Tentative List

The number of underwater sites inscribed on the World Heritage List is derisory when compared to the number of sites on land. However, the level of protection of underwater heritage could be raised in the years to come, thanks to the awareness raised by the adoption of the 2001 Convention. Several submerged sites have been proposed for inscription and could be soon inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

-          The Carvings from historic time at the island of Gaddtarmen (Finland) – submitted in 1990

The island of Gaddtarmen forms a natural harbour on a much frequented sailing route. On the rocks of the island, sailors awaiting favourable winds have made more than 400 carvings, the oldest dating back from the 15th century. Three shipwrecks have been discovered in the immediate vicinity of the island. They provide valuable information on the role of Gaddtarmen as a cultural and trading centre.

The rock drawing site, a sort of “guest book” for this part of the coasts of Finland, and its surrounding underwater cultural heritage give an insight on this ancient sailing route.


-          Kekova (Turkey) – submitted in 2000

The little Turk island Kekova gave its name its surrounding region, an area covering 260 km². The region encompasses great Lycian cities such as Simena, Theimussa ou Aperlai. On the north side of the island the remains of the ancient city of Apollonia can be found. The city was partially submerged after an earthquake in the 2nd century A.D.


-          Alexandria, ancient remains and the new library (Egypt) – submitted in 2003

There is almost nothing left of the ancient city of Alexandria, bearing witness to the rich exchanges between civilisational and cultural exchanges between Egypt and the rest of the Mediterranean : the lighthouse, the harbour, the Ptolemaic palaces, all are gone. However, recent research uncovered numerous underwater remains, which could provide highlight on such a cultural and civilisational crossroads.


-          Red Bay (Canada) – submitted in 2004

Red Bay comprises the largest known 16th-century Basque whaling station in North America. The assemblage of submerged and terrestrial archaeological sites represents a thoroughly documented early example of economic exploitation of rich North American natural resource. Submerged cultural resources found in the harbour include exceptionally well-preserved remains of a number of vessels that illustrate northern Iberian ship- and boat-building technology and whaling activity of the 16th century.


-          Banco Chinchorro reserve (Mexico) – submitted in 2004

The Banco Chinchorro reserve stretches over 1.5 km², with only 0.4% of dry lands. The reef area encompasses not only a prosperous fauna and flora (more than 778 species have been recorded), but also a rich underwater cultural heritage. No less than 44 shipwrecked lie in the area. Banco Chinchorro is one of the the largest ship cemetery into which cultural and natural elements form an inseparable group.


-          The SS President Coolidge shipwreck (Vanuatu) – submitted in 2004

The shipwreck is currently known as the largest most accessible wreck dive in the world. It is particularly interesting as it contains a unique combination of features belonging to its dual function as a luxury passenger liner and a military vessel during World War II.


-          Insular area and bay of Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay) – submitted in 2005

The Bay and the Islands of Colonia del Sacramento comprise some of the richest aspects of South America’s maritime history. The area forms a singular example of the daily colonial life carried out in the sea and on land in this Portuguese colony. Several shipwrecks that the bay holds contribute to document the historical evolution of this area whose activity dramatically increased after the signature of the Tordecillas Treaty.


-          Bradyseism in the Flegrea Area (Italy) – submitted in 2006

Located in the South part of the caldera formed by the Campi Flegrei, along the inner western area of the bay of Naples, the area encompasses the ancient city of Baia and Gaiola Islet. The Flegrea area bears witness in historical times of the long lasting volcanic phenomenon of bradyseism. Due to this generalized subsidence of the Earth surface, the coast line has changed a lot, causing medieval and roman remains to lie underwater. This underwater cultural heritage represents in a way a “measuring instrument” of the natural phenomenon of bradyseism.


-          Baiheliang Ancient Hydrological Inscription (China) – submitted in 2008

The archaeological site Baiheliang – literally White Crane Ridge – comprises some of the oldest hydrological inscription. Located in the centre of China, the site is submerged under the water all year round since the accomplishment of the Three Gorges Dam. The Baiheliang Underwater Museum allows access to these inscriptions providing valuable information on the variations of the Yangtze River.



-          The Underwater City of Port Royal (Jamaica) – submitted in 2009

Seat of the British government in Jamaica and biggest trading and fishing harbour of the island, Port Royal was a centre for piracy and contraband in the 16th century. At the height of its glittering wealth, Port Royal was entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1692. Contrary to many archaeological sites, Port Royal is not the result of a long lasting process of construction: after just 37 years of existence, the bustling city of Port Royal sank into the sea, remaining perfectly preserved as it was on the day of the earthquake.


-          Pearling and its cultural landscapes in Bahrain (Bahrain) – submitted in 2008

The site, combining coastal areas and facilities, shows the influence of the oyster and pearl industry on the landscapes of Bahrain. Harbour facilities, oyster beds, merchant residences, trading places, highlight the social, cultural and economic system of pearling.