The wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia in Italy is a sobering human tragedy, with at least 11 deaths and more missing. Sadly, it could become an environmental tragedy as well.
The Costa Concordia capsized Friday night near the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the largest marine sanctuary in the Mediterranean. The park is home to a variety of dolphins and whales, and its corals and seagrass create an important habitat for a variety of other plants and animals. Oceana visited the area during a 2006 expedition, documenting the health of the marine life there.
If the ship’s fuel leaks before the salvage team has a chance to drain it, the endangered and threatened species that live near the wreck will suffer.
“The tragic wreck occurred in a protected area that is home to many endangered species, so a spill would cause severe damage to organisms such as cetaceans, sharks and coral,” said Ricardo Aguilar, research director at Oceana Europe. This would be a great tragedy for the area, which in the past has suffered coral death due to climate change.
We here at Oceana extend our sympathy to the victims and their families. We can only hope that the tragedy ends here, and does not have a lasting impact on the underwater inhabitants of Giglio Island.