Major Cruise Line sets anchor and damages Ancient Reef!

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Photo Credit:

We here at ReefNation, obviously have a passion for our reefs, especially an ancient reef such as this one. To see the damage done to this reef due to carelessness of this ship.. Really bothers me. To find out that it was a major cruise line that was the culprit, only further upset me. This video was shot by Scott Prodahl, a youtuber who has a passion for reefs as much as we do.

This video was made off the Cayman Islands western shore, and in the video, you will witness a large portion of the reef being destroyed. The ship that caused this damage was a Spanish cruise ship, named Pullmantur Zenith, which happens to be owned by American Royal Caribbean Cruises. The spokesperson claims that this is an unprotected area and anchorage is allowed by the government.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

The Global Corporate Communications Director, Cynthia Martinez made this statement in regards to the incident, “This a very unfortunate situation and we will work closely with Grand Cayman authorities to ensure this does not happen again, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. understands the importance of protecting the marine environment and sustaining the well-being of the places we visit.  Protecting the health and welfare of our oceans is always foremost in our minds.”

Cayman Islands’ Department of Environment deputy director said that this area in the video was “seldom used” for any ships to anchor. Because of that there were parts of coral reefs that they did not know about. “Although this reef was in a distressed state prior to the anchoring, we view any loss of any coral reef as highly regrettable in this age when coral reefs worldwide are in decline,” he stated. He had also went on to say they would do their best to prevent further accidents like this one to this beautiful ancient reef. 

The problem that I see with most of the statements made is that the whole west side of the Cayman Islands has been labeled as a marine park. What this means is that it is illegal to anchor in most situations. More so for boats larger than 60 feet and in an area that is not sandy. The website for the department even stresses that it is an offense to carve, injure, cut, displace, break, or even mutilate any underwater corals, or other formations without a license.  “Many, if not most, corals grow at a rate of less than half-an-inch a year; so if the underwater beauty which has taken centuries to develop is to remain for the future enjoyment of everyone, residents and visitors must act responsibly,” the department site states. The islands’ Marine Conservation Laws, seen on the islands’ tourism website, also state that, “Damaging coral by anchor, chains or any other means ANYWHERE in Cayman waters is prohibited.”

The issue was that this cruise liner was also not far from a port, one that only had 4 ships docked. Why couldn’t this liner just go ahead and dock in the appropriate place? I guess we won’t know the information on that. However, I would like to use this incident as a lesson for boaters and any ocean lover. We need to be sure that people are aware of where they are letting their anchors down.

This ancient coral took decades to create, as most corals grow at a rate of less than half an inch a year, and in a mere minutes.. this beauty was destroyed devastatingly. I hope that those of you reading this take this to heart and share this with other boaters and those that may make the same mistake unknowingly. Let us all work together to save our reefs. Not only that, but to protect the ancient reefs like this one.




Watch this disturbing video here and help others become aware of the problem that anchors can create for reefs!