Co-authored by Ellen Prager, Steven Miller and Carl Safina
(CNN) Once upon a time, on a small island in the Caribbean, there was a picturesque harbor and lovely town overlooking clear emerald-blue waters and spectacular coral reefs. Visitors enjoyed dining at waterside restaurants, diving, snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides and even a submarine tour of the nearby reefs. Local businesses thrived and made millions of dollars each year through tourist activities.
One day, the government decided to build a massive dock and pier to make cruise ship visits more efficient and to lure in larger vessels. They destroyed a historic shipwreck, acres of living coral reef and left the harbor water milky white from dredging.
After the giant concrete facility was put in place, visitors still came to the island, but its unique harbor, clear water and nearshore coral reefs were no more. Local dive shops, hotels and restaurants went out of business, and there were few water-based activities to enjoy in the harbor.
Scary fairy tale or potential reality?
Today, the government of Grand Cayman is considering such a huge pier development plan. If it goes through, George Town harbor and the island will be forever altered.