basic in the water survival skills,” said Rashema Ingraham, Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director.
Both programs, she said, help prepare people to enjoy the waters safely.
“When Bahamians start swimming in open waters at a young age, they develop confidence but just as importantly, they develop an appreciation for the beauty of the underwater world and all the marine life that they would never see up close and personal otherwise,” said Ingraham.
Joe Darville, Save The Bays Chairman and Grand Bahama Coastal Waterkeeper agreed.
“Being in the water with fish, conch, crawfish, with sponges and corals and grasses, gives all of us a deeper respect for and a better understanding of the need to preserve marine life,” said Darville. “That commitment to preserve complements the goals of Waterkeepers Alliance to make as much of the world’s water as possible fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”
According to YMCA Director Karon Pinder-Johnson, more than 10,000 people in Grand Bahama – nearly one-fourth of the island’s population – have participated in the SOS learn to swim program in the eight years of its existence and this year she is hoping that more teachers will participate. The program is free of charge and open to students of all schools in Grand Bahama.
“This is a perfect example of a community pulling together, one non-profit helping another to achieve a common goal – appreciating the beauty of our waters and making it safe for more people to enjoy them,” said Ingraham.
Founded in 1999 by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance patrols rivers, bays, lakes and oceans on six continents. Kennedy was in The Bahamas in 2013 to help launch the Conchservation initiative and present The Bahamas with its first Waterkeeper license. Since then, the country has gained two more and volunteers monitor the waters and file reports in three areas of the northern Bahamas.