West Indies

View of Great Guana Cay from a nearby cay in the Bahamas Island group known as the Abaco Islands.

PHOTO: A sandy bank points out at Great Guana Cay in the late evening. Travel photography by Erik Gauger.

Eyes of the West Indies

On the Bahamian island of Great Guana Cay, locals prepare to battle a golf course development they say will destroy their coral reef and their way of life.

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Bakers Bay

I am on a boat, tied to a dock in a bay on the tiny island of Great Guana Cay in the Northern Bahamas. Troy Albury is untying lines and points out a Caribbean reef squid taking shelter under the dock.

These animals, hued in purple and electric orange, can be difficult to spot during the day, their bodies are brilliant but translucent.

The mark of a good divemaster is observation - the ability to notice everything. But I am not here to dive with Mr. Albury. When I was young, I dove and snorkeled Great Guana Cay's reef for eight years. But not with Troy. Back then, we were both teenagers, and Troy lived in Nassau, several islands south of the Abaco Islands.

Troy, like many islanders on Great Guana Cay, works barefoot. His t-shirt is frayed at the edges, and his hands are stained faintly with motor grease. A part for one of his boat engines just failed, and so he flew to Miami and bought two tickets for the return flight. One for him, one for the part. Troy works tirelessly at his job. Being the divemaster on the island of Great Guana Cay is an important one; diving is central to the economy of this island, for Great Guana Cay holds what may be the most spectacular reef in the Bahamas.

As we ferry across the small bay, Troy explains the difficulties of maintaining the dive season and the fight against the Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club at the same time. As President of Save Guana Cay Reef, Troy has become a central figure in one of the most controversial environmental battles in the history of the West Indies.