Here in the Bahamas, the type of plant that creates the densely tangled subaquatic forests is the red mangrove tree. The complex interlocking root system that dips in the saltwater forms an environment - though detested by tropical developers - that is one of Earth's most essential ecosystems. Only in the last 10 years, with catastrophes like the Boxer Day Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, have nations begun to take seriously these strange forests that have literally evolved into a platform as the bulwark of land against sea; and at the same time, protectors of the sea.
The mangrove forest protects small islands from devastation in violent storms, but also filters out nutrients from land to sea - their existence is vital as nursery and liver to the coral reef.
The Joe's Creek outflow creates a shallow whitewater lagoon; full-sized bonefish parade this water. Great Guana Cay is not a bonefisherman's destination, but for years casual bonefishers would fly their lines in the water. According to a local, "Earlier today, a pair motored up to the Joe's Creek flats. A Bakers Bay boat appeared, circled them, and commanded them to leave. This water is public property, no construction is taking place anywhere near Joe's Creek."
I said, "That doesn't sound legal."
"There are no police here, Bakers Bay can do as they please. They act like they own the island."
The Joe's Creek area, which sits on Crown and Treasury Land, will be saved the bulldozer. But the total mangrove acreage preserved is absurdly small; the majority of the mangrove forest has been gutted in the rush of opening up the new marina by later this year. Continuation of construction of the marina, and the further destruction of the mangroves, is one ingredient in the recipe for the coral reef's demise.
In 2005, Bakers Bay Club was producing pamphlets that stated, "Contrary to prevalent rumors, Joe's Creek, the mangroves and the Guana Cay bonefish flats will all be preserved and not altered by development." Guana locals were enraged, because as Bakers Bay was distributing this material to prospective clients, they were tearing down mangroves.
I was asking myself, how can this be? How can they say that? It was one of my first lessons about the aggressive marketing tactics of golf developers. I would soon learn that words and money could indeed erase facts.