Almost two years after the Carnival Magic cruise ship dropped anchor outside the designated anchorage zone, the small band of volunteers who came together to pick up the pieces say the reef restoration effort is complete.
Reef restoration volunteers used concrete to secure loose boulders to the seafloor. Volunteer coordinator Lois Hatcher told Cayman 27 months and months of hard work like this has made a big difference at what is now known as “Magic reef.”
“If you squint your eye and look in the right direction then it’s hard to tell there ever was a big scar out there,” she said wryly.
On August 27th, 2014, the Carnival Magic, at the direction of a Port-Authorit (PACI) authorized pilot from Bodden’s shipping, dropped its anchor and chain outside the designated anchorage area, destroying 16,ooo square feet of pristine coral reef.
No one was ever held accountable for the incident.
A volunteer effort was launched to save what corals were left, commencing on 20 September, 2014.
“We’ve had some volunteers that have stuck with us for almost two years, and we were the ones that went out and got the job done,”
Those volunteers raised $28,000 CI to fund the restoration. Carnival Cruise Lines eventually coughed up a $100,000 US, but without admitting fault.
That money bought a boat, the Honey Badger, which met its fate on ironshore rocks.
“There were a lot of things that stalled us, but in the end we got the job done, and we saved a lot of coral that otherwise would have died,” said Ms. Hatcher.
In contrast with the 22 months of work on Magic reef, billionaire Paul Allen’s self-funded repair of the 14,000 square feet of reef destroyed by his mega yacht Tatoosh took only 24 days.
“It would have been nicer if we could have just banged it out like they did on Paul Allen’s project, but we didn’t have the money or the people to do that,” lamented Ms. Hatcher.
She told Cayman 27 she’s proudest of the hard work and bulldog tenacity of the volunteers.
“If we wouldn’t have done the work that we did, there’d be an ugly jagged scar out there that would have continued to grow,” said Ms. Hatcher.
Ms. Hatcher, who was named CITA’s Watersports employee of the year for her role in this restoration effort and in the 19-96 Maasdam restoration, said 85% of the corals re-planted at the Magic reef site have survived.
Site monitoring and maintenance will continue for several years.