There are a few places left on the planet imbued with such awe-inspiring beauty that all of humanity might legitimately assert a claim to their unspoiled preservation. One of them is Lighthouse Point on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, about 275 miles east of Palm Beach.
The site is home to endangered coral reefs and serves as a critical passageway for marine life, including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and commercially important groupers and bonefish that migrate between the Atlantic Ocean and the Exuma Sound.
Lighthouse Point is an out-of-the-way treasure, with hidden caves, a blush sand beach, and turquoise waters. CNN calls it one of this extraordinary island’s three “showstopping sights.” The 18,000 acres of ocean around Lighthouse Point are so biologically rich that they have been formally proposed to be designated as a Marine Protected Area.
But Lighthouse Point and the surrounding seas are now in danger, and if this were a movie, The Walt Disney Co. would be the villain.
Disney is rushing ahead with plans to bring as many as 1 million visitors a year to this fragile natural treasure by transforming it into a $250 million private cruise ship port. A half-mile-long pier will trample Lighthouse Point’s magical coral reefs and vulnerable sea beds.
Disney has already begun preliminary preparations at the site, without completing an environmental impact assessment, which should examine alternative sites and fully consider the environmental harms.
As the Bahamas copes with the growing challenges of rising seas, changing climate, and fiercer and more frequent storms, the need to protect Lighthouse Point and the surrounding proposed maritime sanctuary is more urgent than ever.
Since last spring, Waterkeeper Alliance has worked with five leading Bahamian environmental groups, the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, Save the Bays, ReEarth, EARTHCARE, and Waterkeepers Bahamas, to urge Disney to change course at Lighthouse Point.
Already 250,000 people have signed our Last Chance for Lighthouse Point petition—100,000 since the start of the year. We have just launched a new petition appealing to Disney’s Chairman Bob Iger to find another site for Disney’s cruise ships.
There is still an opportunity at Lighthouse Point for Disney and The Bahamas to show real environmental leadership with a win-win-win solution.
Disney is the World’s most iconic, powerful, and influential storyteller. Let’s work together to write a different ending to this horror movie—one with a happy ending. Let’s make Lighthouse
Point a beacon of hope for The Bahamas, our oceans, and humanity’s future.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is the President of Waterkeeper Alliance. Marc Yaggi is the organization’s executive director.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.