The oceans surrounding Barbados are a paradise of their own.
If you doubt that, just ask anyone who dives among its reefs and shipwrecks or swims with the turtles and fish.
Marine biologist André Miller is one of those people. He said the sea was one of his true loves.
“I grew up on Brighton Beach and every given chance I would be in the water. See those dark spots in the sea? I was always curious about what was under the surface so when I got my first mask and flippers, I was hooked and that questing feeling is still there and I have passed that on to my children,” he said.
The road was not smooth, however, as his father thought a marine biologist was a “glorified beach bum” and instead pressured him into medicine. But after earning a degree in a United States college in pre-med, he realised that was not for him.
“I returned to Barbados and attended the University of the West Indies where I got a master’s in natural resource management with a specialty in coral transplantation. Now I am also a dive instructor and the owner of the Barbados Blue dive shop,” he said.
Miller said diving and marine biology worked well together as he could not only talk about the sea but show people as well, something which comes in handy when he wanted to show people one of his biggest concerns.
“There are things like climate change Barbados cannot alter but there are other things we can do such as establish more marine parks. In Barbados, you can fish 99 per cent of the coastline and shoot all the small fish off the reef and there is no law to stop you. What we need are a series of protected areas around Barbados, such as Carlisle Bay, but it seems the only sea animal protected out there is the sea egg.
“The more Barbadians we can educate and take out there, then that is another convert. The majority of Barbados’ wildlife is in the ocean but so many of us are born and die on this island and don’t realise we have an ecological treasure chest just offshore,” he said.
Nick Parker operates more above the sea than below it. He has either been working on or at the helm of a ship for more than 30 years.
“My father was a merchant marine and general manager of the port or 34 years. When I was 15, I started getting into the coastal cruise business during vacation and then I too went into the merchant marines,” he said.
Parker returned to Barbados in 1982 and got into catamarans. He worked with Tiami Cruises until 2000 when he founded Ocean Adventures followed by Silver Moon luxury catamaran cruises two years later.
As an experienced seaman, Parker said there were a few things which Barbados should address.
“There are no regulations in Barbados which stipulate licensing for captains of boats other than speedboats but with the increase of catamaran traffic, there should be. We should have a school here where you can get certified; it would make the industry more professional,” he said.
Another concern is mooring and berthing. He said there was a need for more of them given the state of Barbados’ weather patterns.
“In the winter season, the shallow draught can get so rough; we have to beg for berths in the careenage and when the careenage rough, vice versa. We need a safe harbour and more moorings in the marine parks as well,” he said.
For more than 30 years, Peter Grannum has been in love with Barbados – its oceans and its people. He said there were no more beautiful people than Barbadians.
“There is no better place than Barbados, the island is beautiful and the people are beautiful. The ocean has been my thing since I knew myself and have been involved in water sports since I was 19 – I’m now 52. I started with surfing, then I got into diving as a trainee,” he said.
Grannum worked at several places before opening West Side Scuba Centre. He said his greatest desire was to see the west coast get a sewerage system just like the south coast.
“The reefs along the south coast are getting better since the sewerage project. They need to do the sewerage project on the west coast as well, that will help save the fringe reefs,” he said.
Like Miller, Grannum said overfishing was a problem and asked people to leave the smaller fish alone to repopulate.