anchor, chain, coral reef damage
anchor, coral reef damage

Boaters can harm aquatic habitats and wildlife through poor anchoring techniques that disturb or damage animals and plants on the seafloor. The effects are of most concern in areas that are home to sensitive or slow-growing species, such as shellfish beds, coral reefs and seagrass beds. Did you know? Seagrass habitats store more than twice as much carbon as forests (Florida International University) and act as a nursery for many juvenile marine species such as fish, seahorses, manatees and sea turtles. To learn more, check out our Ocean Watch article, You Scratched My Seagrass!

Helpful tips when anchoring:

  • Use existing mooring buoys if available.
  • Anchor in water deep enough to avoid grounding your vessel with tide change.
  • If possible, anchor in sand or mud and avoid sensitive, important ecosystems, such as coral reefs, shellfish and seagrass beds.
  • If anchoring ashore, carefully place the anchor to minimize coastal damage. Avoid sand dunes and don’t tie your rope to a tree, they both protect inland areas from the destructive forces of wind and waves.
  • If you revisit the same site frequently, try to anchor in the same position.

When retrieving your anchor:

  • Motor slowly toward the anchor and retrieve when the line is vertical.
  • If the anchor is stuck, try to free it by hand, or disconnect it and mark the site with a buoy for a diver to retrieve later.
  • Do not force the anchor free by motoring forward.

Nautical charts can help you identify proper places to cruise and anchor. The color of the water can also give you a good indication of what is below the surface. Shallow waters with bottom formations and seagrass beds look brown, while deeper waters appear green or blue. Always navigate with caution in deeper waters as reefs and rocks can rise abruptly. Sand bars and shallow rubble areas look white and can be deceiving as they may be much shallower than they appear. Use this old mariner’s saying to help you remember where to cruise:

Brown, Brown, Run Aground

White, White, You Just Might

Green, Green, Nice and Clean

Blue, Blue, Cruise on Through

Green Boating Guide: