A patch of coral reef in George Town harbor suffered damage from a cruise ship anchor Wednesday, sparking concern among scuba divers and environmentalists.
Despite video footage appearing to show live coral damaged by the ship’s anchor and chain, the Department of Environment said the ship had dropped anchor legally in a designated zone.
Tim Austin, Department of Environment deputy director, said there were patches of surviving coral within the anchorage zone assigned for cruise ships. He said the ship, the Zenith, had been guided to anchorage zone 4, the most southerly and least commonly used of the zones in George Town harbor designated for cruise ships.
“We have reviewed the video footage and while it is not good to look at, the truth is that this site has been previously impacted. It hasn’t been subjected to the same amount of damage as the other anchorage sites, which is why you see surviving coral colonies there.”
He said the anchorage zones that were frequently used by cruise ships had already been extensively damaged. He said the Department of Environment would continue to monitor the situation, but no laws or regulations were broken in the incident.
Concerned scuba diving instructors conducted an exploratory dive of the area close to the Don Foster’s and Eden Rock dive shops after noticing the ship appeared to be closer to shore than usual.
Their footage shows anchor chain lying across seemingly healthy reef as clouds of silt cover patches of rock and coral.