The largest concentration of seahorses in the world is now protected! On September 7, the Government of The Bahamas and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) announced that Sweetings Pond is officially a Seahorse National Park. This designation comes at a huge feat for the islands of the Bahamas, as the lagoon of Eleuthera is home to many distinctive populations of unique species. Sweetings Pond is a landlocked, saltwater pond within Hatchet Bay, and has been globally known for its wondrous population of seahorses, many species of which are threatened. This is believed to be the world’s densest population of seahorses. The new national park runs 548 acres protecting the mile-long pond, surrounding the terrain and Hatchet Bay Caves system.
“This lease agreement for Sweetings Pond has been a long time coming. It represents a milestone in our journey towards sustainable development. It symbolizes our collective responsibility to safeguard our natural heritage and create a harmonious relationship between economic progress and environmental preservation,” stated Minister Clay Sweeting.
This feat finally comes at a strong time after years of local avocation for the protection of Sweetings Pond and the surrounding areas. The efforts were strongly pushed by the BNT and its partners, furthering the protection of not only the sought after seahorses, but the other creatures that they live amongst. The BNT plans to continue working with its partners, the Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corps, local farmers and Eleuthera-based stakeholders to develop and initiate development strategies for the Seahorse National Park. The initiatives are outlined to include: park infrastructure, amenities and facilities for public use, as well as recreation, education and entrepreneurial programs. The BNT hopes to develop a science-based ecotourism plan that supports local businesses, while devoting their efforts to conserving the park’s resources.
“Today’s lease signing is the pinnacle of a decade-long effort to protect Sweetings Pond. The declaration of Seahorse National Park is more than just a designation; it is our shared promise to our community, to future generations, and to the world that we are committed to conserving our unique and diverse ecosystems for the benefit of all Bahamians,” stated BNT Executive Director, Lakeshia Anderson-Rolle.
Image by: shanegrossphoto