As Jamaicans retreated to their homes because of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the environment responded. Over the following months reports started coming in from around the world about clearer waterways, better air quality and more wildlife sightings. In Jamaica, our beaches have had a break from being host to human activities such as fishing, sunbathing, parties and games.
In Discovery Bay, St Ann the closure of places of amusement resulted in captive dolphins being removed from a facility in the bay in March 2020. Our community beach management partners in the area report that clearer water and more schools of fish have been observed as a result. Wild dolphins have also not been seen in the bay as frequently.
Discovery Bay, St Ann (March 2020)
Rae Town Fishing Village in Kingston reports the harbour being clearer than usual since March 2020. Some of these changes might be because of reduced movement of people and economic activity in Kingston. The drought Jamaica has been experiencing over the past few weeks may also play a factor, which is keeping the garbage in Kingston’s gullies from washing to the sea. Whatever the reason, fishermen welcome the change.
Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth reports that more bird life has been observed in the area since the closure of Jamaica’s borders due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The pace of life in the area has changed, resulting from less tourist activity. More birds are being seen on beaches since they are no longer being driven away or disturbed by humans.
Great Bay, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth (May 2020)
Bluefields, Westmoreland has observed a reduction in the amount of garbage washing into the mangroves in and around Belmont Fishing Beach. The Bluefields Bay Fishermans Friends Society conducted a beach cleanup in that area in February 2020, before the outbreak of the virus. During the cleanup activity, a great deal of garbage was removed from the mangroves including plastic bottles, food packaging and large appliances. Since then it has been observed that significantly less garbage has returned to the beach.
Belmont Fishing Beach, Bluefields, Westmoreland (May 2020)
The changes on our beaches since the COVID-19 outbreak highlight the impact human activities have on our surroundings. As beaches reopen, now is the time to consider how we can permanently adopt some of the changes in our behaviour which have had a positive impact on the environment. The world has changed, and the environment responded.