Fun Facts About Some Caribbean Animals
The wildlife of Turks and Caicos extends further than the lively poolside bars and beach parties. There is an abundance of underwater creatures living amidst the vibrant coral reefs of the Caribbean sea, and on land there are many ancient reptiles and colorful birds. When it comes to mammals, the majority consist of goats and potcakes – wild dogs that roam the islands – although majestic humpback whales pass by annually. The water is full of many fish that are as pretty to look as they are tasty to eat. If you’re interested in ecotourism, we offer a few wonderful tours with Big Blue Unlimited, where you can combine sightseeing with education with activities. Go SCUBA diving with sea turtles, kayaking in the mangroves with flamingos, or walking along the beaches and cays with iguanas. With so much magnificence to experience in Turks and Caicos, you’ll want to have a primer on what to expect. These are just a few of our favorite animals awaiting your presence to share their majesty.
One of the trademark animals of Turks and Caicos is the elegant flamingo – the authentic model behind the popular lawn ornament. The flamingo’s vibrant pink feathers are indicators of health and vigor. Its black hooked beak is uniquely used upside-down to separate mud and silt from their food. Scientists don’t yet fully understand its one-footed balancing act which may just be the flamingo keeping it zen with a little bird tai chi. Flamingos are highly social creatures, living in colonies of well over a thousand birds. FUN FACT: a group of flamingos is called a flamboyance! The ancient Egyptians considered flamingos to be living representation of the sun god Ra while the ancient Romans enjoyed eating the delicacy of flamingo tongue. Some Andean miners believe the fat from a flamingo is a cure for tuberculosis. The flamingo teaches us to how to filter things from our life that do not benefit us and keep those heal that the heart. If the flamingo is your spirit animal, you prefer the company of others to solitude and are probably quite flirtatious 😉 offering joy and love in a vibrant fashion.
The graceful sea turtle is one of the most beautiful marine animals in the Caribbean, and you can snorkel with these creatures any time of year. Females come ashore to lay their eggs at night on the white powdery sand beaches of Turks and Caicos. Under the veil of night, the turtle will dig a hole in the sand, lay up to 200 eggs, then secretly fill the hole back in until it’s unrecognizable and completely hidden. Incubation takes about two months, and again under the protection of darkness, the babies hatch and instinctively head for the sea. Although they are underwater animals, they require breaths of air from the surface. The sea turtle can live up to 80 years, about the same lifespan of humans. Leatherback sea turtles are immune to the deadly sting from the box jellyfish and eat them on the regular, thus helping to keep tropical beaches safe for humans. They also graze upon the sea grass, like manatees, helping the ecosystem grow for other creatures that depend on sea grass for survival. Due to imprecise fishing methods and black market demand, most sea turtles are sadly either endangered or critically endangered species. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. To the Native Americans, turtles are associated with the lunar cycle and the power of female energies as well as the mystery of awakening the senses. Just as the turtle cannot separate itself from its shell, neither can we separate ourselves from what we do to the Earth.
Iguanas are the cats of the reptile kingdom, super-intuitive and independent creatures who love basking in the sun. Like sea turtles, iguanas lay their eggs in the sand, up to 70 at a time. The Turks and Caicos rock iguana is native to the islands, with 50,000 of the reptiles, and the closest we can come to experiencing a dinosaur first hand. They inhabit small cays, such as Little Water Cay, a rock iguana sanctuary that you can tour to experience these little dragons. In only five years, a handful of cats and dogs completely destroyed the entire population of iguanas on Pine Cay. So while they are similar in many regards, try to keep the cats and the iguanas separate. The iguana totem reminds us to adapt wisely while maintaining integrity and going with the flow to overcome adverse external conditions.