for lost.

Ss City Of Adelaide 1864 The SS City of Adelaide in 1864.

Not immediately, but three years later, someone thought that the City of Adelaide still had life left to fish, albeit stopped. George Butler, son of the first European resident of Magnetic Island, northeast of Australia, bought it with the intention of using it as a breakwater for a jetty in Picnic Bay, but the ship was towed to that point ran aground at Cockle Bay, the bay just before Picnic Bay.

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The 100,000-ton ship that sank while seeking mobile phone coverage

Although a priori the area was less problematic than that of the Suez Canal (nor was it a ship as big as a current freighter), the ship stranded, without boilers or motor (which they removed to make it a warehouse) still deteriorating and no longer used, it turned out to be a risk during some bomber training in World War II (in 1942), due to a mast knocking down a bomber causing four casualties. And the final touch came with Cyclone Althea, which in 1971 caused the collapse of part of the steel hull, although in reality that was the finishing touch for the City of Adelaide to be what it is today: an artificial island full of life. (and not a bit against life).

A death full of life

They say on the Townsville tourism website, just off the coast where the City of Adelaide is located, that the ship is a instagrams pro and that the likes they do not stop climbing. In fact, we can find photos as beautiful as this one on the net:

Over the years, the remains of the ship’s hull have provided the perfect structure for them to have formed a mangrove forest. In fact, according to locals (yes, there is a Reddit on it) who have the boat in view, the mangrove began to grow about 20 years ago, which is relatively new.

Initially, the dimensions of the ship were about 76.44 meters in length and 8.63 meters in width. That is more or less the area that now occupies the small forest, whose growth has been favored because the remains favor the sediment of materials and, in turn, a respite from the less favorable conditions for the growth of higher vegetables.

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In fact, being located in a marine natural park, it is a protected area and the small ecosystem is not disturbed by activities such as fishing. Hence, there is not much boat nearby, although the stalking of tourists is inevitable, especially when the tide goes out and it is more accessible.

Seagulls and some other sea birds are seen in the visitors’ photographs. According the most common species in Australian mangroves, captured in this report by an Australian government organization, the trees that are most seen could be Avicennia marina, characterized by having a specialized root system (pneumatophores) to take in air.

This report also talks about the ecological importance of mangroves of Australia (although more focused on those of the south), highlighting that they are normally associated with marshes and that, as we have commented, they favor sedimentation and thus reduce erosion (which is what has been favored in recent years by the area del Delta del Ebro and hence its reduction). These sediments, in addition, are a source of nutrients for cyanobacteria, which have a very important role in fixing nitrogen and other elements that enrich a soil, such as carbon that other bacteria can use, and in the end many associate more species (crustaceans, foraminifera, birds, fish, etc.).

Of course, we do not do any good with everything that we leave behind, and the sea is a great witness to this. But at least we see that nature is powerful enough to grow in this striking way where at the time there was a great environmental impact, and now, where there were engines and coal, there is vegetation and a lot of marine life.

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Image | Investigator 563

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