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Bringing a Reef to Grief

British Own Expedition Ship Causes Severe Damage to Raja Ampat Reef in Eastern Indonesia


Bali News: Noble Caledonia. Caledonia Sky, Captain Keith Michel Tylor, Raja Empat, Safety, Ricardo Tapilatu, Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources, University of Papua
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(3/17/2017)

The Guardian Environmental Network reports that one of the main reef at the world-renowned Indonesian coral reef at Raja Ampat suffered extreme damage with the Bahamian-flagged British-owned cruise vessel MV Caledonia Sky ran aground on March 4, 2017.

The vessel was under the command of its American Captain, Keith Michel Tylor.

The 90-meter vessel owned by Nobke Caledonia (UK) was operating in a low tide when it hit a reef near Waigeo Island.

The vessel was not holed in the incident that Noble Caledonia termed as “unfortunate” but damage to the sensitive ecosystem of the reef was describe by local environmentalists and marine experts as extensive.

Ricardo Tapilatu of the Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources from the University of Papua, who joined the evaluation team, said the ship ran aground in low tide despite being equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and radar systems. “A tugboat from Sorong city was deployed to help refloat the cruise ship, which is something that shouldn’t have happened because it damaged the reef even worse,” Tapilatu said. “They should’ve waited for high tide” to refloat the vessel.

The Caledonia Sky had 102 passengers and 79 crew on board at the time of the incident during an itinerary sailing from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines.Passengers were disembarked during the refloating process.

An estimated 1,600 square meters of reef at the popular diving site of Crossover Reef was damaged in the grounding. Eight coral genera were lost or reduced in the accident, including acropora, porites, montipora and stylophora - according to Tapilatu.

One local accommodation provider who derives his income from visitors to the reef asked: “How can this happen? Was a 12-year-old at the wheel? Anchor damage from ships like these is bad enough, but actually grounding a ship on a reef, takes it to a whole new level.”

Taplatu indicated that final recommendations may be for the cruise company to compensate their damage to the reef at between US$800 to $1,200 per square meter that could bring total damages to between US$ 1.28-$1.92 million to be paid to the district administration.

Any funds paid by the Cruise line, according to Tapilatu, would be used for the long process of reviving the reef, installing more mooring buoys and improving underwater mapping of the area.


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