Our Environmental Stance:
We live in a special place. Here on St. John, we are fortunate that the Virgin Islands National Park comprises more than half of the island and most of the waters surrounding it. Because of the Park, we still have clean water to swim in, vibrant coral reefs surrounding the island, and protected lands that are safe from future development. But not all of St. John is protected, and there are some real threats to our environment that the Park can’t protect.
All of humankind is connected in some way to the marine environment. Whether you live in Denver or Dominica, our survival on this planet depends upon the survival of our oceans. Unfortunately, all is not well in our oceans or on our islands. From the Caribbean to the South Pacific, our oceans are being threatened by pollution, shoreside development, overfishing, and global warming. Coral bleaching is a fairly recent phenomenon that is linked to the rising of the oceans’ temperatures. We’ve seen evidence of bleaching here in the waters off of St. John. Bleaching episodes occur during the warmest months of the year, usually in August or September. Sometimes the coral can recover from these bleaching episodes when the waters cool off in the winter; sometimes the coral can’t recover.
What are we at Arawak Expeditions doing about all of this? First of all, we are trying to educate our clients to the very real threats to our oceans – not just here in the Caribbean, but worldwide. Secondly, we are doing what we can to clean up the shoreline and the waters here in the Virgin Islands. We have organized and participated in countless beach clean-ups, mangrove clean-ups as well as clean-ups of the offshore cays and we’ve carried off hundreds, and perhaps thousands of pounds of trash and garbage from the beaches, mangroves and waters. Furthermore, we are doing what we can to get involved with other environmental groups. For many years, we have partnered with the Friends of the VI National Park to help raise money for environmental education, natural resource conservation, cultural preservation, scientific research and improvement of Park facilities.
What can you do?
First of all, go out and enjoy the wonders of our oceans. Come kayaking with us in the Virgin Islands, go surfing off a point break near you, or simply go for a stroll along the beach. It’s hard to comprehend that our oceans are in danger if you’ve never put on a mask and snorkel and seen what’s down there. The more time we spend on the ocean, the more we realize how truly connected we are to it. Secondly, educate yourself to the threats of our marine environment. Log onto the Blue Ocean Institute’s website (www.blueocean.org) and read about the perils that face our oceans. Read what you can about global warming and how it affects marine life. Thirdly, get involved with environmental groups. Become a Friend of the VI National Park. Donate to a non-profit environmental group such as the Ocean Conservancy (www.oceanconservancy.org) or join a grass-roots environmental organization that is working to protect a lake, river or waterway near you. Lastly, realize that everyday decisions that you make have an impact on our environment and our oceans. From the type of fish that you buy to the kind of car you choose to drive, almost everything we do affects the future of our planet. Enjoy. Get educated. Get involved. Choose wisely.