A cargo ship runs aground in George Town harbour, damaging a coral reef inside the marine park. It happened early Friday morning, just before 6 just offshore of Paradise restaurant and the popular Eden Rock dive site.
The Department of Environment told Cayman 27 the 100 meter, 2936 tonne cargo ship ‘Saga’ struck the reef as it was making its departure. The DOE said it conducted an initial rapid assessment on the damaged area, and plans to further quantify and assess the damage.
The DOE said the ship’s captain has already been interviewed.
Paradise snorkel and scuba manager Chris Bodden was alerted to the grounding shortly after it happened. He jumped into action to document the damage.
“When I swam out to see how bad it was, I was really, I was really taken back because it was pretty heavy in some areas,” he said. “The only way to describe it is that it looks like somebody took a jack hammer and just kind of chipped the top of it off. Some areas are worse than others, I’m not sure if it will show up in the video, but there was one piece of coral, about my size, just completely torn off.”
Mr. Bodden said he had noticed missing or moved marker buoys in the area months before the incident, and alerted both the DOE and Port Authority. He says to his knowledge, no effort had been made to repair or replace the buoys.
The Ministry of Environment, in a statement issued late Friday, reassured the public that arrangements were being made so that the responsible party can make restitution:
“The environment is Cayman’s most precious commodity, and a viable public asset that affects our way of life. Any purported damage to our natural resources is a matter of grave concern.The Department of Environment’s assessment of the incident is still in the preliminary stages; and they will be surveying the damage in the coming days. Once the true environmental impact of this incident is identified, the Ministry will be taking legal advice on the next course of action.”