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.