When one thinks of the Caribbean, visions of sunsets, palm trees, and gentle breezes fill the mind. In a large part, the picture is an accurate one. However, the Caribbean and our Oceans are not immune to the environmental problems that plague other areas of the world.
DIP – Disaster In Progress
We have traveled to many Caribbean nations and have seen both the beautiful wonders, as well as the environmental tragedies.
- The shores and mangrove lagoons of Coxen Hole, Roatan are completely covered in garbage of all kinds.
- The beautiful beaches on the west coast of Dominica have yet to be cleaned up from the last hurricane – jagged metal, fiber glass, garbage dumped by residents fill the sand.
- Beautiful beaches such as Coki Beach in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands are littered with old boats, rusted out automobiles, and piles of litter.
- Plastic water bottles litter the ocean floor amongst the giant conch shells at Reggae beach in St. Kitts.
- The white coral sand beaches of St. John, US Virgin Islands are shrinking due to coral die off from human activity.
- Every ocean on earth now contain vast swirls of debris, mostly made of plastic.
- The sand on some beaches in the Pacific are slowly being replaced with bits of plastic. The baitfish near the bottom of the food chain are dying after ingesting these crumbles.
The majority of the world has yet to be awaken by the enormity of the environmental disaster that is already occurring in our oceans. The future of the Caribbean and its ocean ecosystem is in everyone’s hands. Everyone must play a part, no matter how small, in protecting these irreplaceable gifts.
What can I do to help?
Helping out is not difficult. Here is an easy list of things you can do.
1. Avoid or recycle plastic.
While extremely convenient and useful, plastic is typically thought of as temporary, and is usually either discarded or thrown out, often ending up in the water.
- If offered a straw or a styrofoam cup, ask for a glass.
- Buy glass bottles of pop and water…even if it ends up in the ocean, it will turn back into sand much more quickly than plastic.
- Never use plastic bags at the grocery store. Bring your own cloth bag. These bags have an average useful life of 20 minutes, blow into the water easily, and take a very long time to decompose.
- Always leave the area cleaner than when you arrived. If you see a piece of plastic on the ocean floor while you are snorkelling, pick it up and throw it in the trash.
- If you see a plastic cup in the sand, throw it in the trash.
- Get involved with CoastWeeks in your community, or plan your trip to the islands around it and spend a day helping out.
3. Promote awareness
- Support environmental awareness groups such as Teens4Oceans.
- COMPLAIN PUBLICLY about areas that need cleaned up. If word gets around, and the tourists stop going, they will change their ways. Tourism agencies and hotel owners read sites like TripAdvisor regularly to see what they can do to improve their services. If there enough negative complaints about a trashed beach, they might make the cleanup a priority.
- Someone standing on the reef on a snorkel trip? Let them know about the damage they are causing.
- See someone get up from their spot on the beach and leave their water bottle behind? Remind them that they left it. If they left it on purpose, they may be embarrased enough to not leave one again in the future.