Anchors 'aweigh'!

Written by: Eureka! | Published:

Thanks to nature documentaries like Planet Earth and growing concerns about global warming, people are becoming more aware of the fragility of our natural ecosystems.

Increasingly, stories about the destruction of coral reefs are finding their way into the mainstream news. Not only do these multi-coloured, undersea worlds harbour hundreds – if not thousands – of different species, they also protect the shores of the continents they surround.

Coral reefs form a natural barrier that buffer shorelines from the effects of erosion by waves and storms, and they even help prevent flooding. When reefs are damaged or destroyed, the absence of this natural barrier can increase the damage to coastal communities.

One of the main causes of reef damage, outside of pollution, is from small to medium sized ship anchors, which drag along the seafloor dislodging and killing corals. So, this month’s challenge is to redesign the anchor so it causes less damage, or none at all.

With growing numbers of small to medium size boats in both developing and developed countries setting sail for coral reefs, how do they ensure they don’t cause damage?

Your design should do away with the classic two-pronged look to avoid any ‘skipping and tripping’ as the anchor lands on the seabed, eliminating the deadly drag. It should also be able to stay put if the tide changes. Perhaps you could think of innovative materials that are heavy, grippy and soft, all at the same time.

As always, we have a solution in mind that we will publish in the June issue of Eureka! In the meantime, if you have any ideas either email them to the editor: or leave a comment below.

Solution to last month’s Coffee Time Challenge

Last month we asked you to redesign the ships anchor so that they cause less damage to coral reefs, thereby preserving the most delicate ecosystem on the planet.

Our solution comes from Divemex, specialists in fire underwater engineering. It’s Claw Anchor is for use on small boats up to 55ft (17.7m), the kind that often take holidaymakers out to explore coral reefs.

The Claw Anchor incorporates a twin rail design that ensures stability and accuracy, sets within its own length and is easy to deploy and recover. The arrangement of the multiple flukes mean that the anchor will set whichever way it lands on the sea-bed, reducing potential damage to sea-grass and sensitive marine organisms such as corals.

The Claw Anchor is available in six standard sizes ranging from 4.2 to 35kg. To find out more visit:

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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.


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