Although the Earth's oceans cover more than two-thirds of the planet's surface, it has become clear that our oceans are not without their limits. For decades, marine life has been largely open for use by anyone possessing the means to exploit it. And if this exploitation is left unchecked, there will be tragic consequences both for the marine environment and for people dependent on these ecosystems.
In the Bahamas, protecting the marine environment is essential to sustaining the Bahamian way of life. The Tourism Industry generates more than 50% of the total income to the economy of the Bahamas, most of that coming from adventurers attracted to the world class fishing and diving. The Bahamas boasts the clearest waters in the world, and is home to the third largest coral barrier reef on the planet.
Located a mere 50 miles from the coast of Florida, Bimini is a pair of small islands in the Bahamas that are rich with history and natural resources. Aside from the beautiful beaches, Bimini's shores are dominated by mangroves and shallow seagrass lagoons. Mangrove lagoons1 and seagrass beds2 are among the most productive marine ecosystems, providing nursery and feeding grounds for many coral reef fishes, reef-associated predators, and commercially important fish.
Bimini North Sound
Bimini also provides nesting areas for both Loggerhead Turtles and the endangered Hawksbill Turtle, serves as one of the best places in the world to see wild Bottlenose Dolphins and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, and it's marine ecosystems have made it long renowned as both the Big Game Fishing Capital of the World, and one of the world's best dive destinations.
Amidst all of the natural and cultural beauties of the island, Bimini is in jeopardy. The island's resources are being destroyed, risking permanent damage to the paradise that has inspired everyone who has been there, from Ernest Hemmingway to Martin Luther King Jr. This controversial development that threatens Bimini's ecology is the Bimini Bay Resort and Casino.3
Baby Loggerhead Turtle
The Bimini Bay Resort & Casino has already removed large areas of Bimini's pristine habitats, both on land and under the sea. While the resort development is still in it's early stages, the impact is already being felt.3 The Bimini Bay Resort & Casino has plans to build and entire community with a marina complex, full service casino, and golf course,4 and promises to bring a boost to Bimini's economy.5 This development is slated to replace one of the Bahamas' most important marine nursery habitats, Bimini's North Sound lagoon. The North Sound nursery supplies large areas of the Bahamas with fish, lobster, and conch, and was designated as the highest priority site to be included in the Bahamian Marine Reserves program.
The Bahamian Marine Reserve program has dedicated five sites around the Bahamas as permanent reserves. These areas will be protected from fishing or any other form of harmful human encroachment, and will serve to replenish and maintain fish, conch, and lobster populations outside of the reserve. The Bimini Bay Resort and Casino's proposed site for their golf course is in direct conflict with the proposed marine reserve.
The Bimini Biological Field Station is not against development interests in Bimini, but it is against development that threatens to destroy the beauty and ecology of this precious island.
You can help protect Bimini by voicing your concerns, and encouraging that the Bimini Marine Reserve be established immediately.
Pirate's Well Mangrove Forest
UPDATE: A new website has been created concerning this immensely important issue, please visit www.savebimini.org for more information.
Read the media coverage on the Bimini Bay Resort and Casino
Read more about the Bimini Marine Protected Area
Baelde, P. (1990) Differences in the infrastructures of fish assemblages in Thalassia testudinum beds in Guadaloupe, French West Indies, and their ecological significance. Marine Biology 105, 163-173
& Rooker, J.R., and Dennis, G.D. (1991) Diel, Lunar, and seasonal changes in a mangrove fish assemblage off southwestern Puerto Rico. Bulletin of Marine Science 49 (3): 684-698
Robblee, M.B., and Zieman, J.C. (1984) Diel variation in the fish fauna of a tropical seagrass feeding ground. Bulletin of Marine Science 34(3), 335-345
& Arrivillaga, A. and D.M. Baltz (1999) Comparison of fishes and macroinvertebrates on seagrass and bare-sand sites on Guatamalais Atlantic Coast. Bulletin of Marine Science. 65(2) 301-319
Bahamas Journal of Science, Bimini Special Issue. Volume 9, No. 2 May, 2002
Bimini Bay Resort and Casino brochure
The Nassau Tribune - Feb. 12, 2004