On Tuesday, the Indonesian authorities announced an incident which took place in the eastern part of the country. A British cruise ship crashed into a pristine coral reef near Raja Ampat. The area is known as one of the marine ecosystems on Earth with the richest biodiversity. The crash caused big damage to the reef and alerted the authorities and the environment officials.
Raja Ampat is one of the top attractions in Indonesia, either for divers or for people who want to witness the beauty of the remote setting. The fairytale experience of the tourists was destroyed when the Caledonian Sky, the British ship weighing 4,200 tons, struck the reefs at low tide.
Costly damage done to the coral reef
The damaged reefs were situated near Kri, one of the many islands in the Raja Ampat area. The incident happened earlier this month, when dozens of tourists were on an expedition of bird watching. The ship was carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew members. After the crash, it got stuck in the reefs and had to be refloated by a tug boat.
Ricardo Tapilatu from the University of Papua is one of the researchers that assessed the damage done to the corals. He noticed that the crash affected 145,000 square feet of coral reef. The cost of the damage raises somewhere around $16.2 million.
This incident did not go undetected, as it spiced much outrage among the local communities, which rely on Raja Ampat for its touristic value. Dozens of Facebook posts condemned the captain of the ship and deplored the massive damage, which is both costly and hard to fix.
Many condemn the cruise leaders
Yusdi Lamatenggo was the tourism agency that confirmed that the incident took place on March 4th. The environmental group Conservation International blames those who led the cruise. They should not have been allowed to enter the Raja Ampat area, since it hosted unique coral reefs and a protected marine habitat.
The reef will indeed grow back, but it will never be as pristine as before. The Raja Ampat archipelago is a protected area, as it is incredibly biodiverse and hosts around 1,400 species of fish and 603 species of coral. Thus, the damage done is irreversible. This is a huge loss both for Indonesia and for marine ecosystems in general.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons