Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blue tang reef

There was a little out-of-the-way beach here on island with a lovely coral reef just offshore where we liked to snorkel. We called it Blue Tang Beach because of the beautiful blue tang fish we often saw there.

That was before the ultra-expensive resort came to the island, with its marina for luxury yachts carved out of the shore, just a few hundred meters from Blue Tang Beach. The last time we snorkeled there the reef was as good as dead. Another of our favorite snorkel reefs, not far from the resort, shows signs of stress as massive earth-moving machinery prepares yet another site for multimillion-dollar holiday homes.

And so we watch as virtually unregulated development on this sweet little island destroys the very things that made it an attractive destination. Dunes are bulldozed, ridges leveled, the land poisoned with pesticides, reefs destroyed, dark sky obliterated, all for the occasional pleasure of very rich foreigners.

There is of course an economic benefit for the islanders -- but at what cost? Carefully-regulated, ecologically-sensitive development on a more modest scale could have the same economic advantages while preserving the best of the Bahamas for the children and grandchildren of Bahamians.