Blue Ocean has written numerous articles on the beauty of the Coral Triangle, (often referred to as the epicenter of Marine Bio-diversity) and the reefs around Indonesia’s Raja Ampat in particular. Many of the spectacular photographs on our website were captured in Raja Ampat by our allied underwater photographers. See the gallery of Burt Jones and Maureen Shimlock. (photo – Burt Jones-Maureen Shimlock)
The Caledonia Sky Grounded in National Marine Park
In spite of having GPS and radar the ship grounded on the reef at low tide destroying (by one estimate) approximately 13,500 square meters of coral. To make a bad situation worse, instead of waiting for high tide to refloat the ship, a tugboat was used to extricate the liner causing even more damage to the reef.
An Area of Uncharted Shoals and Currents
The Caledonian Sky grounded close to Kri Island in the Dampier Strait. An area infamous for uncharted shoals and extreme tidal forces. Conservation International stated that “this is a very, very big loss for us” and added that this ship should never have entered into this area due to its unique coral reef habitat.
An Unfortunate Incident
British-based Noble Caledonia, the company that operates the Caledonian Sky issued a statement describing the cruise ship damage as “unfortunate”. Adding “it is imperative that the reasons for it are fully investigated, understood and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures’.
Breaking News Update: The Indonesian Government seeks justice after the Caledonian Sky does “irreparable damage to the world’s richest coral reef”. Conservation International’s initial estimate is that 14,000 square meters of pristine coral reef was destroyed when the cruise liner ran aground on March 4th. “Worse, the coral reef damaged by the Caledonian Sky was located right in the heart of Raja Ampat, the center of marine biodiversity” said the Indonesian ministry spokesperson.
The Indonesians have formed a task force to investigate the incident and the actions of the cruise liner’s captain. An Indonesian law passed in 2009 states that “damaging natural resources such as coral reefs is an offence that carries the possibility of imprisonment.” The Transportation Ministry will determine if the ship’s captain had permission to enter the shallow waters of the Dampier Strait. According to the Jakarta Post the ship was not using local marine guides at the time of the grounding. (photo – Ratha Grimes/Creative Commons)
Dr Mark Erdmann, the vice president of Conservation International’s Asia-Pacific Marine Programs and a coral reef ecologist, said it would take several hundred years before the coral reef can return to its former state. You can read Mark Erdmann’s Blue Ocean Summit post here.
Local communities Outraged by Cruise ship Damage
The local tourism community is outraged by the cruise ship damage because their economic livelihood depends on the world famous diving in the Marine Park. A report from Conservation International in 2002 stated that Raja Ampat was home to over 600 species of coral and 1,400 varieties of fish.
“To add insult to injury, the local communities derive no benefit at all from visits of ships like these” a local stated. Echoing a common complaint voiced by local communities, worldwide, regarding the mixed blessings of cruise ships. To find out more about this very unfortunate incident read: The Daily Mail and Channel News Asia.
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!
See our Blue ocean posts on the Coral Triangle and Raja Ampat: