BREEF marks World Oceans Month with snorkel and beach cleanup

BREEF marks World Oceans Month with snorkel and beach cleanup

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) kicked off its events for World Oceans Month 2023 with a beach cleanup and snorkel on Saunders Beach in Western New Providence.

The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day, observed on June 8, is “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing.”

“The experience has been really good. I was a bit nervous at first, but when I got in I had so much fun in the water,” said Trinity Hanna from Sandilands Primary School.

Sixth-grader, Kaia Lotimore, a Sybil Strachan Primary School student, said that she had been snorkeling with BREEF before and that she loves coming out to these events to learn more about the ocean. 

“The snorkel was just amazing because when we went out there, we saw all kinds of fish inside the rocks and I kept wanting to get inside the rocks, just so I could touch one so it was really fun,” she explained.

Prime Minister Philip Davis has declared June 8 – June 14, 2023 National Ocean Protection Week in recognition of World Oceans Day and in celebration of The Bahamas’ 50th anniversary of independence. 

Within the proclamation, Davis highlighted The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), Waterkeepers Bahamas, Waterkeepers Alliance and partners who are working to protect our oceans.

The proclamation specifically mentioned BREEF’s work empowering Bahamians as environmental stewards, advocating for strong environmental policies and restoring coral reefs. 

University of The Bahamas Eco-Club students formed a beach cleanup team at the World Oceans Month event, collecting data on the types of trash accumulated and the number of items found in each category. 

Youth Climate Ambassador, former BREEF BESS Scholar, and UB Eco-Club member, Ashawnte Russell participated and spoke about the importance of community members safeguarding the ocean.

“We are more connected to the ocean than we sometimes realize. To continue to have such amazing waters, we must take responsibility for them and act as stewards with the willingness and tenacity to express and respect them,” she said. 

Youth Climate Ambassador Ashawnte Russell (L) and UB Environmental Club members (R), collect data from beach cleanup.

Rotaract Club of Nassau Sunset members, Keisha Missik and Charis Swann assisted with student registration. Swann said that supporting sustainable community initiatives that will help others is a part of the organization’s mission. 

“We live here on this beautiful island surrounded by the ocean and water so it’s very important that we conserve it and take care of it,” Swann said.

BREEF Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert says that World Oceans Month and National Ocean Protection Week was the perfect opportunity to welcome newcomers to the snorkeling experience, teaching them more about marine conservation. 

“This month is absolutely essential. Our country is 95% underwater so while we talk about the islands of The Bahamas, really, we are the Ocean of The Bahamas with a few islands popping up,” remarked Mckinney-Lambert.

“We are not just a small island state but a large ocean state, and along with this comes a huge responsibility for protecting the ocean – for the well-being of current and future Bahamians but also for the world.” 

As BREEF celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023, the organization continues to support and encourage individuals in the community to be active in protecting the ocean that sustains our way of life.