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Feb 10, 2020

Anchor Grounded on Reef near Long Caye

News spread like wildfire on Sunday evening on social media as images surfaced of an anchor grounded near Long Caye in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll.  The area is known as one of the most popular dive site because of the diverse marine life and the corals located there. While tours were underway, a yacht which is not registered in Belize, did not lodge itself to any of the mooring pins in the area, but instead released its anchor on the aquarium. The devastating reef destruction at Lighthouse Reef has environmentalists up in arms because the images, taken by one of the dive crews in the area, show that the owner seemingly had no regard for the marine life and protocol for visitors in the area. The atoll is managed by the Belize Audubon Society, who was notified immediately of the incident, but by the time they got to the area along with the personnel from the Belize Coast Guard, the vessel had already left the area. Executive Director Amanda Burgos shares details.

 

Amanda Burgos

Amanda Burgos, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“Once we found out about the grounding and we saw the footage, we did proceed to the location accompanied by the Coast Guard—so it was a joint initiative—however, by the time we got out there, the vessel was already outside the atoll. It had left the location already. Indications are that the vessel had already checked out from Sunday and that it was just a last stop on their visit. The exact reasoning, we cannot reason as to why, what happened, however, we want to assure people that the government agencies have been contacted and they will be doing an assessment. There were dive boats out on Sunday. The last dive of the day when you do a Lighthouse Reef, Blue Hole, Halfmoon Caye wall dive is the aquarium. It is a shallow dive and is very famous of its marine biodiversity—lots of fish, lots of beautiful coral. That location has mooring pins, which is another point to flag. There are large vessels often anchored but more down south of that location. Long Caye is a large mangrove island; it is one of the five islands in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and it is a commerce spot in terms of wave action and marine navigation. So there are mooring pins and anchoring locations but further south down from that location. From all indications we have, the information gotten to us that we have the video from sometime around four-thirty to about five; different people, different agencies including Belize Audubon, the Belize Coast Guard, Fisheries Department and several other government agencies received the video footage, it was shared with everybody and a series of calls and actions went into place.”


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