Bocas a natural paradise help us keep it that wayDecember 19, 2017
It is December, the heat and the waves come hand by hand to welcome the new season, and as every year thousands of people come to the islands in search of peace, perfect beaches, wild nature … Bocas offers to each one whatever it´s need.
And how can it be otherwise, everyone here welcomes all our visitors with enthusiasm, but not before remembering the importance of care and protection of each corner of the archipelago. In this sense, it is worth highlighting the work that SFS (The School for Field Studies) has been doing for several years at its Center for Biodiversity Studies in the Tropical Islands, located on Isla Colón.
This center, based in different countries around the world, carries out programs oriented to the study and conservation of the habitat in which we live. In Bocas del Toro we have one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, but at the same time it is also one of the most fragile, and therefore extreme care is necessary. With SFS, every year dozens of students come to participate in these programs and develop different studies and strategies for the care and conservation of this wonderful corner of the world. Specifically, some of the projects carried out by the students of this last year have been related to the health of the coral reefs and mangroves, the biodiversity of the forests in Bocas del Toro, the understanding of how the fishing practices have changed with time, and finally, the impact that tourism is having on the islands.
We had the opportunity to talk with the director of the center, Dr. Cinda Scott and discuss some recommendations and best practices when visiting or living in Bocas del Toro.
“It is important that tourists in particular are aware that they are on an island with limited resources. We must all be aware that the marine environment of Bocas is extremely fragile and the way we interact with it must be very careful,” the doctor said.
It is imperative to remember that actions such as touching corals, or starfish, are extremely damaging to these living organisms. Even the use of certain sunscreens causes these organisms to die or become sick. For this reason, it is recommended to use products that are free of chemicals that affect corals and marine organisms, and when you are enjoying these wonderful beings, always have in mind that it is totally forbidden to touch them. In Bocas there are different establishments where you can find natural products for the prevention of bites, sunscreens … that besides being healthier, do not harm the environment, so do not hesitate to take a look at the local shops, there you will find all these products.
Dr. Scott also wanted to highlight the care we should have with overfishing. “For several decades, it has severely depleted many species in the region”
For example, there are times when eating lobster is fine, as it is now in December, but lobster fishing is prohibited from March 1 to June 30, and we should all be aware of this.
“Tourists and locals must also know that the lionfish is delicious and that by eating it, they are helping to eliminate these invasive species from our local reefs. When available, please ask for lionfish! “Cinda recommends. In this way you will prevent this species from continuing to destroy and destroying other fish that are indigenous to our waters.
“In addition, tourists should refrain from buying plastic bottles. Instead, they can easily refill a reusable bottle at many of the city’s water filling stations. Everyone should be aware that here in Bocas, garbage is taken to the garbage dump and subsequently burned, thus doing great damage to the environment. Therefore, carrying a reusable water bottle is the most intelligent and ecological way to travel. In addition to bringing your own water bottle, it is also important to consider the use of metal reeds. Everyone, whether they visit or live in Bocas, can simply say “Sin Carrizo Por Favor” when they ask for a drink in a restaurant. There are many shops in the city that have joined this initiative, and have eliminated the use of reeds. “This type of actions help the islands to be a cleaner and more responsible place with the environment and above all they promote the care and ecosystem conservation.
Another project that we would like to mention, and in relation to plastic bottles is the “Plastic Bottle Village” and that since the first day of this month, has started a very interesting initiative. They have created some stickers (carbon footprint sticker), that any visitor or local can acquire and put them in their plastic bottles. In this way, each bottle that we have or we find with the carbon footprint sticker can be later exchanged for food products in Supermarket Toto, 4th Street, Isla Colón. That is, each bottle with one of these stickers will have a value of 0.05 cents, so anyone who, for example, collect 50 bottles with stickers can purchase up to $ 2.50 in food products.
This will give families the opportunity to obtain food and, for the same reason, educate them about recycling and create an incentive to look for plastic bottles with stickers that they will take to the TOTO supermarket to exchange for food. Plastic Bottle Village hopes that visitors to the island will obtain these stickers to use and deliver them to the less fortunate families who will look for plastic bottles to apply and exchange them.
From Bocasdeltoro.com we want to point out the importance of the conservation of the environment and of the place where we live, therefore we consider it of the utmost importance that we develop it in a sustainable way and always respecting the nature that surrounds us.