The Caribbean? What is it and why do we love it?
By popular definition, the Caribbean is a group of islands bounded by the Caribbean Sea.But what does it mean to me?
When I see the world Caribbean, here’s what goes through my mind.
I see green. Gigantic mountains frilled with lush trees, encompassing the entire green colour spectrum, reflecting the warm(HOT) sunshine. Palm trees on the beach. Wild grasses scattered everywhere. Green forest canopy housing a tropical rainbow of wildlife. Birds, wildcats, insects, deer, monkeys, snakes, each exhibiting a colour wheel of their own.
I see blue. Each and every shade of blue. Bluueeee waters. Simply magical. Around every corner of an island. Oceans dancing to the rhythm of the breeze.Cloudless skies, mirroring the ocean below.
I see white. Purity. Simplicity. White sand beaches. Crisp. Complimenting the ocean blue hues. White foam of the waves beating against the cliffs, beating against the shoreline.
I see an underwater rainbow. The corals below the blue. An Atlantis, beaming with life. Untouched, undisturbed, thriving.Self sustaining.Brilliant contrasts of bursting colours – orange, yellow,pink. A housing system for fish, anemones, crabs, lobsters, clams, stingrays, turtles.
I see living pieces of history. A sea turtle with a shell. A shell so intricately handcrafted, with lines of definition, telling of it’s past. A gentle creature which chooses the Caribbean shores to continue it’s species.
A multitude of fauna, evolved over billions of years, all packed into a tiny region. It is the world’s largest biodiversity hub.Pops of colour at every turn,of living, breathing specimens. Thousands of flora species scattered like glitter, complementing the natural wonder. All sizes and shapes, each with its own niche.
I see all these beautiful things….in my head at least. *record screech*
Let’s now talk about reality.
I see gray.Monotonous, mirroring the mood. Bleached coral. Zero life. No biodiversity. All dead due to the chain reactions of our activities. What activities you may ask?
- Dumping of sewage and other waste from the hotel industries along the coast
- Dropping of anchors from large ships and boats
- Humans- stepping and breaking the corals as souvenirs
- Toxic chemicals from sunscreens and skin products washing into the water
- Oil spills
- CLIMATE CHANGE and so many more……
To this I say, use your discretion. Always keep in the back of your mind this: when the corals die, a habitat is destroyed. Fish and other marine life all die. No food for us humans. No income from ecotourism. When the corals die, what is there to see? Would you like to pay money to see shades of grey? I WOULD NOT! So why then are we destroying these ecosystems, these wonders of nature? Once it’s gone, it will not be back for thousands of years.
Climate change. Some countries in the Caribbean play a significant roll in contributing to climate change.Eg. Trinidad with its oil industry.Tons of greenhouse gases emitted everyday.Yes, you are uplifting your economy, but technology is also advancing. Why not put some effort into creating more environmentally sustainable methods of production? Do we like being on top ten lists for pollution indices?
I see a growing number of endangered species, mainly the leatherback sea turtles, which to graciously choose our Caribbean shores to nest. They are killed mercilessly, for what? Meat! and left disgracefully to rot on the shores where their unborn babies are to soon hatch. Some countries have policies in place to protect these species, however, not enough is being done to enforce the laws. I believe strict penalties as well as proper law enforcement should be implemented with immediate effect if they are to be saved.
So many plants and animals being killed directly and indirectly. Clearing of land causes habitat destruction hence some undiscovered species may have already been destroyed and we will never know the benefits they might have brought, the cure for a disease, ecosystem stability, who knows?! Why is more effort not being placed on biodiversity conservation? I am pretty sure man made structures will not help you in the future with respect to medical advancements, food, ecotourism,etc.
I see litter EVERYWHERE in certain Caribbean islands, especially on the beaches. Those tiny straws, bottles, bags, that you believe will not end up anywhere or won’t cause any harm, end up in the stomachs, around the necks and in the noses of turtles, whales,birds and dolphins. Why do we exclaim in shock when we see them beaching? It is because of that small piece of garbage that you thought was harmless that caused an animal to be tortured to death. Again I say, use your discretion. How far is it to walk to the bin? Stricter policies and penalties need to be implemented and enforced.
The list can go on and on but I will leave it to you and google. This is just the tip of the iceberg. To my Caribbean people, as well as non Caribbean people, tourists, travellers,everyone. I urge you to take a stance. Say no to the destruction of our beautiful region. We all enjoy what it has to offer, so why not protect these gems with all our might? Even if you think, what difference will it make if YOU simply pick up a plastic cup and throw it away….just think about if everyone did the same as you what a great impact it would have. It’s time now to reverse the cycle of environmental degradation. We did not create it, so who are we to destroy it?
REMEMBER : Change begins with YOU and a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.