A Brief History of Shipwrecks in the Seychelles

Shipwreck | © Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock
Shipwreck | © Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock
Photo of Chantelle Howell
27 January 2017

Records of shipwrecks in the Seychelles did not begin until the late 18th century, once the islands became inhabited. It’s thought that more than 100 ships sunk there between 1550 and 1970. Dive in to discover more about the vessels taken by the waters of the Seychelles.

The wrecks that lie under the water form a huge part of Seychellois cultural history. Many lie undiscovered and others will be all but worn away. There have only been a few official recovery operations. No doubt there will have been countless artefacts taken by plunderers, but there must still be a treasure trove of relics waiting to be discovered.

Ennerdale Shipwreck, Mahe Seychelles | Courtesy of Big Blue Divers

The oldest shipwreck located in the Seychelles was L’heureux which sunk in 1763 off the notoriously dangerous south bank of the island of Providence – part of the Providence Atoll. The crew survived, but the rumoured 250,000 gold peso coins on board have never officially been discovered.

S.S Doh was chartered from the Comoros to send mail, and a considerable amount of cash to Seychelles. It sunk off of Alphonse in 1874, luckily remaining intact so as the valuable cargo could be recovered at the time.

Perhaps the most famous wreck is that of the Ennerdale, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker. It sunk in 1970 just 8 miles from Victoria after hitting uncharted rocks off the coast of Mamelle islet. With salvage not being possible and an oil leak already occurring, it was decided to destroy the wreck using explosives. Now in 3 pieces at around 30m (98ft) deep, the Ennerdale has become the most popular wreck dive site in Seychelles.

Wheelhouse of the Aldebaran shipwreck. | © image courtesy of Big Blue Divers

While there have been many tragic accidental shipwrecks here, there have also a few deliberate ones. These include the Aldebaran, which was a fishing vessel that was confiscated for illegal fishing. It was sunk in 2008 by the Seychelles Port Authority as part of the Festival of The Sea. The festival theme that year was ‘wrecks as ocean habitats’. The Aldebaran is now considered to be one of the most beautiful wreck dives in Seychelles. At 40m (131ft), advanced scuba divers are rewarded with a pristine shipwreck to explore.

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