Marine protected area

Objective

Objective:  to create a small Preserve area, about the size of 3 football fields (300' by 900') so as to not take away a "local fishing area" of any size, but large enough to do a field study with local high school students doing monthly fish counts and coral re-birth documentation demonstrating how a coral reef can thrive if there is no harvesting of marine life.

Plan

The plan is to recruit 8-10 high school students each year from the High Schools in Palmetto Point, Windermere, Rock Sound and Deep Creek who would venture out to the Marine Protected Area once a month and take pictures of the coral and do fish counts. Ocean Fox Cotton Bay would provide all of the necessary equipment, supervision and transportation to the reef for the High School students. In exchange the students would prepare a science paper documenting the changes in the reef, identifying the various species of fish, coral and other marine creatures found on the reef environment during a 12 month period in conjunction with their science class teachers.

Implementation

We would work together with the local community to promote the concept of Marine Protected Areas as a way to preserve the delicate marine life balance on the reef. Having a Marine Protected area benefits the fishermen as the area works as a breeding ground, and it benefits the community, as snorkeling and diving tourists love to visit protected or preserve areas. We would use this as a demonstration project for Eleuthera in the hopes that the documented success in one area would motivate the community to develop marine protected areas in other Settlements to encourage more tourism on Eleuthera.

This would, ultimately, provide snorkel or dive sites that could be reached from shore, called shore diving, which we do not have anywhere on the island at this time. Settlements like Rock Sound, Governor’s Harbour and Gregory Town, for example, could benefit greatly from protected areas accessible from shore. Additionally, these other protected areas would provide fish and coral breeding grounds to benefit local fishing in the other Settlements where implemented.

Area proposed for Preservation

The body of water on the South end of Eleuthera is called Exuma Sound, which is a tongue of the Atlantic bound by Exuma on the West, Eleuthera on the North and Cat Island to the East. From the Southeast tip of Eleuthera (Lighthouse Beach) to the Northwest tip at Cape Eleuthera is approximately 22 miles along the wall. Blackbeard's Treasure Hole is the best shallow reef on the entire coast of South Eleuthera, with the top of the reef near the boiling hole at 12’ and off the reef a depth of about 35-40’.

There are at least 26 different species of coral on Blackbeard's Treasure Hole. Excellent, healthy and thriving species, which if we could restore some of the fish balance would be even more vibrant and would rebuild the food source for the marine life. Part of the reason is the boiling hole itself, which provides cold clean water to the reef system twice a day as the tide on the Atlantic side of the Island begins to rise about an hour and a half before the tide starts to rise on the south end of Eleuthera.

This tidal event pushes water under the island and up through the boiling hole, which is an entrance to a vast network of limestone caverns below sea level.

Supporters

Supporters: If you would like to support our proposed project, we ask that you sign the support sheet attached, which we will from time to time forward to the Government Body on Eleuthera as well as to the Government of the Bahamas. If you would like to receive updates on our progress, please provide your email or you can go to our blog site and subscribe to receive notice of new blog posts. Thanks for your interest and support.