Author: Mary Ann Lucking (---.mycingular.net)
Date: 03-03-13 14:40
I just saw your post online regarding jet ski rentals on Culebra and various responses - including those admonishing local "tree huggers". Hard to believe Culebra Anti-Environmentalists exist based on the ecological beauty of this island….but those are those that only see dollar signs.
I am very sad to report that in the last administration the former Secretary of DRNA did in fact issue permits for a jet ski or wave runner rental company on Culebra. To my knowledge and great shame, this is the only tour company our local Tourism Company promotes. For awhile the jet ski rental company promoted themselves as "Eco-Jet Ski Rentals", which I felt personally embarrassing, as many high caliber nature tourists were laughing and photographing these signs....
Many locals that understand ecological issues find this business offensive - which is why so many negative comments on the post.
According to US Coast Guard records, jet skis or wave runners are involved in more boating relating accidents than any other aquatic vehicles. They are designed for fast burst speeds and turns - which threaten shallow coastal water life...like turtles, or those visiting turtles like snorkelers. They absolutely destroy the ambience for beach goers seeking refuge from high profile loud activities like this that have despoiled other areas, like Cancun, as mentioned in another post.
I have trouble watching them arrive to the turtle grounds on Culebra and leaving without holding my breadth.
Renting these as part of Eco Tour in Culebra's waters is a bit like renting Harley's to tourists to go bird watching on land. The business was promoted on TV, and in the program demonstrated unsustainable behaviors, chasing down turtles.
Culebra's jet ski tour operators have argued that their vehicles pose no greater threat to wildlife than a speeding boats - and while I agree that speeding boats also present a serious problem for coastal wildlife and even snorkelers...the jet skis are designed specifically to perform the worst and most unpredictable behaviors that threaten coastal wildlife...making it difficult for animals like sea turtles and manatee to avoid high speed collisions. They have also been documented as a chronic problem approaching way to close to calving whales in Rincon....
I am not sure about these new models, but in the past they were the most polluting aquatic vehicles. They also discharge thermal effluent that kills sea grass.
In theory anyway, tour boats are operated by a captain with training and permits. The captain has a clue where he is taking you and how to operate the vessel in environmentally sensitive areas, and in various environmental conditions.
There is no way the guide operating the jet skis can assess the capability of his visitor before he lets them take the helm of a water rocket - someone you may go on a tour with could have been drinking and pose a safety threat to you.
If you care about Culebra's Coastal Wildlife you wont support businesses that threaten it. However, I would argue this even for Cancun, hich was on my last visit pretty unbearable due to lack of regulation of activities like this.
It seems it can always get worse.
Mary Ann Lucking,
PO Box 750
Culebra, PR 00775