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Jumbo Jet Lies on Seafloor Awaiting Divers, Coral Critters

Built to carry passengers through the skies, a jumbo jet now lies under the surface of the Aegean Sea — purposefully sunk to attract tourists in a new way.

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In hopes of drawing more diving tourists to the area, Turkish officials sank an Airbus A300 jet off the Aegean coast to create an artificial reef. The massive jet — 177 feet (54 meters) long, with a wingspan of 144 feet (44 m) — will act as a foundation for corals to attach to and other sea creatures to live in, creating an artificial reef.

Artificial reefs are popular with divers, and help divert people from the natural (and very delicate) reefs. Warmer oceans, more acidic waters, pollution, human interference and other threats are posing danger to coral reefs across the globe, scientists say. [12 Outstanding Artificial Reefs to Visit]

Tourism in Turkey is expected to suffer this year, after several deadly terrorist attacks, Reuters reported. Sinking the plane was both an effort to protect ocean life and to turn the area into a year-round destination for tourists who dive, Özlem Çerçioğlu, mayor of the local Aydin province, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"With these goals in mind, we have witnessed one of the biggest wrecks in the world," Çerçioğlu said.

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Hundreds gathered to watch the jumbo jet be lowered to the seabed, "cheering and blasting their foghorns" from their boats as the plane found its final resting place, AFP reported.

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Taking two and a half hours to be submerged, the Airbus A300 "wreck" is considered the largest plane sunk voluntarily to become an artificial reef, according to AFP. In recent years, three smaller planes have been sunk off Turkish beach resorts, the Daily Sabah reported.

A local government agency bought the 36-year-old craft for the sinking, according to news reports.

Original article on Live Science.

Kacey Deamer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.