Sri Lanka. The pearl of the Indian Ocean. My motherland.
In my travels overseas, when people hear I’m from Sri Lanka I’m always greeted with a gasp of pure pleasure and happiness. And then they continue to rave about our pristine sandy beaches and lush greenery.
Living in Sri Lanka I took that for granted in a way. Sure it's breathtaking but it never really fully understood what everyone was going on about.
All that changed a few years ago. I went to Dubai for the first time and spent a few days there. The stark difference struck me. I would keep looking out the window for anything green.
On my return, as the plane was starting to make its descent, my beautiful island came into view. I got it then! The greenery, her lushness, her beauty. I burst into tears at the sight of her.
I write this post to you also in tears. Even as the Sri Lankan Navy together with the Indian brave inclement weather to contain the damage, I can see the difference. The pristine beaches of the Western shoreline destroyed. My heart breaks!
As marine animals start washing up on shore, I remember a time when as a carefree child I used to run along those beaches collecting stones and washed up corals. I remember a time when I used to play a game of spot a fish or a turtle.
I feel like I’m stuck in a dark painting. What happened to all that blue? The golden beaches? Why are they so dark?
But as I take a step back I realize the humanitarian and ecological disaster that this creates. With the shorelines and ocean ruined fishing communities in the region will be the hardest hit.
When Aryssa Yoon and I mapped the destruction of the coral reefs, its because carbon brief had labeled it as a tipping point. It is entirely possible that the bar reef in Kalpitiya — an absolute wonder will get affected by the pollution this has caused to the ocean. Not only is the reef filled with colorful corals and fish, but is home to whales and dolphins during the season.
Ever heard the saying when it rains it pours? Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has warned of the possibility of acid rain.
The damage to marine life is and will be unprecedented. I can’t even begin to imagine the lasting impact this would have on the Indian Ocean.
The Maritime Post reports the MEPA Chairman Dharshani Lahandapura, saying “this is probably the worst beach pollution in our history.” — Source — https://www.facebook.com/themaritimepost/posts/2794748024119914
When Aryssa Yoon and I wrote about how the Death of Nature impacts inequality, we spoke about how livelihoods will be lost. Especially for those that depend on the sea. This is yet another cause leading to the same effect.
When I started this I really wanted to write more about the impact, but my heart is not ready yet.
As I sit here watching the beach from my apartment, I think of how it used to be. Emerald blue waters glistening in the sun. The frolicking waves. My beautiful island nation. Sri Lanka.
Special thanks to my friend Sam who helped me get the photos. Aryssa Yoon for being my Wicked 7 cause and effect mapping partner.
An extra special thank you to the Sri Lankan Navy, Coast Guard, and MEPA for ongoing beach cleanup efforts.