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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lusca, environmentalist and activist

There are underwater caves, tunnels and blue holes all over the Bahama Islands, especially around Andros which has an underwater cave system that links the freshwater lakes with the ocean. These caves are called "blue holes."

I was recently in a small boat out on a blue hole doing some diving with a group when one of the locals warned us about the mean-spirited creature named Lusca, the dragon octopus, who lives in the blue holes. It seems that lately Lusca likes to drown tourists like me. Fortunately, my island guide offered a blessing and some charms to keep me safe which I accepted with gratitude. I am happy to report that the charms worked perfectly and I was not dragged down into a watery grave!

On our way back in we enjoyed the telling of the legend of the keeper of the blue holes. The tidal currents are said to be the breath of Lusca. As she breathes in, water pours into the caverns, and when Lusca breathes out, cold, fresh water gushes up to the surface. The tidal flow brings food for the grouper, lobster, reef sharks and other fish that reside in the blue holes. So, Lusca has long been thought of as the guardian of the blue holes because she makes sure the fish that live there are fed. And, in turn, the people are fed.

The ancient people believed that water accidents and drowning were caused by Lusca. And today, because the tourists and sport fisherman are upsetting the natural balance in these areas, it is agreed that Lusca may be doing a little housekeeping. Many local Bahamians stay away from the blue holes, while others with a good heart and the knowledge of the elders approach with the reverence and respect Lusca demands.

The dragon octopus only asks us to be mindful, aware of the presence of danger, and to respect the delicate balance of the ecosystem of the sea. She asks us to take no more than we need, and leave her realm as we found it when our day of diving or fishing ends. She asks us that we respect the amazing perfection of God's creation and the Earth Mother. And if we don't do that, well, we've rocked the boat. So she asks us all to make the choice: sink or swim.

You go girl!

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