12 November 2014

Dive boat squashes reefs off Pulau Hantu

The MV Nautica, a large live-aboard dive boat was seen high and dry on the living reefs of Terumbu Hantu on 9 Nov, by friends who were diving (from another boat) in the area.
The brown bottom layer of the MV Nautica would usually be underwater if it was floating normally in the sea. This shows that the boat's entire weight is resting on the reefs and marine life at Terumbu Hantu.
Photo by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.
Here's more about this boat, the reefs it squashed and other boat strikes we've seen on our reefs.

As I understand it, to clear Singapore inspection, all vessels are required to have the latest navigation maps, as well as the usual equipment to monitor water depth and ship location in relation to our reefs. And during this season of Sargassum seaweed bloom, the reefs are very obvious from the brown growths floating at the sea surface. As you can see, the boat is sitting right in the middle of Sargassum. I am astonished that the boat operators could make such a mistake and have the reefs pay the price.
Photo by Lee Bee Yan on facebook.
The MV Nautica is a 24-metre (80ft) live-aboard dive vessel.
Starting 1 Nov 2014, the boat offers diving at Pulau Hantu every weekend. Will it operate safely for our reefs on all these weekend trips? Besides Pulau Hantu, it also operates in Malaysia (Tioman) and Indonesia (Riau, Mapur, Anambas). How safely have they operated on these trips?
Searching for MV Nautica using Vessel Tracker, this is the latest location given as at 12 Nov noon. Info from Vessel Tracker says: "Vessel named "MV NAUTICA", registered with IMO number N/A and MMSI 457835000 is pleasure craft She is currently sailing under the flag of Mongolia."
From the photos, it appears that MV Nautica squashed Terumbu Hantu, a submerged reef off Pulau Hantu.  There are many submerged reefs near Pulau Hantu, including one without a name, marked with an orange *.
Here's what we saw of the reefs at Terumbu Hantu in Jun 2013.
Some parts of Terumbu Hantu was densely covered with marine life.
Including a Fluted giant clam.
Here's another view of Terumbu Hantu when we visited in Apr 2012.
Boat strikes and groundings are a heartbreaking sight which we see too often. Here's a deep hole in the middle of Beting Bemban Besar in Apr 2013. It looks like the result of a boat strike or grounding.
This deep gouge on Terumbu Semakau in Nov 2012 looks like the result of a boat striking the reef at speed.
A different gouge on Terumbu Semakau in Jun 2011, also likely from a boat strike.
An aerial view of this same gouge on Terumbu Semakau in Jun 2014 (three years later) taken by Heng Pei Yan with the SG Sea Drone.
Another long deep trench gouged out on Cyrene Reef in Jun 2010, probably also a boat strike.
And a deep trench in the middle of Terumbu Pempang Darat in Jun 2010.

Over the years, I and my team have safely visited almost all of Singapore's submerged reefs without damaging them with the boat we are on.

Why can't others, especially those who come to dive our reefs, visit safely too?

Related links
Storm over reef damage incident at Pulau Hantu by Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Dec 14;


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