Sunday, September 15, 2013

Managaha: Full of Mostly Dead Coral

A visitor from Japan recently wrote of Managaha, "it's full of mostly dead coral."

This is disappointing, but hardly surprising.  For years the warning sirens have been going off on the need to better manage the natural resources of Managaha.  I remember a letter to the editor from a visitor published in 2006:
Destruction of coral reefs
I visited Saipan last week and would like to tell you about my experiences. I am from Germany but am living in Japan now. All in all I had a very good time and was very impressed by Saipan’s natural beauty. I especially enjoyed visiting Managaha and the great snorkeling around the island.

But one thing made me sad and quite worried: I saw dozens of tourists stepping on the corals with their fins, so that actual pieces broke away. I could hardly believe my eyes! I think it is not only unbelievably sad to destroy the reefs’ fragile structures but, at the same time, this means a slow destruction of the financial resources of the island. Many tourists love snorkeling around the coral gardens that are close to the shore, so the intact reefs are not only a natural wonder but also an important source of revenue for Saipan. Once they’re gone, the island will become much less attractive for visitors from all over the world.

Also, I saw several tourists feeding the fish with hotdogs. I think this is problematic as well as it goes on day after day. Sausage is not an adequate diet for the fish, and the feeding affects their behavior in an unnatural way. They start to swarm around people and even attack them. The tourists should be taught to respect the reefs and animals more and watch them in their natural environment and behavior. The boat trip to Managaha would be an excellent opportunity to show a video or make the visitors listen to a tape that explains and informs them about the reefs’ uniqueness and fragility. And the DOS and DON’TS when snorkeling. Both the tourists and the submarine wildlife would take great advantage of that.

Susanne Prein
Nagano City, Japan

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