Worse than bad finning technique? The impact of a cruise ship grounding on a coral reef.

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Cruise ship that run aground on a coral reef near Bermuda

R/V Stommel - one of BIOS vesselsR/V Stommel that belongs to BIOS

I have travelled around the world and seen varios coral reef ecosystems. Most of them not in their best state, showing signs of destructive fishing methods, temperature induced bleeching events and loss of biodiversity.

This time I had a chance to conduct a post impact survey in Bermuda. On May 19th 2015 a cruise ship called ‘Norwegian Dawn’ run aground on a Bermudian reef due to a temporary loss of power. It left a 60m long scar and excavated lots of sediment and rubble. Although a tragic event in itself, it gave us an opportunity to see a cross-section of a coral reef.  It takes thousands of years for a reef to form and just a moment to destroy it.

But despite the obvious impact in the actual scar and the incredible amount of rubble and dead coral left, the scale of the impact seemed surprisingly small.

The reef I saw around Bermuda were actually one of the healthiest reefs I have ever visited! It is probably due to the combination of low temperatures (Bermudian reefs are some of the northern-most reef ecosystem in the world – the 1st place goes this time to Japan) and lack of distructive fishing methods. So although there are only around 20 species of corals in Bermuda, they seem to be doing quite well!

So what happens to the company that owned the cruise ship? Well, nothing really, they have not been fined yet. But it is to soon to say what will follow.

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The 60m long scar on a reef, left by a vessel that run aground

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Preparing for the survey

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Daving showing off his free-diving skills

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Still such a healthy reef!

DRAPELLA ZOFIA POSTER FINAL.pdf - Adobe Reader 15062015 050827

About Zofia Drapella

I always seek adventures, but want them to be meaningful (usually related to science, marine biology, teaching). I so often find myself in the most amazing circumstances and incredible places with inspiring people. I genuinely consider myself to be the luckiest person in the world... I love nature, oceans, mountains, jungles. I try my best to capture what I have the privilege to see/experience and share it with others.
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