Bull sharks not bulldozers in Bimini

I like SharkTrust’s caption on a photo illustrating an article about the development going on in the Bahamas around Bimini. “Bull sharks not bulldozers.” The bulldozers have already wreaked havoc in the area destroying mangrove forests, which are important nursing grounds for a number of shark species, particularly lemon sharks. Yet, once again money is prevailing as the Bahamian government allows Hilton Hotels Corporation and Capo Group to destroy this precious habitat and build yet still another golf course and another hotel. What will be the attraction in the area once all the natural beauty is destroyed and replaced by plastic, manufactured beauty?

A recent article in National Geographic calls the Bahamas an “Eden for sharks.” I think this article sums up the situation best:

“Bimini, Bahamas — As recently as 2002, plans were in motion to set aside five marine areas to preserve the economic and ecological lifeblood of the Bahamas, with Bimini rated as the highest priority. But a change in government put off the project, and there’s been no movement toward protection, despite angry prodding and accusations of corruption. Instead, giant resorts such as the one being built on Bimini have grown up on several outer islands. “The government is selling off this environment, cheap,” Gruber [a lemon shark researcher who runs a biological station in Bimini] says. A staffer at the Bahamas tourism office didn’t exactly disagree. “We are a young country,” said Leonard Stuart, referring to the Bahamas’ 1973 independence from Britain. “We have to learn our own lessons about our environment, and we’ll probably make mistakes.”

The ramifications could be costly. Tourism accounts for nearly half the gross national product of the Bahamas. Diving is a multimillion-dollar industry here, and sharks are an ever increasing draw. By Gruber’s back-of-the-envelope estimate, a single live shark in healthy habitat is worth as much as $200,000 in tourism revenue over its lifetime. And sharks’ ecological value is inestimable. Not only do they weed out sick and weak fish, leaving the fittest to breed, but as top predators they also keep other carnivores in check, preventing them from depleting the algae-eating fish that keep coral reefs healthy. Studies in the Caribbean have shown that where sharks are keystone species, their depletion could topple ancient food hierarchies and ultimately destroy the reefs.”

The only thing that might stop this destruction from continuing is public pressure. To learn more about the issue, and make your voice heard, visit:
www.savebimini.org
www.restrictbiminibayresort.org

www.tourismconcern.org.uk/campaigns/bimini-hilton.htm

You can also contact the following people to protest the destruction:

The Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie – Prime Minister
The Office of the Prime Minister
Cecil Wallace – Whitfield Centre
Cable Beach
P.O. Box N 3217
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
pmchristie@bahamas.gov.bs
242-327-5826-9

The Hon. Obediah H. Wilchcombe – Minister of Tourism / Parliament Member West End & Bimini
Ministry of Tourism
Bay Street
P.O. Box N-3701
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
242-322-7500

Mr. Michael Braynen – Director of Fisheries
Department of Fisheries
East Bay Street
P.O. Box N 3208
Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
michaelbraynen@bahamas.gov.bs
242-393-1777

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