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Anchor Damage on Coral Reefs


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Posted by Elaine on October 17, 2010 at 11:59:02:

In April 2010 I visited the Clipperton Atoll on the Nautilus Explorer. It was a fantastic trip.

Clipperton "Atoll" or "Island" is a small, remote, unsheltered, uninhabited,and isolated island far off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean.. There are no mooring balls at Clipperton. This was only the second trip for recreational diving ever offered to the Atoll. Clipperton is in its infancy as a "dive destination", and this trip, as well as the one in 2007 were "exploratory".

We saw some fantastic sights and animal life during the two week journey, I'm still working on my "Trip Report and Photos" at elainejobin.com- so far I have only completed the first few days. However, among other things, I had the opportunity to witness first hand the dramatic damage that an anchor can do to a coral reef.

Early in the trip, The Nautilus Explorer was anchored off Clipperton Atoll for some afternoon diving. During the dive, the wind picked up and had a slight change in its direction. This caused movement of the anchor chain across the reef. Fortunately, it probably did not sweep more than 20 yards. The following are a few of the photos, from the sequence, of a coral head being destroyed by the anchor chain movement. Chris estimated the size of the coral head to be between one and two tons.


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010
Clipperton Atoll Coral Head, anchor damage to a coral reef, Photo by Elaine Jobin 2010


After this dive, we showed these pictures to the Captain of the Nautilus Explorer. He made an on the spot decision to no longer anchor in shallow waters for our dives. All following dives at Clipperton was done via live drop off and pick up from the "panga".

This was the first time that I have witnessed first hand the dramatic damage that an anchor, and more importantly, its chain, can cause to coral. It made me a firm believer in the mooring buoy or live drop off only system when diving in coral terrain. Kudos to the Captain and crew of the Nautilus Explorer for the prompt actions taken to preserve the reefs at Clipperton!!!

Posted by Elaine Jobin



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