By Lucy Chabot Reed
Yacht crew all over the world have found interesting and creative ways to make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
In the Bahamas, Mate/Engr. Paul Nelson and Stew Fiona Last of the 81-foot (24.5m) M/Y Equinox started diving on their marina home about five weeks ago to pick up litter. Based year-round at Bay Street Marina in Nassau, they have removed heaps of debris and watched fish and wildlife flourish.
“The marina is usually a very busy place, and this has been a really unique time to get in the water to clean it up,” said Nelson, who is also the 81-foot (24m) charter yacht’s dive instructor. “If you walk around a marina in the Bahamas, you can see the bottom, and it doesn’t take long to pick up the very visible debris and make a difference.”
The 81-foot Cheoy Lee is available for charter and the crew are used to doing spontaneous and unusual things. So as soon as the boating traffic stopped in the marina, they knew they had to do something.
“We started off by picking up big bits, and then we’ve gone back and picked up crates and crates of smaller bits, and pretty soon we don’t see those odd shapes under the sand,” Nelson said. “When you’ve been around the water a while, you notice the unnatural shapes.”
The marina staff have helped bring the debris up onto the dock and disposed of properly, they said.
“The marina is a lot cleaner simply because of the lack of boats moving around,” Last said. “We wanted to share the photos of the sealife to remind everyone that they are down there. Even when you think a marina is a commercial place and it’s OK to dump your trash, there’s lots of sea life below the surface.”
And although they snapped some photos of troublesome lionfish in the marina, both Nelson and Last were quick to point out that because of the current, lionfish don’t find much food in the marina, and the locals have been active in harvesting adult fish in the surrounding waters.
“Our ocean environment is a subject very close to our hearts and as this is really the first time no boats have been moving, we wanted to take advantage,” Last wrote in an email, sharing these photos. “We have photographed most weeks, and as the lockdown has continued other crew members have joined us and helped.”
Their efforts are shared on their Instagram page, Motoryacht.Equinox. And Nelson credits two groups for inspiring his environmental efforts: Project Aware from PADI, and Tangaroa Blue Foundation.
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.