Brockville dive park grows again


SOS Thousand Islands added six new sculptures to its already impressive Centeen sculpture park on a warm and sunny Saturday.
The six new structures bring the total to 41 in the underwater park.
Four eels, half a mannequin and one bottle tree were added via crane to the riverbed.
On why eels, SOS Thousand Islands chapter chairman Tom Scott said it was to honour a dying animal in the St. Lawrence River.
“The St. Lawrence River Institute out of Cornwall has said the eel population in the river has had a drastic decline in the last 25 years,” Scott said. “At one time, eels accounted for 55 per cent of the biomass in the St. Lawrence River. It counts for less than one per cent now.”
The non-eel sculpture placed in the water was the lower half of a mannequin, positioned upside-down with flippers on the feet. Scott said an anchor will be placed onto the mannequin to create the appearance of a diver being stuck with flippers sticking out of the mud.
“I have a bet with the rest of the folks in the chapter that that will be the most photographed sculpture this year,” said Scott.
Old bottles found in the river will be placed on the bottle tree with a “take one, leave one” policy for collectors. 
Incorporated in 1981, S.O.S. is a provincewide non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the province’s underwater maritime heritage.
The Thousand Islands chapter, founded in 1995, is currently the province’s largest in membership, at 46 people, and also looks after the highest number of shipwrecks of any S.O.S. chapter, said Scott.
The SOS Thousand Islands chapter is an organization that offers diving lessons and certifications.
“We had a choice to either shut down and really limit the amount of diving activity around shipswrecks or try to come up with a creative idea to help with and develop the skills with novice divers,” said Scott.
Among the other activities the chapter did Saturday was a cleanup along the riverbed between Centeen Park and the Brockville Rowing Club and an unveiling of a plaque on one of two nine-foot stone slabs that were donated by Permanent Concrete.
The plaque on one of the slabs will be for the Dave Cooper Memorial Stairs, as the Dave Cooper memorial fund provided the money for the second set of stairs for divers entering and exiting the river.
The second stone slab will soon feature a brass map detailing all the sculptures in the underwater park for non-divers to look at as they pass by.

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