Significant damage caused to important St. Maarten dive site

POSTED: 04/1/11 12:49 PM

St. Maarten – A local Dive Centre reported severe structural damage observed on the bridge of the Carib Cargo Wreck Dive Site on March 28. The Carib Cargo is an approximately 30 meter wreck which sits upright in 45 feet of water.

The damaged reef is within the boundaries of the Man of War Shoals Marine Park and is one of the most popular dive sites, particularly with cruise visitors. It is also one of the healthiest artificial reefs on the island, with significant amounts of wildlife calling the wreck home. The bridge is the most suitable place on the ship for marine life to have a home. This includes coral colonies and fish species. The bridge of the Carib Cargo also provides a popular swim through for divers.

Nature Foundation staff assessed the damage during a dive on March 29 using Scuba. They found there was indeed significant structural damage was noticed on the bridge, with wide gashes located on the port side, top, and starboard side of the structure. A segment of the bridge mast was also torn off and was found lying approximately 20 meters to the port side of the wreck. Numerous pieces of coral were found shorn off and littering the bottom. An initial assessment determined that either a towing cable or a dragged anchor caused the damage. Follow up assessment dives using camera equipment were also carried out and an incident report was compiled and submitted to the relevant authorities.

During the inspections it was also noted that the Nature Foundation dive mooring on the Carib Cargo was missing due to the damage caused to the super structure. This is the second such incident with damage to dive sites in the area of the Man of War Shoal Marine Park, with similar damage caused to Proselyte Reef early in 2010. The Nature Foundation says it will continue assessing the damage and will explore ways in which to restore both the damage on the Carib Cargo and on Proselyte Reef.

“There is also continued positive cooperation with authorities regarding ways to ensure that similar incidents are avoided in the future,” Marine Park Manager Tadzio Bervoets said.

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