Categorized | National News

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays Leaders Take Nine Teens On A Weeklong Eco Tour of Grand Bahama

Tell people you’ve just spent seven days swimming with stingrays, gliding through mangroves in a kayak, horseback riding and swimming in the open water with dolphins and they might assume you’re describing an expensive eco holiday or a much-dreamed about summer vacation. They may even ask where they can sign up for one themselves.

But, for nine lucky Grand Bahama teens, experiencing some of the most unforgettable activities The Bahamas has to offer was all part of Camp Eco-Explorer, a seven-day camp sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays.

“It was such a blessing to convene with young minds and introduce them to Mother Nature in her most natural, unspoiled form,” said Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville. “To see their faces light up at the sight of a stingray and the peace that washed over their faces as we kayaked through mangroves….it was truly miraculous.”

As members of Waterkeeper Alliance, a leading international NGO that coordinates more than 290 member licensed organisations who act as watchdogs for the world’s waterways, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas work tirelessly to make sure the citizens of the Bahamas are educated and informed about decisions, policies and practices that have an impact—positively or negatively—on the country’s fragile ecosystem. One of its main initiatives is protection of mangroves which act as incubators for marine life and a barrier from ocean surges and flooding during storms.

“For a few of the campers, this was their first time in a kayak and also the first time they had been up close and in mangroves,” said Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director Rashema Ingraham. “This camp has given them an experience to use as a point of reference when it comes making big decisions about their environment going forward.”

“I found it really impressive how beautiful the mangroves are,” said 15-year-old Viore Bosfield. “They are really amazing. They live in a such a tough area and they adapt perfectly.”

In addition to acting as buffers when severe weather strikes, mangroves provide filtration adding to the reasons Bahamian waters are crystal clear. Unfortunately, they are also one of the first plants cleared to make way for developments because they often stand between the open water and land. Removal of mangroves and wetlands makes hurricanes that much more devastating.

“So many people my age don’t care about the environment,” said 14-year-old camper Tyler Adderley. “They grow up thinking they should sell off our beautiful lands and beaches to others when they don’t realize it’s unique and should be kept as ours.”

These are exactly the kind of ecological realities Darville and Ingraham spent the week conveying to their young stewards with the hope that when it comes their turn to make decisions about the ecological future of their country, they’ll make informed choices.

“A big part of changing the mindset of Bahamians so they become involved in protecting and preserving the environment is to inspire Millennials,” Ingraham said. “Everyone can relate to a calming, life-changing experience when they talk about the water. These campers are the faces of our future Waterkeepers. They now have the confidence and the spark to be stronger agents of change.”


Written by Jones Bahamas

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