The Department of Environment told Cayman 27 the reef restoration effort at Eden Rock is complete, ten weeks after the 328-foot Saga container ship ran aground last November. The grounding caused more than 8,300 sq ft of damage to one of the island’s best-loved dive sites, even causing portions of its swim-through cavern system to collapse.
“That area that looked like it was shaved off, they almost turned that into a canvas for new corals, just planting them all down there, so it looks a lot better,” said Chris Bodden, manager of Paradise Snorkel and Scuba.
He said signs of destruction caused by the Saga have been minimised by reef restoration efforts at Eden Rock.
“I almost didn’t recognize it compared to the first day when I saw all the damage,” he said.
Mr. Bodden was among the first to document the damage. He recorded GoPro video on the morning of November 25th, just hours after the ship was steered bow-first directly into the reef structure.
“All of the very large structures that were impacted have been cemented back together, the voids have been filled, the natural rugosity of the area, i.e., the undulating effect of the spur and groove system has been replicated,” said DOE Deputy Director Tim Austin.
He told Cayman 27 the Eden Rock restoration work was completed by Polaris applied sciences last Friday. Now a two-year monitoring programme begins.
“A restoration effort was just a, although a large effort, just a small part of the process here,” explained Mr. Austin. “There’s still the legal side that the DOE is dealing with, and we will be following up on that now.”
He said some 2,500 corals have been reattached to the reef structure, quite a visual contrast from the immediate aftermath, but far from back to its former glory.
“That’s still not the entire amount that was there before the ship impacted it, so there’s still a loss on the area,” said Mr. Austin.
Mr. Austin said one area of concern remains on the site. A massive boulder is wedged in a hole over one of the swim-through tunnels, posing a potential hazard.
He said the DOE plans to have that taken care of in the next week.