Turquoise seas and white sand beaches are the well-known signature of the Bahamas. The warm shallow seas, which astronauts peering down at the planet from their shuttles and space stations have repeatedly declared the most beautiful waters in the world, are a huge draw for tourists.

The country’s superficial beauty often eclipses the importance of the region’s marine environment. The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands. The region supports a complex ecosystem of rich Bahamoan-Antillean mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, which in turn provide shelter, nursery and foraging habitats, nutrition, and a host of other critically important functions to an enormous list of lifeforms. This ecoregion literally feeds the Atlantic with life and nutrients.

Pigeon Creek mangroves in Bahamas. Photo by tjdatsrt on Flickr.

This past week Swim Guide visited Save the Bays (STB) in The Bahamas to learn about the damage that unregulated development and aged and the overwhelmed infrastructures on the islands are causing to this vitally important marine environment. Save the Bays is a Bahamian not-for-profit organization committed to the protection and preservation of the country’s environment.

Our incredible hosts were Lindsey McCoy, CEO of STB and Joseph Darville, Director of STB. Sam Duncombe from re Earth, Reverend CB Moss, and and Celi Moss joined us on the tour to provide us with the background on a variety of environmental concerns around New Providence.

The extraordinary group of environmentalists that flew to the Bahamas to learn about the current environmental issues the country is facing and to support Save the Bays’ efforts included Sharon Khan, International Director of Waterkeeper Alliance, Alex Matthiessen, CEO of Blue Marble Project, Archie Carr, Board of Directors for the Sea Turtle Conservancy, and Marydele Donnelly, Director of International Policy for the Sea Turtle Conservancy. The executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper and coral specialist, Rachel Silverstein also joined the group.

Special thanks to Grant Johnson and Katie Grudecki at Bimini Sands for the tour of Bimini.

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