Cruise Ship Allegedly Destroys 1,000-Year-Old Coral Reef

Cruise ships are major polluters in the ocean, dumping millions of gallons of sewage and garbage into the ocean every month. But even they usually avoid outright destruction of coral reefs.

But according to a video posted on Dec. 8, the Pullmantur Zenith, operated by parent company Royal Caribbean, went a step farther, pulverizing a large swath of coral reef near the Grand Cayman island with its anchor chain.

zenith cruise ship
Photo by Adrien.Castel; Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

As reported by diver Scott Prodahl, who shot the video above:

Another sad day for the reefs of Grand Cayman. Today we noticed that the Pullmantur Zenith (a division of Royal Caribbean Cruise lines) was anchored oddly close to the reef so we decided to go out and have a look…As you will see in the video, a massive portion of the reef out front from Don Fosters and Eden Rock was completely destroyed today. The Department of Environment was contacted but nothing could be done because this was a designated anchorage zone and they were given permission to drop anchor. In the previous several decades this pristine portion of the reef was never needed as an anchorage location but for some reason today, when there was only 4 ships in port, it was deemed necessary. As part of the marine park, we are not allowed to fish here, not allowed to hunt lobsters, you can’t even pick up an empty shell, all in the name of conservation?….but for some reason you can drop an anchor and wipe out a reef that took thousands of years to grow.
This video was shot roughly an hour after the anchor was dropped, I can’t imagine what it looks like now.

Sad indeed. Even though this be legal in the eyes of the local authorities, any responsible mariner will go out of their way to avoid dragging an anchor chain over reef. This is just more in a long line of examples of cruise liners flipping the bird to the environment.