Sunday, June 17, 2007

This is a site I'm never really happy to see when I'm diving. I was diving Wing Beach Saturday morning, along with about half of the other divers on the island it seemed, when I happened to come across an anchor line. There were a couple boats tied to the two moorings when I first got in the water, and they were the only ones I noticed. They both took off as we were coming back from the crevasse, leaving the moorings open.

Toward the end of the dive, we were just cruising over the shallow coral on the outside of the reefline, and that's when I saw the anchor line. I knew that the moorings were free now because I saw and heard the boats take off at least a half hour earlier. I followed the anchor line down, and sure enough, there was the anchor hooked into some coral on the bottom. I find this deeply disturbing because you don't have to look very far at Wing Beach to discover a lot of coral that has been completely destroyed by such things.

I'm not entirely sure why some of the boats seem to want to throw their anchors out on the coral, and drag it over the coral, busting it all up, especially when there are moorings put there for that very purpose. My first thought was that maybe this was a fishing boat, or someone was spearfishing from it. I tried to tell myself that maybe it was possible they didn't know about the moorings. Maybe they didn't realize that the reef was really that shallow right there and was covered with all kinds of beautiful coral. But by this point my curiosity was getting the best of me, so I surfaced to see just who would be so careless and show such a lack of concern for our natural habitat and beauty. I was quite surprised when I surfaced and saw this.

This was not a fishing boat, nor was it a spearfishing boat. This was a Japanes tourist dive boat - the May Fly! Of all the people who should know better than to throw their anchor overboard on top of beautiful live coral, I would have thought that a dive operator would be one of the most conscientious. After all, they make their living by taking tourists down to see all the wonders beneath the water, you would think they would want to keep our underwater treasures as pristine as possible. But not this one, they were carelessly destroying the very coral they were taking their divers down to see.

Now we do have laws against such things, the problem we have is enforcement, basically it doesn't exist. The agencies tasked with enforcing the laws protecting our environment are never on the scene, and even if you take the proof to them, such as this with pictures, and the identification of the boat clearly shown, they never bother following up on it. Since our government is so cash strapped and broke, you would think they'd be looking for every opportunity to bring in some much needed cash, and writing citations for violating these laws seems like a no brainer. But no, they can't be bothered.

So if our government really wants to save some money and cut down on wasted government services, I'd start by gutting the agencies tasked with upholding the laws protecting our coral reefs. Something tells me we wouldn't see any difference whatsoever if they just all the sudden ceased operating one day.