Marine Life and Ocean Conservation in the DR

marine life in the dominican republic

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 Pollution

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.

FUNDEMAR

The Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies (FUNDEMAR) is an NGO that works on protecting and conserving Dominican marine life.

Based on rigorous scientific research, FUNDEMAR spreads the word on sustainable uses of marine resources and ecosystems. They run projects to conserve endangered marine life, including working to restore coral reefs around the shores of the DR.

Check out FUNDEMAR’s website for more info and details on how you can get involved in their awesome work.

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy’s work in the Dominican Republic includes promoting sustainable fishing practices, helping establish protected marine areas, and preserving coral reefs and mangroves.

Educational seminars on sustainable fishing are essential to prevent the depletion of fish stocks around the island. Fishing is how many Dominicans support themselves and their families, so it is imperative that it is carried out with long-term viable methods.

The Conservancy collaborates with local communities to raise awareness about invasive lionfish and the dangers they pose to marine ecosystems. Parrotfish, on the other hand, are to be protected as they are key maintainers of the coral reef.

Parley for the Ocean

Parley is a group of environmental activists who are making it their mission to draw attention to ocean pollution by plastic.

This summer, they were working in the DR, near Santo Domingo. They made international news when they relieved the ocean of thirty tons of plastic waste in just three days. Parley have been collaborating with the local navy, military and city council, and are encouraging public workers to get involved in the clean up. More than 500 so far have been recruited for the project. Follow this link for info on how you can get involved in the DR.

Their goal is in the name: they want a ‘Parley for the Ocean’, a truce to be reached between mankind and nature’s biggest ecosystem. They believe consumers and creative industries have the responsibility to push change for the benefit of the environment.

Here’s a snippet from their website:

‘To succeed, we need to find ways to synchronize the economic system of humankind with the ecosystem of nature. And make environmental protection fiscally lucrative for pacesetting major companies.

Parley has been created to accelerate a process of change that is already in progress. No other big movement in the history of humankind has developed faster than the environmental cause.

We want to make sure we are fast enough to meet the ultimate deadline and turn the ship around before we lose a treasure we have only just started to explore and still don’t fully understand: the fantastic blue universe beneath us — The Ocean.’

Parley has an A.I.R. strategy that they hope will cause people to think more carefully about plastic:

Avoid plastic where possible

Intercept plastic waste

Redesign the material itself

Check our their very cool website for loads of resources and information.

We have masses of natural beauty to be grateful for in the Dominican Republic. The ocean provides life and energy to visitors, and a livelihood for many locals.

The wave of plastic sends a terrible but clear message: We cannot go on abusing the ocean. Something has to change.

At eXtreme, we have worked hard to become a nearly entirely self-sustainable eco-hotel. We are trying to do our bit to use resources efficiently and contribute minimal waste.

Before coming to Cabarete, please take a look at Your Caribbean Eco Trip: What to Pack for some local tips and tricks to minimise your environmental impact.

Your adventure holiday will not be affected, I promise. You can sip mojitos through your reusable straw on the beach guilt-free, knowing that you’ve done your bit to help the ocean and the precious marine life beneath the surface.

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