The ship was returning from a bird-watching expedition in West Papua, Waigeo Island, where it ran into the reef during a low tide and got stuck. The boat then had to wait until a tug-boat, sent from Sorong City, could help re-float the vessel. Ricardo Tapilatu, a marine researcher from the University of Papua, said that the assistance of the tugboat “shouldn’t have happened because it damaged the reef even more. They should have waited for high tide to re-float the vessel.”
The Indonesian government estimates that 13,500 square metres of valuable diving site has been damaged by the crash. Noble Caledonia, the company operating the Caledonian Sky, is reportedly working towards a suitable sum to compensate the local area. Tapilatu believes that it could take up to £13.5 million to re-establish the reef.
The area is widely hailed as “the underwater Amazon” because of its diverse ecosystem, making it a goldmine for divers. The reef is home to 1,300 species of fish and 603 species of coral and it has a worldwide status as “one of the best preserved marine environments”, making it a major tourist attraction and source of income.
Noble Caledonia has apologised to residents, stating, “We are working with local experts to understand how we can assist with the regeneration. We are sorry to have affected the local community.”