Three Anchors

by Scott Settle-Chesser

Large WWII Navy Anchor

Off the coast of South Maui lies a hidden treasure of a site: the Three Anchors dive. Located in 65 feet of water there is ample bottom time to explore and appreciate the diversity of Hawaiian marine life that has come to call these anchors home. The history behind the site is quite interesting. Word has it that the anchors were used as a degaussing station for large Naval cruisers during WWII. This was done in order to decrease the electrical pull the ships had to magnetic floating mines that were strewn throughout the Pacific Ocean. The layout of the site is fairly simple. Three large anchors are moored with heavy chains to a central cement block of unusually large size. They lay in the sand in a triangular position. A fourth chain comes off the central block and is connected to a second smaller block that was the mooring buoy for the vessels. Being the only objects around with any mass, the chains offer marine life an oasis in a proverbial desert. The site is surrounded by sand and Halimeda sp. sea grass that provides yet another habitat for the more resourceful animals to find refuge.

The diversity of species in this small area can be astounding. On the average dive, species from most groups of fish and invertebrates can be found here. Gorgeous deep red and yellow Angler (Frog Fish,) Wrasses, Butterflyfish, Chromis, Angelfish, Goatfish, Flounder, Eels, Triggerfish, Hawaiian Lionfish, Leaf Scorpionfish and many others to name a few.

The invertebrate life is just as diverse offering great opportunities for macro photography. Numerous species of Auger shells, Nudibranchs, Swimming crabs, Guard crabs, Jeweled Hermit crabs, Shrimp and Polycheate worms inhabit the nooks and crannies of every surface. There is also some impressive growths of various coral species on and around the anchors. Most notable is a perfectly formed giant antler-coral head that provides a beautiful home for many uncommon fish and invertebrate species. One of the most popular residents of the anchors is a Day Octopus whom through stealthy evasion of predators has grown to a healthy size earning him respect from all of his neighbors. Despite his size he still uses his skills of camouflage to make it quite difficult to pick him out of the background.

With all this site has to offer, there is something for everyone. It is one of our favorites and when the conditions are right and divers are looking for something off the beaten track, this site is one we definitely check out!

by Scot Settle-Chesser
Scot Settle
Photos © Ed Robinson