Eco Tips for Caribbean Trips

Respect the unique marine environment

Though most folks no longer litter carelessly or think of the sand as a giant ashtray, there are still many garbage issues affecting coastal resort beaches.  Aruba’s Castro Perez began as a self-appointed custodian of the coral reefs some 17 years ago when he noticed so much garbage suffocating the dive sites. He says, “Though I have found many odd things underwater, plastic is truly the bane of marine life. Plastic bags and plastic cups kill creatures. Sea turtles think that plastic bags are jellyfish-- their favourite snack-- and choke on them. And those plastic rings that hold cans together are deadly for all kinds of marine life.” Castro founded Aruba’s annual Reef Cleanup that now attracts hundreds of participants, both locals and visitors alike. You can help by joining community beach and reef clean up events. Check the tourism website event calendars of your destination to see if you will be there during one of them. And when on the beaches, bring reusable cloth bags and avoid using plastic cups from the beach bars. Use refillable containers instead of purchasing bottled water. Even when they are thrown in the trash, the wind often picks them up and sends them into the waves. Another deadly leave behind is batteries! Acid leeches out of them and eventually gets into the ground and sea. Take your used batteries home to dispose of them properly.

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Leave seashells alone. Often a seashell- though no longer a home for the original creature- has become a home for another animal like a hermit crab. Removing the shells upsets the eco-balance of the beach. And when in the water, never touch coral or kick them with your flippers. They are extremely fragile living creatures built upon the skeletal remains of dead coral which is razor sharp. Touching them literally slices them unto themselves!

Many Caribbean islands are now participating in the Blue Flag program run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) to protect their beaches. Visit: Blue Flag