“Nature has blessed us with wealth untold,” wrote Samuel Haynes in our National Anthem. Some of the things he was thinking of when he wrote those words are our mangrove islands. We have a great many of them, at least five times the number of our cayes. The mangroves are more valuable than silver and gold. Here’s why.
They filter the silt from the river waters, which rush into the sea, retaining a lot of that silt which would otherwise land on our precious Barrier Reef. They protect us from the heavy winds and high waves of storms and hurricanes and, they are the nurseries for small fish, which are the beginning of the food chain. Something else. They are the natural home of mosquitos.
Of what use are mosquitos, you ask. All they do is spread malaria, dengue and yellow fever and bite you in places not covered by clothes. Why were they ever be brought into the world? Wouldn’t it be better if all the mosquitos were collected in one place and exterminated by a horde of sanitary engineers, bearing spray cans filled with DDT and malathion? Hooray. What a wonderful world it would be without mosquitos. Now, you can sit on your verandah in the evening and watch the birds flying home, or the sunset, or anything else that pleases you, without these da…d pesky mosquitos. Stop right there. What if I told you that mosquitos can be very useful?
I have a better idea to deal with mosquitos. Let’s collect them all and take them to a place where they can do the most good.
Put them in the mangroves, where, after their short life span, they can drop down dead and become tasty morsels for the little fish.
It has become the practice for land developers who want to make a caye, to cut down the mangrove and fill the area it occupied with sand dredged from the surrounding shallow water. That is a terrible waste. It is destroying our patrimony. Also. There is a better way to make a caye.
You can build your caye from the same sand fill dredged from around the mangrove island and, locate it in a position where the prevailing winds will blow the mosquitos away from you.
Here’s how. Build a low wall, three feet high or less. Fill it up with sand, starting from the middle sloping towards the sides. You can build your caye to your own specifications but, please leave the mangroves alone.
This idea came from a friend who is blest with an imagination and the capacity to think things through. I hope that he will be pleased to have his idea come to life.