A few days back we reported on a discovery of what was believed to be a submersible equipment of some sort on the reef off San Pedro Ambergris Caye. The discovery was made around three thirty on Wednesday March 11th. Pictures we see were posted on the San Pedro Sun Facebook page. Today, Oceana issued a release on the damages caused to the Belize barrier Reef following an assessment conducted on March 13th in collaboration with Hol Chan Marine Reserve. According to their findings, the deep water submersible was discovered about six miles north of San Pedro Town in an area known as Mexico Rocks, within the recently expanded Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Their report indicates that the item described as a Quantum 9, heavy work class ROV measures almost 12ft in length by 6.6ft in width and includes four propellers topside, another two in the front and two more in the rear. The device also includes several underwater cameras. It came to a stop in approximately three feet of water and the damage it caused substantial damage to the coral species. Oceana Belize’s Communications Director Alyssa Carnegie is quoted as saying, “The damage already caused by the ROV and the complexity of its removal from the Belize Barrier Reef, as well as the recent sailboat stranding off Caye Caulker, highlights the lack of the necessary resources to respond properly and timely to incidents at sea. How we handle these incidents communicates, nationally and globally, the level of respect we hold for our marine wealth.”
According to the organization, up until their visit the submersible could not be removed due to high wave action. Further investigations indicate that the vessel has been identified by the manufacturer as an ROV reported as “lost” in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2014. Oceana adds that they have been reliably informed that the manufacturer contracted the ROV to a company called Impersub International, which does research and exploration for gas and oil companies.
Under the circumstances, being the damages to the reef, Oceana states its support to the removal of the submersible as soon as possible. The organizations investigations were done separately from that of authorities who responded to the report. Last week, we must note that officials at the National Coast Guard indicated that the item found was NOT a submersible and that there were no indications that it is linked with any illegal activity.
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