The Dominican Republic is a country rich in tropical fauna and flora. The island relies heavily on tourism to grow its economy, but the effects of tourism on the island and its coastline are beginning to show.
For this reason, conservation and ecological repair are very important to the DR. How many tourists do you think would sun themselves on a beach full of plastic bottles and rubbish?
Marine life is of special significance in the DR. The country is proud of the humpback whale migration spectacle that occurs every year in Samana, on the northeasterly coast. Around 3,000 humpback whales come to Silver Bank (Banco de Plata) to breed and calve between January and March.
The area of Banco de Plata y de la Navidad is a 650-square-mile protected marine wildlife sanctuary, and has been so since 1986. It was the first of its kind in the Caribbean, making the DR conservation pioneers in this part of the world.
A lot more needs to be done to maintain the natural balance and redress the damage done to the ocean’s ecological health by humans.
Plastic poses a major threat to the stability and longevity of marine life. The DR is not yet up to speed on its recycling and waste treatment infrastructure. Broadly, there is no widespread recycling practiced, and there is a lot of single-use plastic straws, packaging and bags.
You’ll also see lots of travel-sized bottles of shampoo and oils at the supermarket. As the locals’ incomes are low, they often can’t afford to buy the bigger bottle which is cheaper and less packaging per unit of product. So, they instead consume in tiny bottles, meaning a lot of plastic waste.
It’s not their fault, they don’t have a choice, but it is a huge issue for the ocean. Just look at this wave of plastic off the coast of Santo Domingo. It’s crazy.
The good news is that there are several international and domestic groups working to protect the beautiful ocean in the DR.