Bimini: Islands in the Stream
Bimini are small isles in the Bahamas, a world renowned travel destination famous for its rich productive sea, which was the inspiration for Earnest Hemingway’s novels, such as The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream. Tourism has long been a major industry in the Bimini since the 20’s, contributing largely to the economic growth of these islands. In addition to sustaining the economy in tourism and fishing industries, the productive marine ecosystems of the Bimini, especially the mangroves ecosystem, also provide critical habitats for countless fauna, which contribute largely to the biological diversity and abundance of the Bahamas and beyond. As the only mangroves habitat in the entire Western Bahamas bank, the mangrove forest of Bimini serves as a home and nursery ground to a large diversity of marine life, including a variety of shark species and their relatives, making it a famous location for shark research. Despite the ecological, social and economic importance of the mangroves of Bimini has long been known, backed by scientific evidences, the mangrove forest of the Bimini is far from being protected, and currently being threatened by a destructive developmental project on the islands. With the ongoing large-scale resort development and construction of its infrastructure to accommodate mass tourism in these small islands, the fragile and productive marine ecosystems of the Bimini are at risk of being decimated. On the other hand, scientists and local environmental activists on Bimini have been working in their own way in order to preserve the remaining important ecosystems, which are not only critical for maintaining the biological richness, but also the economy and livelihood of the people in this region.