14th November 2009
Reality sometimes exceeds expectations, sometimes it does not.
When Helford River diver and expert photographer, Tony Sutton was invited by the Bahamas Tourist Board to dive on the reefs of this Caribbean Archipelago his feelings of good luck and expectations were, not surprisingly, high. Likewise, his audience of Helford River supporters, who, braving the frost, gathered at Mawgan Village Hall expecting to escape in, if only in their imaginations, visions of blue tropical waters, multi-coloured corals and fish of innumerable shapes and sizes.
The introduction was promising. Fabulous hotels and tourist facilities. Climate perfect and the sea very, very blue.
First day out was the dolphin experience. Who can resist the grace and intelligence of these playful animals? The dolphins live on pools near the hotel – not exactly ‘farmed’ but not really free. They are ‘produced’ to order into the tourist pool so that visitors can admire their routines and bond with them. It did seem that their movements were somewhat habituated and, worryingly, Tony thought that their noses seemed to have suffered from much patting by human hands.
The next day, a shark encounter in the open sea – that will be better! The diving party were taken out beyond the harbour and seated on the sea floor. Fishy material was then cast about and sure enough the reef sharks appeared to order cruising gracefully about and snapping up the bait. To most tourists this would be the highlight of the Bahama marine experience but to our Tony, hoping for visions of diverse wildlife on a pristine coral reef it fell well short of what he had hoped to see.
It seems that over-fishing, industry (they make a lot of cement there) and sea temperature rise may have taken their toll of the coastal marine life. Doubtless most tourists would have marvelled at what was on show but to Tony a different concern weighed on his mind, namely the wording of his report to the Bahama Board of Tourism!