Coral reefs are fragile and, often, slow growing animals. The extent of the damage caused by anchoring can vary from partial to complete destruction. And it can take a very long time for reefs to recover from this damage.
Irresponsible anchorage of some snorkeling tour operator’s speedboat are causing serious damage to corals in Phu Quoc island, Vietnam.
Coral reefs are especially important in biodiverse and productive ecosystems on earth, home to numerous marine lives. Coral reefs provide food and resources for more than 500 million people in over 100 countries and territories according to the study done by The Columbia Climate School in the United States of America.
But tragically, coral reefs are in crisis.
The problem with anchoring
So here’s the thing: anchors are heavy. Really heavy. And often they have a long, weighty chain attached to them. So when they’re dropped onto a fragile coral reef, it’s no surprise they leave a path of destruction behind them.
Every time an anchor is dropped and comes into contact with living organisms at the bottom of the seabed, it usually results in some kind of physical damage, dislodgement or an increase in sedimentation. If anchoring isn’t done right, this kind of damage can happen at various stages, during the placing, retrieval and while at anchor too.
How does anchoring damage corals?
There are a few factors that can determine just how much damage an anchor can cause to the seabed. For instance, it can depend on how many boats there are in the area, how big the boats are, what the weather conditions are like and the substrate firmness too.
Coral reefs are fragile and, often, slow growing animals. There are many types of corals and anchoring affects all of the family groups. The extent of the damage caused by anchoring can vary from partial to complete destruction. And it can take a very long time for reefs to recover from this damage.
Irresponsible anchorage can cause serious damage to corals.
This clip below we recorded on one of our snorkels here. A tour operator whose boat anchored right at a reef of soft coral (Toadstool Leather Coral) and a Hard coral (Genus Montipora – Cabbage coral). You see right away, a part of the Cabbage coral is badly broken.
Due to the lack of understanding in “sustainable tourism” and those boat and tour operators who prioritize money over protection of the environment that anchor damage to coral colonies is happening right here in Phu Quoc.
Here’s a closer look at the different types of coral and how susceptible they are to anchor damage:
- Soft corals: Soft coral have a flexible, sometimes leathery appearance. They lack a hard skeleton which means they’re highly susceptible to physical damage.
- Branching corals: Branching corals are brittle, due to the branching morphology of its calcium carbonate skeleton. This also makes them highly susceptible to damage.
- Massive corals: With their calcium carbonate skeleton, massive corals have important reef-building qualities. They are somewhat more resistant to physical damage than other types of corals, but can still suffer harm from poor anchoring.
Those severely damaged corals and reefs would not survive, especially where there is no professional coral restoration institute or organization to help them. They cannot speak for themselves. We must help them to help us on a long-term basis.
How can we help to prevent anchor damage?
Want to find out more about how you can prevent anchor damage? Keep an eye out for your future decisions:
- Please refrain from renting longtail boats, speedboats from local fishermen without a professional tour guide who knows where to anchor safely. Check out fishing tours that we OnBird offers. All our tours are accompanied by professional guides who love to protect the beautiful marine life of Phu Quoc.
- Please use mooring buoys instead of anchoring where possible.
- Contact OnBird Phu Quoc or a reputable tour/boat operator to obtain the information prior to your arrival in Phu Quoc.
Please use #savephuquoc and post your actions in Instagram and Facebook.