Fifty-five participants in the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) got up close and personal with a little-known national treasure, the Moriah Cay National Park in Exuma, and played a hand in preserving the protected area, rich in biodiversity.
Established as a national park in 2002, Moriah’s boundaries were expanded in 2015 to nearly 23,000 acres of pristine beaches, blue holes, coral reefs, mangrove creeks, coppice forests and seagrass meadows. The site sustains vibrant populations of endangered corals, sea turtles, conch, lobster, grouper, birds, and sharks. It borders the communities of Rolle Town, Hartswell, The Ferry, The Cottage and Forbes Hill.
Ideal for recreation, education and inspiration, Moriah Harbour Cay National Park serves up breathtaking views and boasts the crystal-clear waters for which The Bahamas is known. It provides opportunities for kayaking, snorkelling, kiteboarding, bonefishing, hiking and photography.
While attending the Bahamas Award Super Expedition (BASE) 2022 in Exuma this month, GGYA’s Gold participants helped to construct a new cross island nature trail from East Mariah Harbor Cay to West Moriah Harbour Cay for their residential project which, among other objectives, aims to provide young people with a sense of personal achievement as well as an enhanced social connection to a community.
Silver participants cleared the trail to the old ferry dock and assisted with trail upkeep at The Ferry Welcome Center site. Meantime, those at the Bronze level carried out a major clean-up of the ramp, road and shoreline from the Ferry Bridge to Turquoise Cay.
“The natural beauty of The Bahamas is a very important jewel. It’s something we should preserve and protect. Just by cleaning up one national park which serves that purpose, I feel we made a big contribution to the cause,” said Hanna Edomwonyi, a Silver level participant who attends Bishop Michael Eldon School in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
“One person is capable of doing way more than they could imagine. A lot of us neglect our responsibilities as citizens of The Bahamas. We feel like one person can’t make a difference. Being a part of this service project made me feel like I could make a difference to the benefit of The Bahamas.”
Moriah Harbour Cay National Park has largely flown under the public’s radar. It’s not well-known outside of Exuma. It only recently became an actively managed park in 2020, when staff was brought onboard.
With the site and its trails freshened up, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), which manages the country’s national park system, hopes to commence field trips for students in the fall.
“We got a lot accomplished in terms of the trail work and the clean-up,” said Catherine Booker, BNT’s Exuma programme coordinator.
“We hoped that students gained a better appreciation that national parks are not only a place for nature but for people as well. The Bahamas National Trust wants to make a positive impact in our community in addition to taking care of the environment.”
The experience left a lasting impression on Jaymie Mackey, a Bronze participant from the 23rd Company of Boys’ Brigade.
“I wanted to join the Bahamas National Trust since a visit to Bonefish Pond National Park in southwest New Providence. Even though Exuma isn’t my island, it is a part of The Bahamas and I wanted to help out. We pride ourselves on keeping our areas clean. We have to live on these islands we shouldn’t mess it up.”