July 9, 2020

Outrage after Zenith cruise ship’s anchor ‘completely destroyed’ a portion of coral reef in the Cayman Islands

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2F3C64F400000578-3354133-image-a-11_1449747147535By Chris Kitching For Mailonline
A diver’s footage shows the anchor and its chain draped over the reef
As it moves back and forth, the chain breaks off coral and kicks up dust
Officials said they did not find any negligence on the part of the crew
Environment bosses said the cruise ship anchored in the appropriate zone
Underwater video shot by a diver reveals the moment a cruise ship’s anchor caused ‘significant’ damage to a portion of coral reef in the Caribbean.
Cayman Islands officials launched an investigation after Scott Prodahl’s footage on YouTube showed the anchor and its chain draped across the reef – breaking off pieces of coral and kicking up dust.
Despite the destruction and the anguish of locals, the country’s environment bosses told local media there was no wrongdoing by the Zenith cruise ships crew and they did not violate any rules when they dropped anchor in George Town’s harbour on Tuesday.
Zenith, a 12-deck vessel that can carry more than 1,800 passengers and 600 crew, is owned by Madrid-based Pullmantur Cruises, a division of Royal Caribbean International.
Prodahl, an instructor with Foster’s Dive, called it ‘another sad day for the reefs’ of Grand Cayman, the largest of islands in the British Overseas Territory, and urged greater protection.
He wrote on YouTube that he decided to have a look after noticing the Zenith was anchored ‘oddly close’ to the reef.
He added: ‘A massive portion of the reef … was completely destroyed today. The Department of Environment was contacted but nothing could be done because this was a designated anchorage zone and they were given permission to drop anchor.
‘In the previous several decades this pristine portion of the reef was never needed as an anchorage location but for some reason today, when there was only four ships in port, it was deemed necessary.’
Tourism is a big money-earner in the Cayman Islands, and Prodahl criticised the decision to allow cruise ships to anchor near the reef, essentially sacrificing coral.

He wrote: ‘As part of the marine park, we are not allowed to fish here, not allowed to hunt lobsters, you can’t even pick up an empty shell, all in the name of conservation?
‘But for some reason you can drop an anchor and wipe out a reef that took thousands of years to grow.
‘This video was shot roughly an hour after the anchor was dropped, I can’t imagine what it looks like now.’
He later told Cayman 27 the damage was extensive, adding: ‘It’s a lot bigger than what you see in the video. In the video you only see a very small portion of that chain tumbling nut in reality it’s the entire length of it tumbling and scouring across the reef.’
Scott Slaybaugh, deputy director of operations and enforcement with the Department of Environment, told the Cayman Reporter ‘there was no sign of negligence’ by Zenith’s crew, although it appeared the reef suffered ‘significant’ damage.
He added: ‘While the northern anchorages have been long devoid of coral through years of anchoring, the southern anchorage is not often used so some remnants of coral reef remain.’
Environment Minister Wayne Panton told the newspaper he was advised that Zenith was anchored within the appropriate zone.
MailOnline has contacted Pullmantur Cruises and Royal Caribbean International for comment.
According to the Cayman Reporter, the Carnival Magic cruise ship destroyed 16,000 square feet of reef in 2014, and an investigation found the incident occurred outside the designated zone.
The company was not charged, and last March it pledged a $100,000 donation towards reef restoration efforts.
IMAGES:
Scott Prodahl and other divers inspected the anchor after they noticed the ship was ‘oddly close’ to the reef
Prodahl’s footage shows the anchor’s chain moving back and forth, breaking off pieces of the reef
In his footage uploaded to YouTube, Prodahl, a dive instructor, holds up a piece of broken coral
The Zenith cruise ship, pictured last June in Greece, is owned by Madrid-based Pullmantur Cruises
Prodahl claimed a massive portion of the reef was ‘completely destroyed by the vessel’s anchor
Prodahl called it ‘another sad day for the reefs’ of Grand Cayman and urged greater protection
Cayman Islands environment bosses said the cruise ship was anchored in the designated zone
Despite the damage, investigators said they found no negligence on the part of the Zenith’s crew
For more on this story and video go to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3354133/Zenith-cruise-ship-anchor-damages-coral-reef-Cayman-Islands.html#ixzz3tw1MPW00

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