SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2019 NO. 127
Then to now
Local fishery in peril
SALT OF THE EARTH
A Salt Cay Adventure
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6 From the Editor
13 Getting to Know
By Kathy Borsuk
Photos By Daphne Roots
16 Eye on the Sky
Let it Rain!
By Paul Wilkerson
30 Creature Feature
A Master of Illusion: The Longlure Frogfish
By Brian Heagney ~ Photos By Sabine Frank,
Humpback Dive Shack, Grand Turk
54 Exploring the Islands
Finding the Salt of the Earth
Story & Photos By Mat Matlack
60 Faces & Places
Caribbean House Evolution 2019
72 About the Islands/TCI Map
77 Where to Stay
78 Classified Ads
80 Dining Out
82 Subscription Form
22 Conched Out?
By Kathleen Wood
40 The Hunt for Whales
By Ben Stubenberg
48 Gentle Giants
Story & Photos By Kelly Currington
SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2019 NO. 127
On the Cover
Brian Heagney of The Humpback Dive Shack on Grand
Turk took this photo of a humpback whale this Winter
season. His business specializes in eco-friendly, lowimpact
whale watching/swimming (January to April),
scuba diving, Stingray tours and snorkeling around the
warm waters of Grand Turk and Salt Cay. For more information,
32 “Fingerprinting” Whales
By Cathy Bacon, Mithriel MacKay and
Katharine Hart ~ Photos By Katharine Hart,
Deep Blue Charters
36 All is Not Well
Tissue Loss Disease
Story & Photos By Erin Bowman and
62 Bold and Unapologetic
Story & Photos By Dr. Michael Pateman and
66 To the Rescue
By Dr. Shaun Sullivan and Dr. Michael Pateman
Photos Courtesy Turks & Caicos National
EDITOR’S NOTE: OOPS! It was brought to my attention that this image,
appearing on page 36 of the Spring 2019 Times of the Islands was
drastically misidentified. It was not a “clump of tube sponges” but a
Pencil Urchin (Heterocentrotus sp.). Brian Heagney of the Humpback
Dive Shack in Grand Turk comments, “From the image it is clear that
the animal is still alive and it would be considered uncommon to find
them on the beach alive—rather in tide pools and shallow reefs close
to the beach. They can be washed ashore in storm conditions and
soon after death the ‘pencils’ break away from the body and can be
found while (beach)combing.” Amy Avenant of the DECR concurs, adding,
“They do leave behind the loveliest of shells when they ‘expire’
and their spines are often sought after for jewelry (not great).” The
error is entirely mine and I appreciate our eagle-eye readers.
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Bernadette has lived in the Turks and Caicos
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has listings on Providenciales, Pine Cay,
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buyers of homes, condos, commercial real
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Turks and Caicos Property is the leading
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Bernadette’s reputation and success has been
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enthusiasm and passion for real estate. Her
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This offering consists of 2 large vacant commercial lots (parcel 96 & 97) with a total of 1.87 acres in the
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A truly excellent Turks and Caicos investment opportunity with endless possibilities to develop.
Please contact Bernadette if you would like
to find out more about owning real estate in
the Turks & Caicos Islands.
from the editor
KATHARINE HART–DEEP BLUE CHARTERS, GRAND TURK
Yes, this is a trio of whales “waving” their pectoral fins in the waters between Salt Cay and Cotton Cay this winter season. The photo was
taken as part of the TCI Humpback Whale Citizen Science Project. (See page 32.)
Good News, Bad News
Good news: This winter season (2018/19) was excellent for residents, visitors and scientists eager to observe
humpback whales migrating from the northern Atlantic to the Caribbean’s warmer waters to give birth and mate. I’m
so pleased at the expansive coverage we are able to provide in this issue of this important seasonal ritual that has
deep roots in history.
Bad news: TCI’s conch fishery could be in trouble if active steps are not taken now to protect the country’s iconic
mollusk. Be sure to read Kathleen Wood’s outline of the situation and suggested remedies.
Good news: On May 1, 2019, TCI’s nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags took effect. As someone who was
trained by my mother to use cloth bags for decades (and who endured the strange looks of Provo store clerks for
many years), I am ecstatic! I admire local supermarket chain Graceway IGA for their “Staying Blue” campaign, designed
to encourage shoppers to earn tokens to donate to charities each time they bring or buy a reusable bag.
Bad news: As reported by Heidi Hertler and scientists at the School for Field Studies on South Caicos (page 36),
an unusual disease has been spotted on coral reefs there and on West Caicos. Fortunately, it has been caught early
and could be remedied with the help of research done in other places where it has struck.
Ah! How we must pray for our “groaning” planet! But how thankful I am that we have so many concerned people
doing their “work on the ground” to help save it.
Kathy Borsuk, Editor
firstname.lastname@example.org • (649) 946-4788
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Five Distinct Villages
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1. Key West Village 2. Italian Village 3. Caribbean Village 4. French Village 5. Seaside Village
Beaches Turks & Caicos
is on the world’s
#1 BEST BEACH
by tripadvisor ®
*Visit www.beaches.com/disclaimers/timesoftheislandsspring2019btc or call 1-800-BEACHES for important terms and conditions.
Amy Avenant, Cathy Bacon, Kathy Borsuk, Erin Bowman,
Kelly Currington, Vanessa Forbes-Pateman, Katharine Hart,
Brian Heagney, Heidi Hertler, Mithriel MacKay, Mat Matlack,
Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Ben Stubenberg, Dr. Shaun Sullivan,
Lisa Talbot, Ziahon Taylor, Paul Wilkerson, Kathleen Wood.
Almay.com, Erin Bowman, Caribbean House Evolution,
Kelly Currington, Vanessa Forbes-Pateman, Sabine Frank–
Humpback Dive Shack, Katharine Hart–Deep Blue Charters,
Brian Heagney–Humpback Dive Shack, Heidi Hertler,
Istock.com, Mat Matlack, Marta Morton–Harbour Club Villas,
Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Daphne Roots, Ramona Settle,
Turks & Caicos National Museum, Paul Wilkerson.
Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum,
Wavey Line Publishing
PF Solutions, Miami, FL
Times of the Islands ISSN 1017-6853 is
published quarterly by Times Publications Ltd.
Copyright © 2019 by Times Publications Ltd. All rights reserved
under Universal and Pan American Copyright Conventions.
No part of this publication may be
reproduced without written permission.
Subscriptions $28/year; $32/year for
non-U.S. mailing addresses
Submissions We welcome submission of articles or photography, but
assume no responsibility for care and return of unsolicited material.
Return postage must accompany material if it is to be returned. In no
event shall any writer or photographer subject this magazine to any
claim for holding fees or damage charges on unsolicited material.
While every care has been taken in the compilation and reproduction of
information contained herein to ensure correctness, such information is
subject to change without notice. The publisher accepts no
responsibility for such alterations or for typographical or other errors.
Times Publications Ltd., P.O. Box 234,
Lucille Lightbourne Building #1,
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI
Tel/Fax 649 946 4788
Advertising 649 431 7527
getting to know
BWIC top student Chelsea Stubbs achieved academic accolades while overcoming
great difficulties at home.
She Will Reap
BWIC student Chelsea Stubbs.
By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photo By Daphne Roots
Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.
Most of us are familiar with the Bible verse that tells us that we reap what we sow. It’s always uplifting
when we witness a concrete example of this credo in action.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 13
Chelsea Stubbs, the British West Indies Collegiate’s
Head Girl, bears an incredible list of academic accomplishments.
She earned the “Top BWIC Student Award
from Year 7 to Year 11” and achieved the coveted place
of “Valedictorian of the Year 11 Class of 2017.” Two
years after achieving ten A*s at IGCSE, she has just completed
her final year of the Advanced Level courses in
Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry and achieved all
As in her AS exams. But her greater success came when
she was lauded as “Top in the World for Cambridge
International AS Level Chemistry,” achieving the highest
mark in the world in her three Chemistry papers. She did
similarly well in Biology (93%) and Mathematics (94%).
Other accolades include being recognized as the
country’s Top Science and Humanities student and Overall
Best Performing Student (shared with Tyrese Saunders)
during the National Academic Awards in January 2019.
During her educational career at BWIC, she has also won
first place in the National Inter-High School Spelling Bee
and first place in the Fortis Science Quiz for three consecutive
years. At the same time, she was a formidable force
on the BWIC softball and volleyball teams, both national
What does this have to do with sowing? At the same
time as all of this was taking place in 2017, Chelsea’s
father, Bennett Stubbs, suffered two massive strokes.
Single-handedly at their home, Chelsea nursed her father
through his illness and recovery, cared for her grandfather
Stanley Stubbs, and ran the household. She traveled
with her dad on hospital visits to the Dominican Republic
(she is fluent in Spanish and was well able to represent
him), as well as to the US for speech therapy.
I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for a teenager
to contend with so many responsibilities. However,
Chelsea does not dwell on difficulties; instead, she turns
them into learning experiences. She would undertake
extra studies at school after spending the entire night at
the hospital, tending to her father. When he came home,
Chelsea used the Internet to learn about nursing and
stroke rehabilitation. Through it all, she never questioned
having to do the right thing.
Others have sowed into Chelsea’s life, as well, and
are now delighted with her success. Besides her father’s
life-long advice to put her best effort towards everything
she does, Chelsea credits her godparents, Mr. and Mrs.
Warren Forde, with setting her sights high. “They always
lifted me up and encouraged me to do well in school. I
wanted to make them proud and show that their support
was not wasted.”
Chelsea Stubbs excels in science and will be attending Imperial
College in London this September to study medicine.
After her primary education at B.E.S.T. Institute,
Chelsea was offered a full seven-year scholarship by
Graceway IGA to attend BWIC. Her dream had come true
and she joined the Collegiate in Year 7 (Form 1). BWIC
Principal Sylvie Wigglesworth states, “Her academic brilliance
and high degree of self-discipline were impressive
from day one. She never took anything for granted and
continued on her quest for excellence.” Besides being
Chelsea’s principal, Mrs. Wigglesworth has been her
mentor for years. Chelsea says, “Madame has been a very
special part of my life and I will never forget how she went
out of her way to help me countless times. I did not know
there could be so much love in the heart of one person.”
Chelsea adds that she also received a lot of support
from her Biology and Physics teachers at the Collegiate.
“They made a significant contribution to my success.
They always believed in my abilities and were instrumental
in seeding a deep love for the subjects. They were
constantly taking me beyond the confines of the syllabus,
making science fun and rewarding by placing it into the
context of the wider world.”
BWIC ad May 2019 Times 2_Layout 1 5/22/19 1:17 PM Page 1
During her A levels, although Chelsea did her best to
make good use of her time at school, she inevitably had
to miss some lessons due to being at the hospital with
her dad, preparing for medical school entrance exams,
and flying to England for university interviews. She says,
“I am very grateful to the school and my teachers, espcially
Miss Jones, who have supported me in and outside
school, for understanding my situation and trusting that
I would make up for lost time. I would also like to thank
a benevolent member of the community and his wife for
taking me into their home while my dad was away so
I could have a quiet space to prepare for the Year 12
What does the future hold for this ever-smiling,
upbeat 19 year-old? Chelsea hopes to use her life experience
to learn to heal others. With a full scholarship from
the TCI Government (as Top National Scholar), she plans
to study medicine and has completed difficult interviews
at Sheffield and Manchester Medical Schools in the UK, as
well as Imperial College in London, one of the most prestigious
schools of medicine in the world. All three have
offered her a place, with Chelsea preferring Imperial, and
anticipating a September start.
Her scholarship bond requires that she return to
TCI to practice medicine for five years and this humble
student has clear ideas on how she wants to “doctor.”
She says, “I want to be a general practitioner, talking to
patients, learning about their needs, and then being the
one to send them to the necessary specialist. My goal is
to diagnose disease, especially mental illness, early-on
and treat my patients as whole persons–mind, body and
Chelsea has engaged in meaningful work experience,
volunteering at the Provo Children’s Home and
local Emergency Medical Service. She also shadows Dr.
Bourne and Dr. Menzies at Associated Medical Practices
It is clear that Chelsea Stubbs is not a person out for
accolades. She is calm, happy, and very well-rounded. She
plays the flute in the BWIC band, bakes cakes, cupcakes
and brownies and loves to read 20th century history.
She wants to nurture the seeds of opportunity that have
sprouted in her young life. As Chelsea says, “Good things
follow you when you are determined to work hard to
accomplish them.” a
By the way, Chelsea reports that her father has made an
excellent recovery and is back to a happy life as normal.
THE GOLD STANDARD OF PRIVATE
SECONDARY EDUCATION IN TCI
Established in 1993 in the heart of Providenciales, the
British West Indies Collegiate provides high quality
education from age 11 through to 18 (Years 7 to 13), based
on the British National Curriculum. The school is an
accredited Cambridge Assessment International Education
Centre for IGCSE and GCE Advanced Level qualifications
as well as a SAT centre. The student population comprises
approximately 160 students, typically made up of 60%
Turks & Caicos Islanders and 40% international students.
Facilities at the Collegiate include four science
laboratories, a 25-unit computer room, an extensive
library, a Sixth Form common room, and Brayton Hall -
our fully-equipped performance centre. We welcome
applications from all age groups. However, placement is
strictly based on performance in the school's entrance
A high proportion of the Collegiate's IGCSE and A-Level
graduates consistently achieve distinction with the highest
grades in a range of academic subjects. History has
repeatedly shown that our A-Level graduates prove not
only to be suitably equipped to compete for places in the
world's top universities, but also thrive once they reach
there. Two of our Year 12 students have been the recipients
of the Cambridge Outstanding Learner Awards, “Top in
the world” in Mathematics (June 2015) and “Top in the
world” in Chemistry (June 2018) at Advanced Subsidiary
Please contact the Principal,
Mrs Wigglesworth. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call +1 649 941 3333.
We will be happy to give you a private tour of
the school. Website: www.bwic.tc.
EDUCATION IN TCI
BWIC is a non-profit institution and is always in need of
funds to provide scholarships. We have a small number of
sponsors and donors, but would greatly welcome
additional support. Every scholarship will provide a young
Turks & Caicos Islander access to an outstanding
education. The Collegiate was originally endowed by a
US-registered 501(c)(3) foundation, and donations made
to that foundation for onward transmission to BWIC are
tax-deductible for US citizens. If you are thinking of
contributing to the growth and development of the Turks
& Caicos Islands and its population, a donation to BWIC
is one of the best ways you can help.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 15
MARTA MORTON – WWW.HARBOURCLUBVILLAS.COM
eye on the sky
Opposite page: May through July is the first small peak of rainfall in the TCI, followed by the primary rainy season from October to December.
Above: This mid-afternoon rain shower fell on Pumpkin Bluff Pond on North Caicos.
Let it Rain!
The annual roller coaster.
By Paul Wilkerson
As a tourist to the Turks & Caicos Islands, I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained
during our stays! Many visitors don’t realize what a commodity rainfall is, and how desperately it is
needed here. When it comes to water availability, it is vitally important for the Islands to get frequent rainfall.
Many residents are dependent on “sky juice” captured via roofs and gutters and stored in a cistern
or “tank.” When that runs dry, they must purchase “city” water from the desalination plant on island, as
well as bottled water for their everyday use. Besides home use, fresh water is needed for gardens, farms
and animals. In fact, water is one of life’s necessities that we take all too much for granted outside of the
Caribbean and other locations where it is often scarce.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 17
Above: The TCI’s primary rain clouds tend to develop over East and Middle Caicos, then move towards Providenciales.
Below: These maps forecasting precipitation for the Caribbean over the next several months are a product of the Caribbean Regional Climate
Center. Its goal is to support the region’s socio-economic development by generating suites of climate products and services to inform riskbased
decision-making in climate sensitive sectors. For more information, visit https://rcc.cimh.edu.bb
Thankfully, Mother Nature can help bridge the gap
and bring much needed fresh water to the Islands that
can be captured and utilized in many different ways by
those who live here. Many homes across all of the Islands
utilize cisterns, some of which can be quite large, capable
of holding thousands of gallons of water. Whenever
beneficial rains fall, even if for only a few minutes, these
homes can capture this fresh water through funneling
systems that direct it into home “tanks.” Owners can then
utilize that water daily to take care of themselves and
their households. This reduces not only the requirement
for desalinated water, but it also helps keep water costs
lower for owners when rainfall is abundant. And in the
Turks & Caicos Islands, rainfall is a very welcome product!
Many may be surprised to learn that some parts of
the Turks & Caicos can annually average as much as 40
inches of rain or slightly higher, while other parts average
less than 25 inches. The winners in the rainfall department
are North and Middle Caicos, along with Providenciales.
Those receiving the least amount of rainfall are Grand
Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos and the smaller cays to the
east of their larger neighbors mentioned before.
There are several reasons why this is likely to occur.
In the 2018/19 Winter issue of Times of the Islands, we
talked about cloud formations and where we normally see
that occur. Thanks to the larger land mass and gradual
upsloping of East and Middle Caicos, we normally see
our primary rain clouds develop in these general areas.
With the ever-present tradewinds coming from the east
and southeast the majority of the time, these clouds will
produce rainfall across North and Middle Caicos and
continue on to produce rainfall over Providenciales and
nearby cays. Visitors to the Islands will note vegetation
appear more lush across North and Middle Caicos and
this is due primarily to the higher amounts of rainfall
these islands experience. Unfortunately for Grand Turk,
Salt Cay and South Caicos, the terrain is rather flat and
therefore don’t get the necessary lift in the atmosphere
necessary to produce rainfall. This results in very low
rainfall amounts during the year and very arid conditions
There are periods of the year when the Turks &
Caicos have what could be called a “rainy season.” More
correctly said, it is the time when the Islands experience
their greatest amount of rainfall. TCI usually sees its first
small peak between May and July. This can largely be contributed
to tropical waves and disturbances that move
through the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea during the
beginning into middle portions of the hurricane season.
In years when the hurricane season is not very active, the
TCI in general will see below-normal rainfall.
The primary rainy season is typically from October
through December, when the Islands can get as much
as 40% of their entire seasonal rainfall. In this instance
however, there are two factors at play that contribute to
this flux in the season. The first factor is the fact that we
are still in hurricane season. Tropical waves will continue
to impact the Turks & Caicos generally until late October
or early November. Most important is the second factor,
and that would be the change to northern hemisphere
fall and winter. As we transition into these seasons, the
jet stream—which is responsible for moving low pressure
systems across the United States—begins to sink south
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Times of the Islands Summer 2019 19
M Page 1
into the lower portions of the US and at times well down
into the Gulf of Mexico. This allows trailing cold fronts to
routinely swing through the Islands during this time. This
also greatly increases the chances of rainfall. Naturally
once we exit hurricane season and are dependent solely
on systems from the US, the average rainfall falls off once
again for January through April with much drier conditions
as a result.
As tourists, naturally our instinct tells us we don’t
want to see rainfall while we are visiting. I propose we
change our thinking. Based on what you have read here,
my hope is that on your next adventure to the Islands, if
you experience rain, take a moment to celebrate with the
Belongers. While that rainfall may cause a small inconvenience
in your day, it is providing life sustainment for
those who call the Turks & Caicos Islands home! a
Paul Wilkerson is an American meteorologist and tourist
who frequents the Turks & Caicos Islands. Along with
his wife and two daughters, the Wilkersons stay actively
engaged with Islanders throughout the year with his
Facebook page Turks and Caicos Islands Weather Info.
DISTRIBUTOR DISTRIBUTOR FOR FOR EVINRUDE && MERCURY MERCURY
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Bringing weather education to schools
The Turks and Caicos Weather Facebook page is
proud to announce that we are working to bring
weather technology to the schools of the Turks &
Caicos Islands. During the last two months, the
weather page launched an initiative to provide
weather stations to schools, with the goal of placing
a weather station into each school on each island.
While this will take some time, I am pleased to
report that as of this writing, four weather stations
have been delivered to the Islands and are being distributed
to a high school on Providenciales, a high
school on North Caicos, the primary school on South
Caicos and the primary school on Grand Turk.
With Hurricane Irma still on everyone’s mind,
now is a great time to work with local children to
get them interested in weather and how it impacts
their lives. Through this outreach, students can learn
to track weather conditions using these stations and
can work to build local climatology that may become
useful in the years to come for seasonal impacts.
We would like to thank Tito and Atekah Seymour
for being the hands and feet on the Islands. They
have worked tirelessly to ensure shipment and safe
arrival of the weather stations and coordinated with
the schools to have them delivered or picked up.
We would also like to thank all of our donors on the
weather page! Without their donations, this venture
would not be possible.
If you would like to help us bring weather stations
to the Turks & Caicos Islands, please contact
Paul or Brande Wilkerson at pwilkerson74@yahoo.
com to discuss how you can be a part of impacting
the lives of TCI children. a
Tito Seymour presents a weather station to Vice Principal Beverly
Malcom at the Ira Stubbs Primary School on South Caicos.
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Opposite page and above: Conch is particularly vulnerable to overexploitation, due to its slow mobility, habitat in shallow, accessible water
and relatively slow growth and reproductive cycles.
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It just wouldn’t be the Turks & Caicos without conch. Who hasn’t visited without sampling a conch salad,
typically made with meat fresh from the shell, or a bowl of conch chowder, each concoction a reflection
of the cook’s creativity? Whether cracked conch, steamed conch, conch ‘n’ rice, or conch fritters, the
ubiquitous ingredient is a Turks & Caicos tradition, as are photos and artwork of and crafts made from
its pearly pink shell.
The clock is running out on TCI’s conch fishery.
By Kathleen Wood
But all is not rosy when it comes to this beloved mollusk. The collapse of conch fisheries throughout
the region serves as a precautionary tale for TCI’s compromised conch.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 23
Earlier in 2019, research spanning decades in the
Bahamas concluded that without significant intervention
and changes to fishing policy, the Bahamian queen conch
Lobatus gigas fishery will collapse within 10–15 years
(Allan W Stoner, Davis, & Kough, 2019). Conch populations
in legal fishing grounds in the Bahamas have declined by
as much as 90%. Even more alarming are declines in protected
areas, where conch are aging and dying out, as
younger recruits are not moving in to replace them.
The Bahamas are just the latest in a series of conch
industry collapses that have been occurring across the
species’ range for the past few decades. In Florida, the
conch fishery collapsed more than 40 years ago and has
still not recovered. In 1992, conch was listed under the
Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) due
to concerns regarding stock depletion from overfishing
and inadequate management. Nevertheless, stocks continued
to decline and by 2004, trade was suspended in
the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Antigua and
Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago,
based on evidence of declining stock and/or lack of effective
management in those countries.
Conch is particularly vulnerable to overexploitation,
due to its slow mobility, habitat in shallow, accessible
water and relatively slow growth and reproductive cycles.
Under CITES, a country such as the Turks & Caicos Islands
can only export conch if they can demonstrate that such
export is not detrimental to the survival of the species
(Theile, 2005; Truelove et al., 2017). TCI can no longer
honestly make a no-detriment statement to CITES.
The Bahamas findings should set off alarm bells in the
Turks & Caicos, where similar patterns of declining conch
stocks over the past 10 years indicate that TCI’s conch
fishery is also in peril. Since 2008, TCI’s conch catch has
been reduced by more than 50%. Once-abundant, shallow
water stocks have been all but fished out and fisherfolk
are now forced to move into deeper water, further offshore,
in order to find enough conch to meet a burgeoning
demand. Unlike the Bahamas, TCI does not have meticulously
recorded data over the same time frame from which
to draw conclusive evidence. Unfortunately, this lack of
data has been used as an excuse to maintain the status
quo; however, business as usual, at this time when resolute
action is needed, will likely result in the collapse and
loss of TCI’s iconic fishery in a relatively short period of
time. The region is full of examples that serve as harbingers
of this fate.
In 2006, a sweeping assessment of the world’s
fisheries stocks revealed a disturbing trend: 63% of the
world’s fisheries were being over-fished (Worm et al.,
2009). Six years later, the trend was worsening. Assessed
were 4,713 fisheries worldwide, representing 78% of the
world’s fish catch. Of these, only 32% were found to be
in good biological condition (Costello et al., 2016). Both
studies specifically concluded that the “business as usual”
approach to fisheries management was largely culpable
for global fisheries collapse and that without significant
alterations to the status quo, the trend of collapse will
Numbers don’t lie
As with many of the world’s collapsing fisheries, the TCI’s
management of the conch fishery relies on a quota system,
based on the determination of maximum sustained
yield (MSY). In other words, each year a number is determined
that, in theory, allows for the maximum amount of
conch that can be taken and naturally replaced through
breeding. The use of MSY has been the standard for most
of the world’s fisheries for decades; however, a comprehensive
study of fisheries in ten large marine ecosystems
determined that at fishing rates equal to 90% of MSY, at
least 50% of targeted fish stocks were collapsing (Worm et
al., 2009). TCI has been fishing conch at rates above 90%
MSY for at least 15 years.
Even in an ideal world, where MSY is accurately determined
with data from visual surveying of conch stocks
in the field, fishermen cannot necessarily safely remove
close to the MSY figure and be assured that similar numbers
will be harvestable into the future. TCI does not have
accurate visual survey data, although a partial survey was
conducted in 2012–2014, which suggested that TCI’s MSY
for conch hovers around 600,000 pounds. Nevertheless,
TCI established a quota of 820,000 pounds of landed,
unprocessed meat, including 500,000 pounds for export
and 320,000 pounds for local consumption.
A recent study looking at fisheries landings in
TCI found that actual conch catch is at least two times
higher than what is being reported (Ulman, Burke, Hind,
Ramdeen, & Zeller, 2016), and that local consumption
alone probably equates to the entire quota. This stark
reality indicates that conch in TCI has been over-fished
for several years. Although many people in TCI blame the
decline of conch stocks on hurricanes, the data demonstrate
that over-fishing is the more likely culprit.
The problems with policy
TCI currently regulates the conch fishery under the
Fisheries Protection Ordinance (FPO) and National Parks
Ordinance (NPO) in several ways:
• A quota system limits the amount of allowable catch.
• A closed season for export reduces demand from
July 15–November 15.
• Restrictions on size (total shell length of 7 inches,
uncleaned meat weight of 8 ounces and filet weight
of 4 ounces) reduces the taking of juveniles.
• Designation of closed areas protects critical juvenile
habitats and areas for spawning and reproduction.
• A prohibition against using scuba and other
artificial breathing gear limits the amount of conch
that can be harvested at depth.
While TCI’s laws and policies to regulate conch were
considered standard when they were developed many
years ago, as with most dated fisheries policies they have
not been sufficient to prevent stocks from declining.
The quota system is inherently flawed because it
doesn’t take into consideration the myriad environmental
factors that affect species populations. Healthy habitats,
relationships with other species, and protection during
vulnerable breeding and juvenile life stages are essential
in determining whether a species thrives or fails. Even
when fisheries are well-regulated, with up-to-date stock
assessments to determine MSY, many are collapsing.
Quota systems are now considered outdated and ineffective
on their own, and contemporary fisheries scientists
now propose an ecosystem approach to fisheries and
other conservation management. This takes into consideration
not only the amount of a species to be harvested,
but also the protection of habitat and integration of each
Cays Winter Times 2018_Layout 1 11/14/18 10:30 AM Page 1
species’ unique life history.
The current quota for TCI is arbitrary and is not based
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on any actual data. Data that has been collected suggests
that conch consumed locally are already at or above MSY.
How many conch are there in TCI? Where are they breeding?
What ages are they? Where are the important juvenile
habitats located? We cannot possibly determine how conch
can be sustainably harvested without this information.
Closed seasons can be a highly effective means of
protecting fisheries stocks and are an important component
of an ecosystem approach to management. Typically,
a season closes during the targeted species’ breeding season.
For TCI’s lobster Panulirus argus fishery, the closed
season falls roughly between April and September, which
corresponds nicely with the time of year when most lobsters
are spawning. The conch closed season from mid-July
to mid-November unfortunately does not correspond well
with the conch’s breeding patterns, which typically also
occur during the months from April to September. Conch
are currently being fully harvested during peak breeding
season, which can only have extremely detrimental effects
on the species’ capacity to replenish itself. Furthermore,
TCI’s closed season is only closed to export. We now know
that the bulk of TCI’s conch catch goes to local consumption;
therefore, a season closed to export alone does little
to serve sustainable conch management interests.
Size restrictions are often used in fisheries management
to allow species to reach breeding age before
they are harvested. The hypothesis is that minimum size
restrictions will allow many individuals to make it to reproductive
age and thereby replace those harvested. In the
case of conch, it has been known for many years that most
size measurements cannot be correlated to reproductive
maturity (A. Stoner, Mueller, Brown-Peterson, Davis, &
Booker, 2012; A. W. Stoner & Ray, 1993). Sexually maturity
can be reached when conch are as small or smaller
than the seven inches stipulated under TCI law or when
they significantly larger. A better estimate of sexual
maturity is obtained by measuring shell lip thickness, and
research has shown that a conch shell lip with a thickness
of 15 mm correlates to a 50% probability that the conch
will be sexually mature, with males maturing earlier than
females (Allan W Stoner et al., 2019). TCI’s size regulations
for queen conch are therefore biologically dubious,
and a majority are probably being fished out before they
are sexually mature.
Protected areas that are closed to fishing and other
harmful activities are critical components of a sensible
ecosystem approach to fisheries management. In order
to safeguard a species during vulnerable life phases, habitat
for juveniles and spawning should be protected. In
TCI, only one protected area—the East Harbour Lobster
and Conch Reserve, located off South Caicos—has been
specifically designated for the conservation of conch.
Unfortunately, the designation of this area allows for the
harvest of up to 10 conch by an individual for personal
consumption (Fisheries Protection Ordinance Regulation
13). This loophole has led to the complete depopulation
of conch within the reserve, rendering it practically useless.
Another important site for conch is located between
Little Water Cay and Mangrove Cay. This area is an important
juvenile habitat for queen conch and densities of up
to 1.1/m 2 (the highest recorded in TCI) were previously
recorded (Pardee, 2008). The dredging of the Leeward
Channel and dumping of spoil (Star Island) in the middle
of the area has significantly degraded the habitat, and a
subsequent recent study recorded densities reduced by a
factor of four at this site. The area is also frequented by
tour operators and has been further depopulated from
illegal souvenir collection by unaware visitors.
Other important sites for queen conch include spawning
aggregation areas off Molasses Reef, the Fish Cays and
West Sand Spit, and juvenile habitats within tidal creeks
on East Caicos. These habitats all remain unprotected and
fishing pressure continues, all but ensuring the species’
eventual demise in TCI.
On a positive note, a progressive law under the FPO
[Regulation 9(1c)] prohibits the use of scuba or other
artificial breathing devices while fishing in TCI. Such prohibition
limits the depth at which fishers can catch conch,
since they are harvested via free diving. It has long been
assumed that TCI’s unreachable “deep water stocks”
allowed for the replenishment of shallower fishing areas
on the Caicos Banks, and there is likely some veracity to
this belief. Unfortunately, with shallow water stocks now
depleted, fisherfolk are venturing into deeper and deeper
water in search of conch to supply the country’s hefty
demand. Exacerbating the situation is illegal fishing by
poachers from nearby Hispaniola. Dominican poachers
notoriously use underwater artificial breathing hookah
apparatuses, specifically to target the deep-water stocks.
These stocks are the last vestiges of the fishery in TCI,
and once they have been fished out, no recovery will be
What can be done?
When this article is published, the conch fishery will be
closed to export for the closed season. Prior to the opening
of the fishery, several steps should urgently be taken:
Hugh final_Layout 1 5/29/17 1:15 PM Page 1
HUGH G. O’NEILL
P.O. Box 267
1136 Leeward Highway
Turks and Caicos Islands
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 27
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1. A comprehensive visual survey should be conducted
immediately in order to establish an up-to-date population
baseline and stock characteristics.
2. Export should be discontinued until such a time that it
can be determined via factual evidence that such export is
not detrimental to the species, as per CITES requirements.
3. The closed season should be moved to April 1– August
31 in order to be more in sync with conch’s spawning
activities. The closed season should also be closed to local
exploitation, so that no conch can be harvested during the
closed season at all.
4. New size regulations, which use shell lip thickness
(minimum 15mm), rather than overall shell length, should
be implemented. The regulations should also require that
conch are landed in their shell for enforcement purposes.
5. Spawning aggregation sites and juvenile habitats
should be comprehensively identified and protected from
exploitation and degradation.
6. Enforcement willingness and capacity to stop illegal
poaching and other infractions of regulations must be
improved. DECR needs the staff, vessels and willingness
to accomplish its mandate.
7. Government should develop economic support incentives
for fisherfolk who will be disadvantaged by new
policies. This could include alternative employment in
infrastructure projects, payment for assistance with visual
surveys and other needed scientific research and training
for the development of alternative livelihoods.
Queen conch has been a cornerstone of TCI’s economy
and culture since Lucayan people arrived on these
shores more than 1,000 years ago. In the 19th and early
20th centuries, dried conch was a principal trade good,
transported in traditional sailing sloops and sold in nearby
Hispaniola. After the advent of flash freezing and cold
storage, the industry blossomed into one of the country’s
leading exports, contributing millions of dollars annually
to TCI’s economy.
TCI’s “business as usual” model for managing conch
will result in the collapse of the fishery in a relatively short
space of time. Collapsed conch fisheries across the region
demonstrate that once conch is fished out, it does not
return. TCI’s government and fisheries managers can
no longer plead ignorance. We know a crisis is at hand
and only immediate and decisive action will protect what
is left of TCI’s legendary fishery. We can but hope that
this administration will be the one that saves TCI’s conch
rather than letting it become a sad and preventable footnote
in history. The clock is ticking. a
Immediate and decisive action is required to preserve TCI’s iconic conch fishery for future generations.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 29
Is it a sponge . . . or a Frogfish? The tiny eyes and mouth give it away.
A hidden gem on the reefs of the Turks & Caicos
Islands, the Longlure Frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus)
is a demersal (living close to the sea floor),
piscivorous (fish-eating) species that employs crypsis
(ability to avoid being seen) to avoid predation and stalk
its prey at the same time. It has a prickly, usually brightly
colored skin (even yellow, red, pink or blue) and is often
adorned with fleshy or filamentous spinules.
A Master of Illusion
Learning about the fascinating Frogfish.
By Brian Heagney, B.Sc Marine Biology ~ Photos By Sabine Frank
The Frogfish very effectively mimics a harmless invertebrate
sponge on the reef. Rather than regularly visiting
a cleaning station to be groomed as most other reef
fishes do, the Frogfish actually encourages algal growth
on its body to further complement its camouflage. This
amazing fish can also change its color to match the surroundings,
a biological skill called mimesis.
All in all, this multi-faceted approach to camouflage
makes the Frogfish a real master of illusion (and
incredibly difficult to spot). The skin and its stomach are
also extremely distensible, allowing this greedy critter
to engulf prey twice its size. Even more remarkably, it
catches its prey using a “fishing rod.”
The first spine of its dorsal fin is highly modified into
a long fishing rod (illicium) that is tipped with a delicate,
feathery lure (esca). This little lure is wriggled enticingly
above the mouth as a bait to attract other fishes that
are then swallowed whole, in a nearly imperceptible
split-second motion, as the Frogfish projects its jaw up
and forward, creating a vacuum to suck its victim inside.
The Frogfish’s pectoral
fins are also modified to have
an elbow joint, allowing it to
strangely plod around the reef
on webbed feet rather than
swimming. Like a lion, the
Frogfish likes to stay close to
its prey and will normally stay
in the same area for several
weeks at a time when the fishing
is good, so once spotted
you can return to try and search
for it again.
If a prey fish should not be
attracted to its lure, the Frogfish
will actually stalk it instead and
it can suck its victims down the
hatch from one body length
away. To top it off, Frogfish are
jet propelled—water sucked in
through the mouth is expelled
through small, circular gill
openings behind the “legs” and
this propulsion is used to hop
The Frogfish actually encourages algal growth on its body to further complement its camouflage.
around the reef in the fashion
of its namesake.
This unique and interesting little fish is a magnificently
rare highlight on any dive and if you can find one
it is extremely rewarding. The last one spotted in Grand
Turk was at 30 feet deep on the Chief Minister’s (South)
dive site. There are a number of species of Frogfish that
could be encountered in the Turks & Caicos, including the
Longlure, Splitlure, Dwarf, Ocellated and Sargassumfish.
The most fantastic member of the family globally (for me)
is a toss-up between the Giant and the Hairy.
Have a closer look at the sponges on your next dive
because one of the many amazing wonders of the underwater
world might just be staring right back at you. a
A native of Ireland, Brian moved to the Turks & Caicos
with his wife Sabine in 2016 where they opened the
Humpback Dive Shack on Grand Turk. Brian received his
degree in Marine Biology from the Queens University of
Belfast in 2001 and has been traveling the globe as a
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and underwater photographer
since 2003. He holds an additional qualification
in Tropical Habitat Conservation, is a certified whale and
dolphin guide, a qualified boat captain and a self-taught
outboard engine mechanic.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 31
newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
head office: church folly, grand turk, tel 649 946 2801 • fax 649 946 1895
• astwood street, south caicos, tel 649 946 3306 • fax 946 3710
• national environmental centre, lower bight road, providenciales
parks division, tel 649 941 5122 • fax 649 946 4793
fisheries division, tel 649 946 4017 • fax 649 946 4793
email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org • web https://www.gov.tc/decr/
This humpback whale calf is breaching in the waters of the Turks Bank.
Using whale sightings by citizen scientists in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
There are few places in the world like the Turks & Caicos Islands where humans can enter the water and
photograph some of the most spectacular, charismatic, and important animals on the planet. The Marine
and Coastal Ecology Research Center (MCERC) is working closely with TCI residents, visitors, and whale
watch operators and their guests who are enthusiastically contributing important data through citizen
By Cathy E. Bacon M.Sc., Mithriel M. MacKay Ph.D., and Katharine Hart M.Sc.
Photos By Katharine Hart, Deep Blue Charters, Grand Turk
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Photographs of humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae
(and dolphins!) can provide a great deal of
information. There are two primary catalogs for humpback
whale images: HappyWhale (happywhale.com) and
the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue (www.coa.
edu/allied-whale/research/). Scientists from all over the
globe contribute images to these catalogs in addition to
keeping their own smaller catalogs specific to their areas.
Because the images are curated by dedicated and skilled
scientists, the unique pigment patterns on the underside
of whales’ tails (flukes), scars, and other natural markings
can be used in scientific investigations.
The pigment patterns on the flukes are a “fingerprint”
and make it possible to match the images and determine
how far within the Caribbean the whales travel, where
they have been sighted on their feeding grounds in much
higher latitudes, which other whales they are seen traveling
and mating with throughout the North Atlantic, and
so much more.
Citizen Scientists (this could be you) are submitting
snapshots and videos of the humpback whales underwater.
Social media makes it easy to submit photos to
MCERC and, in turn, creates a forum for MCERC’s senior
marine biology staff to share information about these
The FaceBook group, “Turks and Caicos Islands
Humpback Whale Sightings” (www.facebook.com/
TCIWhales/), was created and is maintained by Cathy
Bacon. Cathy is a Senior Research Associate and co-author
of multiple publications based on the marine
mammal research studies with MCERC. Cathy communicates
directly with the citizen scientists and shares the
exciting matches that their contributions glean. The TCI
Humpback Whale Catalog, maintained by MCERC, submits
images on behalf of citizen scientist photographers and
the research team to the larger repositories. They can be
viewed globally by scientists studying these species.
This past winter (2018/19) alone the citizen scientists,
including whale watch operators, have provided
images that were matched to Samaná Bay or Silver Bank,
Dominican Republic (Joanne Buddle, Alcides Falanghe,
Marks and scars observed in photographs are used by researchers
to identify individual whales in different locations over multiple seasons.
Humpback Dive Shack), Newfoundland (Pat Mezzina,
Joanne Buddle, Ines Moosman, Beth Grassette, Humpback
Dive Shack), and the Gulf of Maine (Sean Brady, Jim Hayes,
Paula Faiferman, Dave Dietze, Jay Lawson, Amy Looby,
Shelley Jensen, Kell Talbot, Katharine Hart—Deep Blue
Charters) helping MCERC to understand movement patterns
and behaviors of migrating whales throughout the
North Atlantic. The data captured by people enjoying
their experience in the TCI is combined with the science
team’s data and then shared with other researchers
through publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentations.
The photographers are always acknowledged
as a valued part of the MCERC science team.
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises (cetaceans) in the
TCI are not well studied. Whales and dolphins are often
seen from land and vessels throughout the TCI and while
the tourism industry (from large cruise ships to small tour
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 33
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Images of the tail fluke of humpback whales are useful for identification.
This young humpback whale (above) has a “firework” on its
fluke, making it easy to identify throughout the 2019 season.
operators) recognizes the TCI as an attractive destination
for visitors, the impact to local cetacean populations
is unknown. There is preliminary evidence suggesting
the Turks & Caicos is a significant migratory destination
for North Atlantic humpback whales, as well as other
resident cetaceans. Year-round, Cetaceans have been
sighted nearshore and offshore, including bottlenose dolphin
(Tursiops truncatus), deep-diving offshore species
(sperm whales [Physeter macrocephalus], beaked whales)
and shallow swimming nearshore species (pilot whales
[Globicephala sp.], dolphins).
MCERC is dedicated to providing research and education
opportunities aimed at increasing an investment
in conservation and preservation of healthy marine and
coastal ecosystems. Collaborations with people among
the TCI is a valuable resource for promoting interest,
gathering information, and maintaining an understanding
of the elements most important to residents.
MCERC supports scientific research of marine habitats
and encourages participation of investigators with
a similar mission. In 2017, MCERC began their primary
project in the TCI in collaboration with the Department of
the Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR), investigating
the humpback whales wintering off the Turks Bank.
Humpback whales migrate from the North Atlantic feeding
grounds to lower latitudes throughout the Caribbean
during their winter breeding season (January–April).
An unexpected, yet incredibly important, benefit
of the TCI Humpback Whale Citizen Science Project has
been the increased awareness of global concerns regarding
tourism and its impact on the humpback whales that
are so loved throughout the Caribbean. There has been
a great deal of misunderstanding that visitors are solely
focused on getting as close as possible to the whales.
Tour boat operators in the TCI have access to feedback
from tourists and researchers through the FaceBook
group which is highlighting two very interesting points for
this economically important industry in the archipelago.
First, tourists are more concerned with the well-being
of the whales (especially moms and newborn calves)
than getting too close to whales. Guests seek out whale
watch operators that have responsible approaches to the
whales, and shy away from the aggressive operators who
are perceived as putting whales in danger. This means
that a tour boat operator who chooses the best interest
of the whales over getting too close to the whales will
make more money through positive reviews and tips by
their guests! The FaceBook group has been an effective
way to communicate the best practice for operators and
the positive response from guests.
The second exciting outcome from the TCI Humpback
Whale Citizen Science Project has been the following by
people who love the TCI from near and far and want to
stay connected to the activity of the humpback whales.
It will be interesting to see if people visit TCI as a result
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Did you know . . . ?
Wheeland Pond information signs
• Whale “poop” primes the
food chain in all oceans?
• Humpback whales are increasing in numbers
throughout the North Atlantic?
• Whales that die and fall to the bottom of the
ocean create an entirely isolated mini ecosystem?
• Only male humpback whales sing, but we still do
not understand why?
• The Turks & Caicos Islands are a “highway” to
the rest of the Caribbean, and back to the northern
If you want to learn about these topics and more,
join the Citizen Scientists and the MCERC Senior
Scientists on our FaceBook page and let’s chat! a
of reading about this research project that includes the
people who know the country best. The membership to
the group is steadily growing.
Become a citizen scientist
With your help, the marine biologists at MCERC will continue
to build a better understanding of humpback whales
in the TCI, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic. If you
have been lucky enough to go whale watching in the TCI,
we would love to include your data to the MCERC TCI
Humpback Whale Catalog. The FaceBook group has all
the information explaining how to submit your video and
still images and notes that even a seemingly poor photo
can provide important information. Cathy Bacon and the
rest of the science team can answer your questions.
In fact, the more questions you post in the group,
the more people will learn about TCI humpback whales,
dolphins, turtles, and all topics related to marine biology.
Summer is here and the humpback whales have traveled
north to feed. You can become a citizen scientist while
you organize all those photos you captured this winter.
Join the FaceBook group and submit your video and photos
from any year in the TCI and let’s discover if your
photos match a humpback whale observed in the North
DECR officials and members of the Clement Howell High School’s
Tourism Club stand by the new signs at Wheeland Pond.
The Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
(DECR) collaborated with the Clement Howell High
School’s Tourism Club to install information signs at
Wheeland Pond in Wheeland, Providenciales.
The signs, one describing the mangrove ecosystem
and the other encouraging the community to
keep the ponds clean, were installed by the Tourism
Club after the students banded together to create
awareness about the importance of the wetland ecosystem
following the annual World Wetlands Day
clean-up, hosted by the DECR, earlier this year.
DECR Environmental Outreach Coordinator Amy
Avenant said, “We are encouraged to see young people
concerned about the state of our environment
and motivated enough to educate others about it
too!” TCI Minister of Tourism, Environment, Heritage
and Culture Hon. Ralph Higgs added, “I am pleased
to see the collaborative effort between the DECR
and Clement Howell High. This is a worthy initiative
and one that we would like to see happen in schools
across the Turks & Caicos through club memberships
and other means.”
The DECR and Clement Howell High’s Tourism
Club would like to thank Ms. Tanya Parnell, Mr.
Trevor Lewis of Graceway IGA and the Turks & Caicos
Tourist Board for their support of this initiative. The
DECR would also like to acknowledge the initiative
taken by the students and thanks them for giving
back to their local community and environment. a
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 35
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Clockwise from top: A diseased colony of maze coral (Meandrina meandrites)
is spotted on a research dive.
This colony of brain coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis) shows the blotching
pattern brought on by Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
The disease makes its way across a colony of great star coral (Montastrea
All is Not Well
Tissue Loss Disease a threat to TCI reefs.
Story and Photos By Erin Bowman and Heidi Hertler, Ph.D.
In a time when climate change is wreaking havoc on coral reefs worldwide, the reefs of the Turks & Caicos
Islands remain some of the most resilient and pristine in the Caribbean. They are home to more than 60
species of stony coral that have been building for millions of years, creating the intricate reef systems
known today. As worldwide reef degradation goes, the Caribbean has been the unfortunate epicenter,
with significantly more damage and less recovery than in reefs of the Pacific or Mediterranean. There are
many theories as to why this may be the case and likely it is due to a wide variety of reasons.
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
Geographically, the Caribbean’s location makes
it vulnerable to the tradewinds that blow across Africa
towards the Atlantic, bringing dust and sand particles
from the Sahara along with them. It is thought that these
iron-rich particles carried to the Caribbean reefs increase
the growth of algae, which bloom four times faster than
on Indo-Pacific reefs. Algae compete with corals, which
naturally grow slowly and struggle to outcompete these
large blooms. On top of that, the Indo-Pacific is home to
many more species of coral and fish, including vital herbivores
like parrotfish which graze on algae and prevent
it from taking over and smothering reefs.
Corals thrive in very specific living conditions; water
that gets too hot or too cold, any change in nutrients or
salinity or exposure to too many or too few UV rays all
can cause a coral to be “stressed.” Once stressed, the
microalgae living inside of coral polyps called zooxanthellae
are expelled, stripping the coral of its color and
main energy source. This is the phenomenon described
as coral bleaching. Once bleached, a coral is not dead. If
the unsuitable conditions that caused the coral to stress
return to normal in a reasonable amount of time, the
coral can regain its zooxanthellae and return to a healthy,
unstressed state. If the condition remains imperfect, and
does not improve, in a matter of weeks the coral will start
to die, being unable to capture enough food for itself
without its photosynthetic counterpart, zooxanthellae.
Despite the unfortunate state of Caribbean reefs as a
whole, the TCI reefs have somehow managed to remain
in a comparatively healthy state. While various bleaching
epidemics have left their impact, TCI reefs show much
less bleaching than those in Florida or other parts of the
Caribbean. This could in part be due to the deeper nature
of these reefs, where the UV light reaching the corals is
There is also much less human impact in the TCI than
elsewhere in the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, 22 countries
have larger populations than the TCI, which has just
over 36,000 residents as of 2019. South Florida, including
the counties of Miami-Dade and Monroe, where much
reef degradation has been seen, is home to over 2 million
people, so there is significantly less routine exposure to
human impacts at TCI reefs.
Water temperature surrounding the TCI remains quite
stable throughout the year. At its coldest, the water is
about 26ºC (79º F) and at its hottest, it is 29ºC (84ºF).
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease makes its way across a colony of
great star coral (Montastrea cavernosa).
This is very different from the waters of South Florida,
in which the temperature fluctuates throughout the year
from 21ºC (69ºF) to 31ºC (87ºF).
The School for Field Studies Center for Marine
Resource Studies (SFS CMRS) on South Caicos has been
diving and conducting research on the surrounding reefs
for the past 30 years. Studies have varied over the years
but largely revolve around the topic of reef health and
monitoring. Now in 2019, for the first time in 30 years,
researchers at SFS have noticed a change in the reefs they
know so well. Suddenly, at multiple sites, corals were
dying; sometimes just one area on an individual coral and
other times entire coral heads. It was noticed immediately
that these corals weren’t just bleached, they no longer
showed the fuzzy outline indicating polyps still living
within the coral and only the white skeleton remained.
It was quickly determined that a disease of some sort
must be causing this sudden death of previously healthy
corals. Coral diseases have been studied for years, and
in many cases, researchers have been able to identify the
causes, transmission factors, and solutions to such dis-
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 37
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
eases. Whatever was damaging the reefs of South Caicos
however, didn’t look or behave like any well-known coral
diseases. Over the past few months, the researchers at
SFS had been hearing about a new disease that is causing
major problems on the Florida Reef Tract, and elsewhere
in the Caribbean.
First reported in Florida in 2014, Stony Coral Tissue
Loss Disease (SCTLD) is killing corals faster and across
more species than any other coral diseases known. Since
2014, it has traveled from northern Miami–Dade County
all the way down the Florida Keys and into the Caribbean
in places like Jamaica, St. Maarten, and now the TCI. The
method by which the disease is transmitted from coral to
coral is unknown, making it extremely difficult to study
or replicate so that methods of putting a stop to it can be
tested. Over half of the stony coral species found on the
Florida Reef Tract are affected by SCTLD, though there
are many factors that influence the likelihood that a coral
will contract the disease (such as the location of the
coral and time of the year.) Many researchers throughout
Florida and the Caribbean are actively trying to pinpoint
the indicators of the disease and the rate at which it progresses,
though it has proven to be a difficult feat as
these attributes may vary by species affected.
SFS CMRS students are collecting
data on coral bleaching and Stony
Coral Tissue Loss Disease near South
In what is widely being
considered an epidemic, the
reefs that are already deteriorating
now are forced to
face this new and deadly disease.
One quality that makes
SCTLD so lethal is that it
functions from the inside
of the coral to the outside.
Typical first signs of SCTLD
on a coral are bands of discoloration
begin to turn white and
move across a colony, often
in a circular pattern radiating
out or a line moving
from one side to the other.
By the time any signs show
up on the outside of a coral
though, the disease has
already infected the colony
and begun to do its damage on the inside. Due to the
necrotic nature of the disease, as the coral polyps die,
the tissue begins to deteriorate rapidly and slide off the
colony. Once all living tissue is gone, the coral is left with
only the skeleton, which will eventually be overgrown by
Since the discovery of the disease off of South Caicos,
SFS researchers and students have worked together to
gather data on affected corals. Knowing the local reefs
gives researchers a better perspective as to how much of
the reef is being affected. Identifying differences between
SCTLD in the TCI and elsewhere can help to narrow down
characteristics of the disease. Any similarities or differences
in affected species, location, or depth may be
useful in identifying the pathogen or transmission vectors
of the disease.
The good news for TCI reefs comes back to their
impressive resilience in the face of the devastation that
the rest of the Caribbean is facing. Compared to conditions
in Florida, SCTLD here has not even made a dent
in our reefs. The fact alone that it took a full five years
from the original outbreak to reach TCI reefs has spared
us from facing the same damage. The coral heads here
that have contracted the disease are isolated from one
green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources
another, often with one or more other corals in between
that remain unaffected. This is largely in contrast to
Florida’s reefs, where many groups of coral heads can
be seen having died from the disease, though this does
not necessarily indicate that all corals within a group
contracted the disease one right after the other in those
The work that researchers have been doing in Florida
since the first outbreak will be incredibly useful in the
fight against SCTLD here, in that because of their work
we essentially have a head start on the disease and know
more about it than we would if this was a nameless,
unheard of condition. As of now, SFS is the only team in
the TCI working to gather data on SCTLD, but as word gets
out and more people learn about the possible destruction
this is going to cause our reefs, we are optimistic that
other capable hands will join the fight. Research will not
only help us to minimize the effect of SCTLD on our pristine
reefs, but it can also empower us to prevent reefs
elsewhere in the world from having to experience the
alarming loss seen throughout the Caribbean. a
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. “Coral
reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean naturally tougher than
Caribbean reefs.” ScienceDaily, 12 July 2012.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (2018). Florida
Reef Tract Coral Disease Outbreak: Disease. National
Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA.
Kinane, S. (2019) Florida’s devastating coral disease has
spread to the Caribbean: scientist. 88.5WMNF Florida
Riggs, B. (2006) Coral Bleaching: Bad news and (a little)
good news for Turks & Caicos Reefs. Times of the Islands.
The Museum Turks and Caicos (2019) “The Living Reef.”
Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies.
Turks and Caicos Reef Fund (2019) “Coral Bleaching.”
Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies.
Weinberg, E. (2018) Scientists work together to solve a
coral disease mystery in the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary. National Ocean Service, NOAA, Department of
I am sea turtle.
I am green turtle. I swim far and wide.
Queen in my blue wilderness.
Below the sea, dwelled a beautiful green turtle
(she loved to swim around).
She danced with happiness in her heart
she danced as the sound of the sea rang in her ears.
In the morning, she wandered far and wide: in a
blink of an eye, she could hear all types of honking.
She swam and swam; she stopped and ate a plastic
bag thinking of jellyfish and then–BOOM–the cruise
ship stopped! And an anchor fell as another turtle
passed by. Both turtles dropped down in despair!
Their fins cut and bruised: the turtles cried with
anxiety. Then they heard a big–SPLASH–two girls
swam to the turtles with speed. The girls stopped
with silence They heard a noise–BOOM–and another
one–BOOM–then a–SPLASH. Two strong men came
to help all. All of them together lifted the anchor
and set it somewhere else. They lifted the anchor
slowly and moved it away from the turtles.
Two men lifted the turtles out to the shore…
A few days later, the turtles went into a sanctuary…
they found 56 bags of plastic in them.
We are sea turtles no more.
We are green turtles no more.
We can no longer swim far and wide,
queens of our beautiful blue wilderness.
STOP THIS PLASTIC POLLUTION BEFORE WE LOSE
ALL OF OUR BEAUTIFUL TURTLES!!
This poem was written by Ziahon Taylor,
a Grade 4 student from the International School of
the Turks & Caicos Islands.
She wrote the poem following the school’s “Zero
Waste Week” and subsequent DECR visit.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 39
Opposite page: It’s hard to believe that humpback whales, among the largest creatures on the planet, were hunted almost to extinction less
than 60 years ago. Above: This Anton Otto Fischer painting depicts the almost-unimaginable work of harpooning a whale.
The Hunt for Whales
From harpooning leviathans to holding them dear.
By Ben Stubenberg
“I need everyone’s eyes on the water,” Captain Kell Talbot earnestly tells the guests on the Deep Blue
Charters whale watching boat three miles east of Salt Cay. “The front of the boat is twelve o’clock, the
back six o’clock. When you see a whale surface, call out your sighting on the clock so we can track it.” All
hands on deck peer out in silence over the ripples of a pale blue sea glistening in the morning sun—straining
to catch the first glimpse of the giant cetaceans we know are out there, just below the surface, gliding
over the shallow banks. The palpable thrill of anticipation bonds perfect strangers in a singular quest.
“Look! There! Four o’clock,” a watcher cries out. “Oh my God!” All heads turn to see a dark gray arching
back break the surface followed by a spray of vapor and squeals and hollers of jaw-dropping awe. Captain
Kell cuts the engine, letting the boat drift. Suddenly, the 50 foot (15 meter) long humpback, nearly twice
the size of the boat, majestically rockets straight up, almost completely out of the water. Huge flippers
open wide as if to say, “Hello, I see you,” before the massive body splashes down spectacularly before us.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 41
That these magnificent creatures, the largest our
planet has ever seen, were hunted almost to extinction
less than 60 years ago hardly seems possible. The consuming
quest for quick riches from slaughtered whales
to fuel the demand for lamp oil, buggy whips, and cheap
meat for an industrializing world might well have denied
us that shared moment of intense common humanity on
the sea—as well as all future generations.
And that should give us pause for what our progeny
may say about us 60 years from now. For even today, notwithstanding
protections, whales face a future as uncertain
and perilous as they did when whalers relentlessly pursued
them across every ocean. In a hopeful twist of fate, however,
the pristine waters surrounding the Turks & Caicos
Islands, that once saw its share of whale hunting, could be
a respite from modern perils, a sanctuary where whales
thrive and perhaps befriend us.
Humans have hunted whales since prehistoric times,
but the story of commercial whaling began in the early
1700s, principally out of the New England fishing town of
Nantucket. Here, ships under the power of wind and sails
fanned out into the eastern seaboard of North America for
what was at first easy pickings. Humpbacks, sperm whales,
and right whales abounded and their numbers seemed limitless.
Hardy sailors perched in crow’s nests atop masts
100 feet (30 meters) above the deck scanned the sea for
the same telltale signs as tourists on whale tours do today.
When the bellowing cry of “There she blows” rang
out at the sighting of a whale, the crew below frantically
lowered open whale boats over the side and rowed hard,
guided by pointing arms from the crow’s nest. Crouched
at the prow, the strongest and most agile man of the lot
readied his harpoons, essentially modified wooden spears,
about 6 feet (2 meters) long, with one or two metal barbs
near the tip. A bucket held a long coiled rope fastened
tightly to the harpoon shaft, the other end wrapped around
a wooden post built into the boat. The harpooneer, as he
was called, stood and braced himself as the boat closed
in on the prize. The captain signaled for the crew to stop
rowing and use their oars to paddle quietly.
Then, just feet from the giant leviathan and when
seconds counted, the harpooneer lifted his weapon high
above his head and hurled it as straight and deep and true
as he could into the thick blubber of the whale’s back so
the barbs held fast. If he was quick and lucky, he might get
off a second throw. As the wounded whale bolted from the
boat using powerful thrusts from its tail, the rope rushed
out, so fast the post smoked from the friction. Sometimes
the rope entangled the harpooneer, severing his leg or
arm or dragging him overboard. Fighting for its own life,
the whale would try to dive down, swiftly towing the boat
toward the horizon up to 23 mph (37 kph) in what became
known as a Nantucket Sleigh Ride. Thrilling as it was terrifying,
the crew hung on, hoping the out-of-control boat
would not be pulled under. The struggle might go on for
30 minutes or more until the whale, exhausted and near
Sometimes whales fight back. There have been at least half a dozen recorded incidents of cetaceans using their massive heads (mainly sperm
whales) to ram whaling ships in apparent acts of fury.
death, surfaced for one last breath of air. In the bloodsoaked
sea, the whale boat would again pull close, so the
captain or first mate could try to finish off the weakened
whale by thrusting a trident-tipped lance into its belly.
At that point, the crew had to act quickly to bring the
whale back to the mother ship, as whales sink quickly after
being killed. Then begin the arduous and equally dangerous
task of flensing (butchering) and boiling the blubber
for oil. The decks, slick with blood, caused many a whaler
to slip and fall overboard into a frenzy of feeding sharks
By the mid-1700s, New England whaling ships had
reduced the whale populations off their shores, forcing
the whalers to expand their searches further south to
the Caribbean and off the coast of Brazil. As the whales
became scarce there too, whalers sailed around the Horn,
entering the vast Pacific where ships could be away from
home port for years. Typically, a successful whale ship
would catch between 25 and 50 whales. For all the danger
the crew faced—almost every hunt produced some injury
or death—the rewards depended entirely on the favorable
outcome of the voyage, and few got rich. The pay for sailors
was only marginally better than crewing on vessels
carrying cargo. Still, the able-bodied signed up in droves
for the intoxicating adventure and a chance to make a bit
At whale hunting’s peak (1820–1850), whalers numbered
8,000 and killed around 10,000 whales a year. In
the second half of the 19th century, the whaling industry
began to decline as new and less expensive petroleum
products became available. Paradoxically, from 1900–
1999, 2.9 million whales were killed, according to Scientific
American—four times more than were killed in the previous
400 years. Larger whale ships and the perfection of the
explosively charged harpoon that could be mounted and
fired from the ship deck—credited to Norwegian inventor
Svend Foyn—allowed for many more whales to be taken,
though mainly for meat.
Sometimes the whales fought back. The most famous fictional
account, of course, is the story of the great white
whale Moby Dick by Hermann Melville. He based his epic
treasure of American literature on the true story of the
attack on the Nantucket whaling ship Essex in November
1820 in the South Pacific, more than 1,000 miles off the
coast of Peru. (The story has since made into a major
motion picture, “In the Heart of the Sea”, directed by
Ron Howard.) In fact, there have been at least six other
recorded incidents of cetaceans using their massive heads
(mainly sperm whales) to ram whaling ships in apparent
acts of fury: The Pusie Hall in 1835, the Lydia and the
Two Generals in 1836, the Pocahontas in 1850, the Ann
Alexander in 1851, and the Kathleen in 1902. All these
wooden ships came out of New England ports, and all but
the Pusie and the Pocahontas sank.
In the case of the Essex, first mate Owen Chase spotted
a huge sperm whale lying quietly in the distance, the
head facing the ship. After two or three spouts, the colossal
animal made straight for the Essex, ramming its head
into the side of the ship, “with an appalling and tremendous
jar, as nearly threw all of us on our faces.” The whale
passed under the ship and then surfaced, allowing the first
mate to see him “smite his jaws together, as if distracted
with rage and fury,” and then disappeared. Shortly thereafter,
a crew member cried out, “Here he is making for us
again.” Head half out of the water, the whale bore down
once more on the ship, this time striking the bow. Water
rushed in through the busted planks and the Essex began
sinking, so fast that Chase and the crew barely had enough
time to escape in their whale boat.
The Essex captain, George Pollard, who had been out
with another whale boat pursuing and harpooning whales,
returned stunned to see his ship floundering before disappearing
under the waves. Bobbing on the sea in open
20 foot boats with hardly any food or water, the whalers
contemplated what to do next. The captain, just 28 years
old, wanted to head south to the nearest land in Marquesa
Islands and Tahiti, but Chase and others talked him out
of it because they believed cannibals lived there. So they
steered the longer way east to South America, perhaps
the most ironic decision in maritime history. In the weeks
at sea that followed, the crew quickly ran out of what few
provisions they had and began eating anyone who died,
becoming cannibals themselves. On Pollard’s boat, when
no one had died for a few days, they drew lots of who
would be killed and eaten. Only eight of the original twenty
survived the harrowing ordeal at sea, including Pollard and
Chase, to tell their stories.
Notably, the gigantic bull sperm whale that rammed
the Essex had not, in fact, been harpooned himself, but
may have reacted to seeing and hearing members of his
pod being attacked. While whales are social creatures and
normally not aggressive, they can be when challenged or
feel the whale family is threatened.
The attack on the Ann Alexander took place in the
same area as the Essex 31 years later on August 20, 1851
(the same year Melville’s book was published) with its own
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 43
astounding scenario. The ship had launched two whale
boats, one of which harpooned a sperm whale. After a
Nantucket Sleigh Ride, the whale circled back, and with its
huge jaws snapped the whale boat in half, throwing all six
whalers in the water. A second whale boat nearby rescued
them. Meanwhile, a third boat was launched from the Ann
Alexander and headed out to assist. But rather than return
to the ship, the remaining two boats continued to chase
and harpoon the angry whale. Once more, the whale circled
back and crushed the third boat with its jaws, tossing
the whole crew in the water. Again, they were rescued by
the remaining whale boat, now quite crowded, and finally
returned to the ship.
Rather than call it a day, the crew continued to harpoon
the whale from the ship when it swam close, managing to
lodge a harpoon in its head. The whale disappeared below
the surface, but then surfaced to smash its head into the
hull below the waterline, creating a gaping hole. As water
rushed in, the crew re-launched the one remaining whale
boat, barely getting away, but now even more vulnerable
on the open sea with a raging whale. The whale swam off,
however, and two days later another whaling ship spotted
and rescued the whalers.
TCI whale hunts
The first recorded Turks & Caicos Islands whale catch
took place on February 4, 1846 off Grand Turk amid great
rejoicing of the people, according to the Handbook of the
Turks and Caicos Islands by J. Henry Pusey, published in
1897. Pusey writes:
“This gave rise to well-organized whale-fishing companies
at Grand Turk and Salt Cay. Whales were thus
captured every year, a single whale of ordinary size
being sufficient for the entire population to share in
the delicacy of its flesh. Large quantities of train (or
common) oil were obtained from this most remarkable
of the cetaceous order of animals.”
Rather than big whaling ships, the Grand Turk
Whaling Company, succeeded later by the Salt Cay Whaling
Company, relied largely on native Turks & Caicos Islanders
using rowboats launched from shore. The whaling company
even placed an ad in the Turks Islands Gazette
and Commercial Reporter on January 3, 1849 calling
for “Headers, Steersmen (harpooneers) and Oarsmen for
the Whale Company’s boats for the approaching season.
Those who have pratice (sic) would be preferred.”
Taylor Hill on Salt Cay was once a whaling station look-out. The limestone ruins and field walls can still be seen. It is still a good place to
watch whales pass by during the winter months.
Whalers would often harpoon a calf and keep it alive to attract the mother and other whales, so they too could be harpooned.
KATHARINE HART–DEEP BLUE CHARTERS, GRAND TURK
For decades, the local population directly benefited
from whales caught and killed that could supplement their
meager diets, likely alleviating hunger in view of the poverty
at the time. On February 11, 1871, the Royal Standard
carried a news article telling of a whale capture and what it
meant to the Islands:
“With much pleasure we give place to the Report,
from a correspondent on Salt Cay of the capture of a
whale by the boats of that place. We wish the financial
condition of the colony was more flourishing, so
that a bounty may be given for each whale killed and
brought to shore, as no one, but those who have witnessed
it, knows what a godsend the flesh of a whale
is to a poor community.”
The article not only effusively commends the harpooneer
as Mr. John Vose Lightbourn, but goes on to
articulate the pressing need for food.
“What a gift this mass of meat is to the laboring portion
of and the poor and destitute of our Island, who
in consequent of the scarcity and high prices of provisions
have for a long time been deprived of a meal,
and are at present able to put by a good supply of
strong and wholesome food.”
Giving us a glimpse into the tenor of the times, Mr.
Pusey recounts the harpooning of a whale calf off Grand
Turk on April 17, 1872.
“The old mother-whale kept so closely during the capture
to her wounded young, that with proper materials
(perhaps indicating need for an additional harpoon)
and cautious management, she also would have been
Whalers often harpooned a calf and kept it alive to
attract the mother and other whales, so they too could
be harpooned. At this late date in the season, most of
the family of humpbacks had probably begun the 1,500
mile (2,400 kilometer) journey north back to the feeding
waters off Newfoundland and Greenland, leaving the
mother and calf alone. Perhaps the mother lingered just a
few more weeks so they could get stronger before making
the strenuous trek. Yet his matter-of-fact observation,
important enough to include on the now-crumbling, yellowed
pages of Pusey’s book, echoes across the ages from
their time to ours. And 147 years later, we feel the torment
of that mother-whale desperately staying with her mortally
wounded calf to the end.
Along with food, the local whaling companies
extracted whale oil that could be barreled and sold. Pusey
tells us that in the month of February 1883, a whale was
caught at Salt Cay that produced 900 gallons of oil. He
also notes that in the same year the head of a sperm whale
was found at Bambarra (Middle Caicos), yielding “several
hundred gallons of sperm oil.”
The Salt Cay Whaling Company closed in 1888, but
whaling in TCI apparently did not stop, and may possibly
have continued as late as 1920. According to Salt Cay
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 45
native and boat captain Oscar Talbot, based on stories he
had heard from his father and grandfather, “Local Turks
Islanders regularly set out on their own to hunt whales
to supply Salt Cay and Grand Turk with meat, which was
considered the delicacy of the day.” Tim Dunn, another Salt
Cay native and whale expert, noted that Taylor Hill, the
highest point in Salt Cay at 74 feet (23 meters), functioned
as a look-out for spotting whales.
Once harpooned, Mr. Talbot said, “The whale would
run for miles and miles pulling the boat along,” thus experiencing
a Nantucket Sleigh Ride in TCI style. Mr. Talbot
recalled hearing how one whaler got his foot cut off after
becoming entangled in the outgoing rope, leaving no
doubt that TCI whalers faced the same dangers as other
whalers back in the day.
Typically, the whales would be hauled to “Whale
Island,” a spit of land barely above sea level about 200
feet (70 meters) from the shore of Salt Cay’s northeast
windward side. There, the whalers cut up and dispersed
meat to the people who would preserve it by first soaking
it in salt water and then leaving it out to dry—necessary in
the absence of refrigeration. “In the late 1800s,” Mr. Dunn
said, “Salt Cay had a population of almost 1,000 people
and imported nearly all of its food. So hauling in a massive
whale could feed everyone for months.” One can easily
imagine a festive scene of the whole island gathering to
watch the spectacle and anticipating the meal they would
soon enjoy. Only ruins remain of a stone house where this
took place, leaving just enough to step back to the days
when Salt Cay celebrated its intrepid whalers.
Perhaps the most intriguing connection to whales,
however, is the story of Salt Cay islanders dipping their
infant children in the blood of a whale in the belief that
the child would be infused with the strength of the whale.
The ritual was first reported in the 2001/2002 Winter issue
of Times of the Islands, in the story, “Whale Watching” by
Marsha Pardee Woodring, and sourced to long time Salt
Cay resident and TCI historian Josiah Marvel.
While TCI whaling has long gone, the wonderment for
whales never ceased, and neither did the encounters. Mr.
Talbot recalled some 40 years ago when he captained a
sloop from Grand Turk to Salt Cay. Along the way, a whale
unexpectedly headed straight for the boat in a scene right
out of Moby Dick and the Essex. Seeing the aggressive
approach, Mr. Talbot managed to tack the boat away from
the on-coming whale, thereby minimizing the impact. He
then sailed toward a shallow reef where the whale could
not follow, and got away unscathed.
Schoolchildren on Grand Turk and Salt Cay have grown
up with the lore of the whales. When the whales breach
just offshore—especially from Salt Cay where the school
is just 300 feet (90 meters) from the beach—teachers let
students out to witness this gift of nature bequeathed to
them, a childhood memory of astonishment remembered
well into adulthood.
Islands of the Eastern Caribbean—Dominica, St. Lucia, St.
Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada—have all hunted
whales at some time. Of these, the small island of Bequia,
the northernmost island of the Grenadines, held on tightest
to the tradition—from 1875 right up to the present.
For most of the second half of the 20th century, whaler
Athneal Ollivierre dominated the hunt, plunging hand harpoons
into the whales just like they did in the 1800s. To
help guide him, Islanders would run along a ridge flashing
mirrors to signal the direction the whale was swimming. As
once happened in Grand Turk and Salt Cay, the captured
whale is even today brought to the shore and divided up
among the community to great rejoicing.
Aboriginal peoples in Greenland, Siberia, and Alaska
also hunt whales throwing hand-held harpoons as their
ancestors did one or two thousand years ago, though
now most use grenades on the harpoons to hasten the
death. But these small whaling communities take very few
whales and hardly threaten the population. Hence, the
International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) allowance for
aboriginal whalers, that includes, interestingly, the whalers
of Bequia (though not without skeptics questioning how
“aboriginal” has been applied).
Far more important for the IWC is the protection of
whales from larger scale whaling. Established in 1946, the
IWC develops policies and agreements for whale conservation,
but leaves for individual countries to adopt and
enforce them, such as the US through the Endangered
Species Act. Those efforts, however, are challenged and
undercut by Japan, Norway, and Iceland who claim sustainable
whaling as a cultural heritage. Recently, these
nations increased the catch of minke whales once the IWC
took them off the endangered list. Japan, in particular, has
succeeded in getting an IWC exception to kill whales for
“scientific” research and sell the meat for consumption.
To bolster its position, Japan has provided significant
development aid to some Eastern Caribbean countries. The
unstated quid-pro-quo? Become IWC members and vote
in favor of Japanese government initiatives to allow limited
whaling. For hard-pressed Caribbean island nations,
including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the choice
etween whales and a people sinking further into poverty
The sentiment to protect whales and the proclivity
to kill them clashed openly in 2017, pitting well-heeled
First World people against the hunters. After docking in
St. Vincent, passengers from a Thompson Cruises ship
signed up for a whale watching excursion off the coast. To
their initial delight, they came across a pod of four orcas
(also known as killer whales). As the whale watching boat
approached, a fishing boat arrived and began harpooning
and killing two of the whales in front of the horrified tourists
who, along with their captain, screamed for them to
stop, but to no avail.
Although the incident may put pressure on St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, local pride and defiance of outsiders
who try to tell them what to do may well prevail, at least
for now. Proponents of limited whaling pose a provocative
question: Why should whales, if not endangered, receive
more protection from slaughter than other animals butchered
on an industrial scale with hardly more humaneness?
More to the point: Why do big brainy, anthropomorphic
animals get spared, while the less attractive, dumb ones
that don’t beguile us with wonder end up on our dinner
plate without a second thought? Is this not cultural bigotry,
they ask, by nations that once profited mightily from
whales they hunted to the brink of extinction?
A place for whales
The debate over killing whales may soon become moot.
As chemical pollutants in the ocean such as mercury, PCB
and DDT “biomagnify” up the food chain to whales, these
toxins get stored first in the fleshy whale blubber. Then,
in times of stress when food is scarce, the blubber breaks
down to provide an energy supply that in turn releases
the toxins into the rest of the body, causing even greater
toxic concentrations. When whale cows give birth, a significant
portion of the toxins are passed on to the calf that
can severely impact growth and development. According
to OceanCare, an international organization dedicated to
protecting marine wildlife, the mercury, PCB, and DDT levels
exceed thresholds of safe consumption up to 5,000
times, making whale meat unsuitable for humans. Hunting
whales for food, thus, becomes pointless.
Meanwhile, other elements of the modern world
threaten whale populations globally. Drift nets entangle
and kill whales along with other forms of marine life.
Large ship engines disorient whales, whose hearing is their
primary way of navigating the seas and communicating
with other whales, thus interfering with their migration
patterns. More ships on the high seas moving at greater
speeds means more collisions that kill and maim whales
in their path. Sonar testing by the US and other navies
to improve detection of enemy submarines further exacerbates
noise pollution with bursts up to 235 decibels
that can cause whales to beach themselves. The US Navy
has recently placed restrictions on time and place to test
anti-submarine sonar, and Navy warships now broadcast
messages to commercial ships with locations of whale
sightings to reduce collisions. This reduces the killing but
doesn’t stop it.
There is some good news amidst the despair.
Humpback whales appear to be recovering in the Turks &
Caicos Islands. The slight increase in numbers of humpbacks
suggests that TCI continues to be a sought-after and
viable habitat where whales can return year after year to
calve and mate during the winter months.
Neither the humpback recovery nor TCI as a “destination”
for these whales can be taken for granted, however.
More cruise ship passengers and other tourists anxious
for the “chance of a lifetime” to see and perhaps swim
with these leviathans has resulted in a corresponding
jump in whale watching boaters without proper training to
approach whales. Too many boats up close put enormous
stress on the humpbacks, particularly mother whales who
have just given birth and need rest to conserve energy for
the trek north.
The time has come for TCI to formally create a National
Whale Sanctuary that protects and nurtures these astonishing
humpbacks. Drawing on the experience of responsible
whale watching operators and marine biologists, a sanctuary
can become an unspoiled space where humans and
cetaceans meet ever so gently. Not incidentally, limited,
upscale whale tourism of this kind also produces substantial
revenue. Few places on the planet can match TCI for
the experience of being with whales who fill us with reverence
and awe, as happened on Captain Kell’s boat, but
only if we hold dear this fragile treasure that frequents our
Ben Stubenberg (email@example.com.) is a contributing
writer to Times of the Islands with a passion for TCI history.
An avid ocean man, he is the co-founder of the sports
and adventure company Caicu Naniki and the annual
Turks & Caicos “Race for the Conch” Eco-SeaSwim.
Special thanks to the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Foundation, Oscar Talbot, and Tim Dunn for providing
essential materials for this article.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 47
Opposite page: Humpback tails, or flukes, are a way to identify specific whales. Each tail is different from any other, like fingerprints.
Above: It is incredible to see an adult humpback breaching, and when you hear the thunderous boom it makes, you will never forget the sound.
Spending a season with the humpback whales.
Story & Photos By Kelly Currington
The stillness of the water is broken and silence gives way to the sound of a low, powerful groan as air
is being expelled from the lungs of a creature at an approximate speed of 200 mph . . . and the spell is
cast. There are few things in this world that truly humble you, make you realize you are just a tiny part
of the greater picture. Being in the presence of a creature weighing up to 40 tons and 40 feet in length
reminds you of this and changes your heart and soul.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 49
Meeting a humpback whale face-to-face, especially a calf, is a moment that will leave a permanent mark on your soul.
Imagine slipping quietly over the side of the tender
into the sea, putting your face in the water and seeing the
silhouette of a massive creature below you. The silhouette
slowly gets more defined as the animal inches towards
the surface for a breath. Your heart stops beating, your
breathing is paused, the only sound you can hear is your
own heart pounding, and every ounce of you is focused
on the movement—a moment that will leave a permanent
mark on your soul. And just when you think that moment
can’t get more impressionable, her calf comes into focus.
There are really no words that can describe the feelings
and emotions of that second in time.
When one of these mammoths of the sea makes eye
contact, you feel the awareness and intelligence within
them. You feel their curiosity about you, and their gentleness
in your presence. You know instantly that they could
harm you if they chose to, but feel no fear that they will.
Instead, you are filled with a sense of peace.
These magnificent animals are North Atlantic
humpback whales and they migrate annually from the
northeastern United States and Norway, usually starting
around January, down the eastern coast, through the
Bahamas and around the Turks & Caicos Islands, settling
in the Silver Bank, Navidad Bank, and Samana Bay
off of the Dominican Republic. The migration’s purpose
is to mate or give birth depending on the previous season.
They mate one year and give birth the next, and the
return migration is usually complete by the end of April.
They come to these whale sanctuaries to mate and
give birth because there are no predators. They are safe
in these shallow banks to teach their calves how to be
whales and to build their strength for the long migration
back to their feeding grounds up north.
Humpback whales get their name from the distinct
“hump” in their back. North Atlantic humpbacks are distinguishable
from other humpbacks because the topside
of their pectoral fins is white, where others are black.This
white is very visible in the water because it reflects as a
brilliant aquamarine. This is what made it easy for whalers
to hunt them. The space between those two aquamarine
fins was called “the hunter’s mark”—if they aimed at that
spot it was almost always a kill. Thankfully these days,
it’s simply a beautiful characteristic of these creatures
that whale watchers and scientists get to experience.
Grand Slam Times Winter 2018_Layout 1 11/14/18 8:36 PM Page 1
Humpbacks have the longest pectoral fins of any
whale, reaching up to one-third of the length of their
body. Humpback tails, or flukes, are also a way to identify
specific whales. Each tail is different from any other,
like fingerprints. Where a humpback is white, it will scar
black, and where they are black, it will scar white, making
each one unique. Another interesting fact is that each
type of whale creates a specific blow, the action of exhaling
at the surface. Very fittingly, the humpback’s blow is
in the shape of a heart created by their split “nostrils.” As
the exhalation pushes air, water, and oily mucus (snot)
into the sunlight, it creates a rainbow in the mist . . . or
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This close-up of the blowhole shows the whale’s split “nostrils.”
It is incredible to see an adult humpback pec slapping, tail
slapping, and breaching, and when you hear the thunderous
boom it makes, you will never forget the sound. They
are teaching their young to be whales—these skills will
strengthen them and instill the communication related to
each one of these actions. When the calves are first learning
they are clumsy and awkward, but when they finally
figure it out they will repeat the action over and over and
over again like excited kids who are showing off! So fun
The sacrifices the females make to endure this
journey are tremendous. Once they reach the sanctuaries,
they don’t eat for months because there is no food
source for them. This causes them to lose up to a third
of their body weight, all while feeding their calves about
150 gallons of fat-rich milk a day. They are trying to give
their calves the absolute best chance of survival during
their return migration, where they will encounter many
threats—the biggest threat being orcas. Orcas hunt baby
humpbacks and kill them solely to eat their tongues. The
mothers know their calves will have to be strong and have
endurance to survive this journey. Other threats they may
encounter are being struck by ships, entanglement in
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 51
This humpback whale calf is likely learning to breach under its mother’s watchful eye.
nets and debris, ingesting plastic, and starving if something
happens to their mother.
I was privileged to have spent two seasons in the
Silver Bank, guiding and filming these gentle giants, and
my heart and soul were deeply affected. The harsh reality
is that only about 50% of calves survive the migration
back. For those of us who get to know these whales on a
very personal level, this is a sad truth.
During their passage around the Turks & Caicos
Islands the largest numbers come close to Salt Cay, where
you can see them daily from whale watching boats and
from shore, where they are visible breaching. You may
also be lucky enough to have topside encounters and
(possibly) in-water encounters on dives off any of the
islands and cays there.
Even if you don’t see them, you will definitely hear
their song underwater. It is a beautiful sound that resonates
through your entire body, you feel it in every organ.
There are many speculations as to why the males sing—
whether it’s to attract a mate, to warn other pursuing
males, or just because they enjoy it. The song changes
a little each year and every seven years the song has
changed completely. Hearing this song envelops your
senses. It takes over everything at that moment. You
close your eyes and stop exhaling so you can hear it without
clutter, then open your eyes and try to visually locate
the singer, and no other creature you see at that moment
can thwart your focus on the song.
Some say that the mythical song of mermaids was the
song of the humpback and I can see why—it’s mesmeriz-
ing. I have heard their song many times and I can assure
you that every time you hear it, it moves you as intensely
as the first time—it’s beautiful and emotional.
The calves are playful and curious with humans under
the watchful eye of their mothers and escorts. They will
come in close to snorkelers, pivot and spin and make eye
contact. They are very interested in what these strange
creatures are in their home. The mothers and escorts
tend to keep their distance and let the calves explore
as long as they feel comfortable. The feeling of having
a 10–15 foot baby approach you, look at you, and connect
on a level that cannot be explained is incredible. You
know you are a tiny piece of the puzzle of life and that
you are experiencing a moment few will ever know. You
will hold on to this moment for the rest of your life.
Humpback whales are powerful creatures who can
completely launch themselves out of the water in what
is called a “breach.” They can travel massive distances
using their fluke to thrust them forward at speeds up to
15 mph. Yet they are so aware of their body placement
that they can approach you and move their fins with precision
to not touch you while never changing their body
Another display of their control and intelligence is
what we refer to as “Rowdies” —a group of males pursuing
a single female. The power and determination of
these boys are evident in their displays of dominance and
strength as they challenge each other with massive bouts
of “bubble streaming.” This is creating a huge bubble
curtain intended to prevent the other males from being
able to see the female, breaking another male’s breathing
pattern so he will fall behind to catch his rhythm again,
and by bumping each other to break stride.
With all this power, they are also very polite suitors.
The female always leads the chase, and if or when she
slows down or stops, all the males stop and hold their
position until she moves forward again. There is no evidence
that the males ever try to cause mortal injuries to
each other, but instead engage in fairly gentlemen-like
Once a male has been successful in wooing his lady
of choice, they start a tender and gentle dance we call the
“Valentine.” This dance is extremely physical and textile.
The whales use their pectoral fins to touch each other,
they rub their bodies together and slowly twirl and move
fluently together, keeping contact as if dancing a slow
romantic and passionate dance. (This is the equivalent of
humans holding hands and touching each other in a sort
of foreplay role before the mating starts.) There is very
obvious affection and tenderness between these creatures
and it is an absolute honor to witness. They are in
every sense of the words, Gentle Giants.
Each of the hundreds of encounters I’ve had in
the Silver Bank with these creatures is special and has
touched me in very intense emotional ways. The one I
will leave you with is an experience I had on a dive in the
Turks & Caicos. It is one that I feel with as much emotion,
power, and intensity today as the day it occurred.
I was on a dive off the northwest point of
Providenciales at a site called Eel Garden. We were about
35–40 minutes into the dive and we had made our way
back under the boat. The faint sounds of the songs in
the distance had serenaded us the entire dive. The sound
comes in and vibrates off the sheer wall and is easy to
hear. At this point, most divers had already started their
ascent, so there were only five of us still down.
We were on top of the edge of the wall when I suddenly
heard the song much louder and closer. I moved
out over the depths and floated in a state of neutral
buoyancy. My vision was suddenly filled with violet blue
movement as a massive school of creole wrasse and blue
runners engulfed me. I had dubbed these violet clouds as
“Purple Rain” because they seem to fall from the surface
like beautiful raindrops all around you. I looked around at
the other divers who had joined me in suspension off the
wall. We all just floated there, weightless and motionless,
paralyzed by the indescribable beauty we were witnessing.
Tears filled my eyes as I watched the purple rain and
listened to the magical sounds of the humpback, and the
one thought that went through my mind was, “If these are
my last moments on Earth, I am at complete peace.”
Even though I could not physically see the singer, I
could feel him, and his song moved me because I had
shared the whales’ presence and looked them in the eye
and understood their plight. This is the magic of the
humpback whale, gentle giants of the sea.
There are a number of land-based whale watching
operators in the Turks & Caicos that will take you out for
a chance sighting of these mammoths of the sea. Salt
Cay, Grand Turk, and Providenciales are the main islands
for whale watching excursions within the country.
There are only two places in the world where there
are permits to snorkel with these amazing creatures:
the Silver Bank and the Kingdom of Tonga in Polynesia.
In the Silver Bank, you can have these experiences with
the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II, the Turks and Caicos
Explorer, and the Belize Aggressor. They have held
permits for years and are very skilled in sharing these
magnificent creatures with guests. They are more than
just “snorkeling with humpback” charters—they are
educational experiences that will empower you to help
protect these amazing animals and the oceans they call
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 53
exploring the islands
Opposite page: Salt Cay has the TCI’s best preserved salt industry remains. Every pond has the low stone walls that divided it into salinas,
where the water was gradually evaporated to produce salt.
Above: At Dunscombe Point there is good snorkeling offshore and a late 1700s cannon from the wreck of the HMS Endymion.
Finding the Salt of the Earth
Discovering the “Old Caribbean” on Salt Cay
Providenciales is an amazing island. It has truly become one of the top vacation destinations for the
Americas and the rest of the world. With its world-class beaches, restaurants and other amenities, it
has everything one could desire in a beach location. But the Turks & Caicos Islands are much more than
“Provo.” Many want to experience the “old” Caribbean, which is very hard to find on Providenciales but
the very essence of Salt Cay (www.saltcay.org).
Story & Photos By Mat Matlack
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 55
The Tradewinds Guest Suites are oceanfront, with amazing snorkeling a short walk from your front door.
Getting to Salt Cay
Since hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 blasted across
the Turks & Caicos, the outer islands have spent the
past 18 months rebuilding. We heard that Salt Cay was
ready for visitors again and we weren’t disappointed. The
airport on Salt Cay is limited to smaller planes (a nineseater
to be exact) due to the number of fire trucks on the
island. There isn’t direct service from Providenciales on
interCaribbean Airways, so one flies through Grand Turk.
It’s a 40-minute trip with some great views of East and
South Caicos from the air. Once aboard the small Otter
to Salt Cay, the flight took three minutes! Caicos Express
Airways may start a direct flight from Providenciales to
Salt Cay later this summer.
We arranged accommodations through Debbie Manos to
stay at Tradewinds Guest Suites (www.tradewinds.tc).
Debbie, an expatriate from Tucson, AZ, picked us up at
the airport and took us on a tour of Balfour Town, the
village on Salt Cay. She is a wealth of knowledge since she
began visiting in 1990 and eventually moved to the isle
in 1996. Debbie was attracted to Salt Cay by the amazing
SCUBA diving and world-renowned whale watching, but
kept returning due to the friendly, welcoming nature of
everyone on the cay.
Eventually she bought and ran local dive shop Salt
Cay Divers for 23 years and also opened the Coral Reef
Bar & Grill where local chef, Enye Guerreir, honed his
skills (more about the amazing food in a bit).
Unfortunately, the Coral Reef’s building has been
damaged by swells created by Nor’easters that made it
past the harbor wall damaged during the 2017 hurricanes.
Debbie ran us by one of the three island stores to
pick up some supplies and then showed us to our home
for two nights.
Tradewinds has a lot to offer Salt Cay travelers and
one of the most important things is location. You are
oceanfront! Literally, grab your snorkel and fins, walk 10
yards out your front door and you’re feet away from
amazing snorkeling. Tradewinds is also walking distance
to the dive shop, Netty’s Variety Store, and favorite island
hangout, Oceanaire Bistro.
Our one-bedroom suite had what we needed to be
comfortable. These suites are well equipped for divers
with a large screened porch to store wet equipment, a
foot bath to clean the sand from your feet and a nice seating
area inside, along with a comfortable place to lay your
head—until tomorrow morning’s adventure on the water!
The suites offer a small kitchenette with fridge, toaster
oven, microwave, toaster, coffeemaker (coffee included!)
and plenty of dishes. The private bath is where you find
the sink and large shower with toiletries. The bedroom
had air conditioning available, but with the island breeze,
we simply kept our windows open. We also enjoyed Wi-Fi
to check emails, upload to Instagram and watch an episode
or two of our favorite sailing vloggers before bed.
We ate most of our meals at Oceanaire Bistro (oceanairebistro.com).
The restaurant is perfectly located in the
center of town just a few hundred feet from the dock
and dive shop. It offers open-air dining overlooking the
historic salinas and the screened-in dining rooms enjoy
beautiful ocean breezes too. There is a deck with tables
under palm trees where you can enjoy a cold drink with
breakfast, lunch or dinner and a rooftop viewing patio
that provides views of the ocean and most of the island.
Remember Chef Enye? This gentleman’s cooking
skills are only surpassed by his smile. Oceanaire Bistro
offers some of the best dining we’ve had in the TCI. His
red snapper with a tomato-based sauce was delightful
and didn’t stand a chance to last on my plate very long.
Shannon, my wife, had the cracked conch for our first
meal and raved about how light and tasty the breading
was. We, of course, had peas ‘n’ rice with our meals which
also included a salad.
Great food is enough for any restaurant. Add good
service and you’ll have a success. When you also include
warm and welcoming personalities to the atmosphere—
you are going to have a winner that lasts the test of time.
Cracked conch and peas ‘n’ rice—it doesn’t get more Turks & Caicos than this—and the meal at Oceanaire Bistro was cooked to perfection.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 57
This view looks towards the old Windmills Plantation hotel on North Beach and across the channel towards Grand Turk.
Owners Bob and Lynn Knobel were regular visitors to
Salt Cay enjoying the diving by day and the community
at night. Porter’s Island Thyme was the local restaurant
and bar where all the divers would gather to exchange
stories from the day and to plan tomorrow’s adventure.
In a strange turn of events, Bob and Lynn purchased the
closed Island Thyme restaurant to be used as their home.
But, with the urging of Chef Enye and their own realization
that Salt Cay’s beloved hangout was gone, the couple
decided to reopen the space as Oceanaire Bistro. We are
so happy they did.
We really underestimated all there would be to do on
the island. We aren’t certified divers (yet) and we didn’t
have our snorkel gear with us—the water was probably
too cold this time of year for Shannon, anyhow. So, what
could we do with 36 hours on this tiny island?
After our morning coffee, we took our golf cart that
Debbie had arranged for us all over the island. We had
several must-see’s on our list and began knocking them
out at a pace that allowed us to soak in the vibe of everywhere
we went with intentionality.
Windmills Plantation hotel
We’re a sucker for a beautiful beach, so headed to the
old Windmills Plantation hotel ruins on North Beach. The
resort was destroyed in 2008 by Hurricane Ike. But, oh
my, this beach is gorgeous. We could see a cruise ship
across the channel docked on Grand Turk. (There are
no signs of cruise ships on Salt Cay and as Debbie likes
to say, “We have no C’s. No cruise ships, no crime, no
crowds, no casinos.”) It was sad to see the devastation of
this hotel. We found some pictures of it online during its
heyday and it was beautiful.
Dunscombe Point offers some great snorkeling right off
the shore. There are rock formations and a nice area
to picnic on the beach. Also at this location is a Haitian
boat that wrecked on the island a few months ago. The
incident made international news and created quite the
surprise for local residents when dozens of new faces
showed up on the island.
We understand there are about 36 different types of birds
on the island. Birdwatching is a favorite thing to do for
many Salt Cay travelers. The eastern side of the island is
where the North Creek and South Creek converge into
shallow waters. We passed by the 1795 Government
House on our way to find dozens of flamingos at “the
creek.” We loved watching the waves crash against the
rocks protecting the inland waterways and viewing the
beaches literally made of millions of seashells.
One of the highest points on the island is Taylor Hill. The
oad is a bit rough to get there, but our golf cart handled
it well. The small hike up the hill was well worth it
once we saw the views and the ruins were mysterious. It
appears to have been some kind of plantation with hundreds
of man-hours spent clearing the land and building
bordering fences with the rocks. There are about a dozen
rock mounds that are all the same size. Our inquiry of
the locals revealed no concrete information on what the
purpose of the mounds were. Burial mounds? Signal fires?
Voodoo rituals? Alien communiques? These require more
There is a very nice home on the island that has built
its property wall in a strange arch shape. This was done
in order to go around some existing graves that are
rumored to be of pirates. No one knows who is, in fact,
buried there. The three graves are of different sizes and
could be a man, a woman and possibly a child. You’ll
pass by these above-ground graves on your way to the
old lighthouse site on the northwest point.
The lighthouse is long gone and barely any ruins remain
to mark its previous location. However, there is a newly
installed wooden post on top of the hill which appears
to be the highest point on the island. Nearby is a canon
perched on the edge of the cliff. The ground isn’t very
stable there and it was recommended not to get too
close. This remains one of the spots on the island needing
attention after the hurricane. We understand that the
primary school and government buildings are earmarked
to receive government assistance, along with the harbor
which is vital to the community of Salt Cay. We were also
told that Beaches Resorts may be providing support to
get the community gathering space back in shape, but
this has not been confirmed.
Salt Cay Days celebration
We left the morning that begins the annual Salt Cay Days
celebration. This weekend event brings visitors from
other islands to enjoy great music, wonderful eats and
the charm of the old Caribbean.
Again, our fantastic host Debbie Manos gave us a ride to
the airport, along with her dogs, including Zorro the potcake.
Our only regret is not having more time. We wish we
could have had a few hours of beach time on the North
The donkeys that roam across Salt Cay are descendants of the animals
that worked during the salt producing days.
Beach and snorkeling on the reef. We wanted to stop by
to meet the lady who still makes salt right from the salinas
and we hoped to spend time with Tim, a descendent
of some of the original salt plantation owners. He is currently
renovating the family home (the White House). The
entire bottom floor was where the salt was kept and the
family lived on the upper floor.
So, break away from the norm for a few days to visit
Salt Cay. (Unless you are a diver or whale watcher — then,
you’re going to need at least a week.) Whale watching
season is mid-January through mid-April and the island
now boasts two companies providing tours to see the
humpbacks. Dickenson’s store is well stocked where we
found bottled water, almond milk and macaroon cookies!
Bring a sack of carrots for the wild donkeys. They will
love you for it, but don’t leave them unattended on your
golf cart. We learned that the hard way! a
Mat and Shannon Matlack hail from Columbia, Missouri.
Avid world travelers and vloggers, the couple has focused
on the Caribbean in recent years. They adopted two potcakes
and have a love for island dogs plus a passion for
protecting the ocean’s fragile, yet extremely important,
ecosystem. Their five-year-old daughter sometimes joins
them on the adventures. (Visit TheMatlacks.org).
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 59
faces and places
From left: This budding local DJ from the Edward Gartland Youth Centre is learning the ropes with DJ Munro and Caribbean House Evolution
founder Johnny Legend. The festival also welcomes Silky who has established a sterling reputation as an artist through an impressive catalogue
of releases and a long list of club and festival appearances.
Caribbean House Evolution 2019
It’s year seven for this four-day house music festival here in Turks & Caicos, held on July 18–21, 2019. The festival
celebrates friends, vacations and house music. Evolving from a small private series of parties in 2012, it now attracts
international DJs, as well as providing the local community and visitors with house music from around the world.
Sponsors include Larry Klein Productions, The Hartling Group, Grace Bay Resorts, Royal West Indies, Somewhere
Café and Lounge, Kalooki’s, Wymara Resort and Villas, IGA, The Wine Cellar, Panoply, Glow, Blufin and more. It all
starts with the DJ Workshop for kids from the Edward Gartland Youth Centre and VIP Opening Party at The Shore Club.
Next is the Club Night Party at Sandbox, a Yoga Brunch Session and Sunset Mix at Somewhere Café and Lounge, a
dinner at Wymara, and the ultimate Private Island Beach Party at Water Cay on the final day.
Founder Johnny Legend says, “I’m so thankful to have the support of local businesses and proud to see the festival
grow year on year. For me, music makes all things possible. Each year I introduce new acts and talent found locally and
internationally and I’m always overwhelmed by the response and energy. Funds raised in 2019 will go towards music
equipment for the Edward Gartland Youth Centre’s planned music studio. As someone who used music as an escape
From left: New to the festival for 2019, DJ Rashida has played her signature fusion of hip-hop, funk, soul, dancehall
and house around the globe. Local children are eager to learn so they can follow in her footsteps.
in my youth, I
healing powers. I
can’t wait to see
how these talented
kids use the equipment
to create beautiful
music of their
own.” For more
newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
front street, p.o. box 188, grand turk, turks & caicos islands, bwi
tel 649 946 2160 • fax 649 946 2160 • email email@example.com • web www.tcmuseum.org
One Big Journey
By Michael P. Pateman, Ph.D., Director, Turks & Caicos National Museum
Over the last year, a lot of space
has been dedicated to the development
of the new museum in
Providenciales. That journey has
focused on the physical building,
the role and importance of museums
in communities, and the
future of the National Museum
building. However, there has not
been much discussion of what will
be displayed there.
Under the concept “Five
Galleries, One Big Journey,” the
new museum will display a wide
variety of Turks & Caicos history,
heritage and culture in the space of
Entrance and Welcome; Natural
History; Pre-Columbian; Transatlantic Slave Trade and Modern Ethnography.
The stories presented in our galleries intend to take visitors beyond the beach to a curious place,
where they can keep exploring. The exhibitions housed here will change periodically as the Museum
embraces collaborations with fellow institutions and as it seeks to enhance community relations.
A huge part of the new museum is the development of an educational space. We intend to use the
emerging technology of virtual reality to create digital exhibitions and digital learning experiences. Over
the next several editions of the Astrolabe, we will expand on the details. We haven’t abandoned Grand
Turk! New and enhanced exhibits are also planned for the Grand Turk museum as well.
In this edition of Astrolabe, the feature article discusses the Museum’s new oral history initiative.
This project seeks to allow Islanders to tell their story in their own words. The second article is a collaborative
project with the Museum and longtime contributor Dr. Shaun Sullivan on the Lucayans in the
Turks & Caicos Islands.
This is indeed an exciting time to be a part of the Turks & Caicos National Museum! a
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 61
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Alton Higgs, “Da Bush Doctor” from Middle Caicos, shared his extensive knowledge of bush medicine as part of “People of the Islands,” the
TCI National Museum’s new oral history/ethnography project.
Bold & Unapologetic
People of the Islands in front of the lens.
By Michael P. Pateman and Vanessa A. Pateman
“People of the Islands” is the National Museum’s new oral history/ethnography program. This project
seeks to tell the story of “Islanders” of the Bahama Archipelago through their own voice, with a first person
narrative. Oral histories are stories that living individuals tell about their past, or the past of other people.
The purpose of the Museum’s research is to attempt to understand what is happening naturally and to
interpret the data gathered to see what implications could be formed regarding the culture and heritage
of the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands.
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
The first island of the archipelago (Eleuthera, in the
Bahamas) was settled by Bermudians looking for religious
freedom in 1647. It wasn’t until 1681 that salt rakers
from Bermuda seasonally settled Grand Turk to begin salt
raking. In 1766 the Turks & Caicos were a part of the
Bahama colony and was placed under the administration
of the Bahamian Government. Attempts to integrate the
two distinct communities failed, and in 1874 after the
Great Bahama Hurricane devastated much of the archipelago,
the Turks & Caicos Islands became a dependency
to the British Crown Colony of Jamaica. After Jamaican
independence in 1962, the Turks & Caicos returned to
Bahamian control until Bahamian independence in 1973.
Although the island groups have remained separate
administratively (Grand Turk continued as the administrative
capital of the Turks & Caicos during Bahamian
governance), there are many cultural and familiar relationships
between the islands. Additionally, there have
been multiple migratory periods of large amounts of people
between the island groups. As a result, Bahamians
and “Belongers” share similar ancestry, cultural traditions,
food and dialect. Presently, there are no studies
that explore these relationships—therefore both island
group claim to be the original home of multiple forms of
cultural expressions that are only found in the Bahama
archipelago in its present form.
Boat building, sailing and navigation
Everyone learned to swim, build model boats on the bay
outside their homes and eventually graduated to building
or sailing larger Caicos sloops. For almost 300 years,
the inhabitants of the Turks & Caicos Islands depended
on small sloops for their commerce, fishing and transportation.
These native boats have generally been small
because of limitations imposed on them by the shallow
waters surrounding the Islands and the scarcity of suitable
The largest of these sloops were approximately 30
feet overall and were used to haul local products such as
salt, dried conch and sisal to ships anchored offshore.
Additionally, these sloops were used for inter-island
transportation. They regularly traveled to Haiti, the
Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
Changing commercial needs and modern transportation
between the Islands have made the native sloops all
Boat building was crucial to the development of the Turks & Caicos
Islands. From top: Headley Forbes shares a photo of the last boat he
built. James Dean, a master boat builder from Blue Hills, Providenciales
also participated in the Museum’s project.
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 63
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
but obsolete. With this change, the skills associated with
construction and sailing such craft are now possessed by
only a handful of men scattered throughout the Islands.
Medicine, music and much more
There was no hospital on the Islands until recently, so
people used indigenous medicine to heal the sick and
wounded. This “bush medicine” was made from herbs,
plants, barks, roots and sometimes animal products.
The various concoctions are said to have abilities ranging
from curing the common cold, improving the chances
of getting pregnant, and even curing cancer. This island
knowledge was passed down through the generations.
Not only was bush medicine passed down through
generational knowledge, but ways of storytelling—specifically
musical traditions—were shared. This musical
cultural expression is originally known as Ripsaw. Oral
tradition in the Turks & Caicos says that it originated
in these islands and spread to nearby islands such as
the Bahamas and has been rebranded as Rake-n-Scrape.
Bahamian oral tradition tells the story in reverse, that
Rake-n-Scrape originated in the Bahamas, especially Cat
Island, and spread to the Turks & Caicos. People of the
Islands will explore these stories further. While we might
not solve the mystery of where Ripsaw or Rake-n-Scrape
originated, we will explore the unique sounds of both
musical forms as told by the musicians themselves.
Engaging the community
This project helps to fulfill one of the major goals of the
Museum—engaging the Turks & Caicos community. One
of the resulting end products, the “People of the Islands”
ethnography film, is a way for the Museum to present and
show understanding of the cultural heritage of the TCI
from the inside out, as we give a voice to the people who
have shaped the country. This documentary will include
dialect via recorded speech by people in the community.
When this speech is in a language unfamiliar or unclear to
the intended film audience, the producers generally use
voice-over translation or subtitles.
“People of the Islands” will be a description of TCI
culture and traditions with a focus on the people who
Opposite page from top: Musician and songwriter Lovey Forbes is one
of TCI’s cultural icons. Here he is performing at the Valentine’s Cup
Model Boat Races in 2019. Grand Turk native Shirley Brown is a former
nurse and dancer. Museum Director Michael Pateman interviews
Lovie Forbes for the “People of the Islands” project.
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
live within the Islands, including their personal adaptation,
their success and an understanding of how culture
shaped this. In as much as cultures are constantly changing,
the history and context (interrelated issues, settings,
environment and social relationships) play important
roles in the lives of individuals in determining the webs
of significance. Ethnographic research is also done in an
attempt to discover patterns in human behavior. One of
the main advantages of the documentary is that it will
help the Museum to identify and analyze research data.
We’re conducting other types of studies, which are not
based on in-situ observation or interaction.
According to the American Anthropological
Association, “Anthropologists . . . have obligations to
the scholarly discipline, to the wider society and culture,
and to the human species, other species, and the environment.”
Ethnography is the bread and butter of social
(and cultural) anthropological analyses and theories. That
is also why most sociocultural anthropologists do fieldwork.
Life as a Belonger
There’s an enduring story to be told from the perspective
of the bold people, called “Belongers,” who carved
out a living within these Islands. They contributed to the
economic growth and development by the sweat of their
brows and the art of their hands. Through the knowledge
and wisdom of bush medicine they healed themselves,
passing all this heritage from one generation to the next.
They left an indelible legacy that must not only be told,
but preserved for the future.
We will continue to share the results of this project
in future editions of Astrolabe, social media channels
and ultimately in new exhibitions in both Grand Turk and
Providenciales. Everyone has a story to tell and it is our
goal to collect these stories. a
Community is defined as a feeling of fellowship with
others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests
and goals; a group of people living in the same
place or having a particular characteristic in common.
One of the main objects of the Turks & Caicos National
Museum is to promote community involvement with
cooperation, respect and participation. The Museum
is where we want to create a place for the community
to have a feeling of belonging and gain knowledge of
why the Islands are like they are, who has lived here in
the past and what they did and why.
Our mission statement lends itself to the very
meaning of community: “The Turks & Caicos National
Museum is a not for profit organization aimed at
recording, interpreting, preserving and celebrating the
history of the Turks & Caicos Islands and its people.”
We offer several community events at both locations
on an annual basis.
Grand Turk children’s club
Sponsored by sales of the children’s book, Where is
Simon, Sandy?, written by Donna Seim, the club is held
monthly on Grand Turk. Activities include art, crafts
If you have a recommendation for an interviewee
for “People of the Islands,” please send us an email at
and projects that focus on the culture, nature, environment
and history of the Turks & Caicos.
The goal is for the children to have fun while learning
more about their past, present and future. Over
the last few months, the Children’s Club has presented
storytelling, learning facts about sea life, drawing, coloring
and painting. During the school break in April
(continued on page 70)
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 65
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Clockwise from top: The South Bank site excavation team included
local volunteers and students, along with archaeologist Dr. Shaun
Sullivan (far right). The circular impressions on this pot sherd are
a decorative motif from the late ceramic period in northwestern
Hispaniola, indicating trade with the Lucayans at the South Bank site.
Students from the BWI Collegiate joined in the excavation.
To the Rescue
Community teamwork investigates early island culture.
By Dr. Shaun D. Sullivan and Dr. Michael P. Pateman ~ Photos Courtesy Turks & Caicos National Museum
In the fall of 2018, local volunteers and students came together in a community effort to record a key part
of the culture of early Turks & Caicos Islanders. They came from nearby homes and schools to search out,
sort and sift ancient artifacts and food remains from the South Bank archaeological site on the western
shore of the Juba Sound estuary.
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Evidence of prehistoric human occupation of the area
around Juba Point was first reported by Theodoor De Booy
in the early 1900s. He was exploring the Islands on behalf
of the Heye Museum of the American Indian in New York
when he found pre-Columbian ceramics and stone artifacts
in caves above the sound behind Long Bay.
Exploring the area downhill from the caves in 1976,
archaeologist Shaun Sullivan came upon Amerindian
ceramics and shell food remains in a grassy area alongside
the original channel for the Caicos Marina, and followed
up with text excavation there in early 1977.
The site was originally recorded as Providenciales–1,
and has come to be renamed the South Bank site.
Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from a firepit encountered
in 1977 provided a calibrated date of AD 1328 +/– 49
years. Imported ceramics encountered indicated contact
with the Amerindians in the Greater Antilles. Locally
made ceramics, Palmetto Ware, were common, classifying
this as a local settled culture, i.e., a Lucayan village site.
Bone remains analyzed at the Florida Museum of Natural
History demonstrated exploitation of fish from the estuary
and near shore environments.
More than 40 years later in the spring of 2018, Sullivan
and Beluga catamaran captain Tim Ainley returned to
the site and found it remarkably undisturbed, in spite
of intervening development surrounding it. A local resident,
Kathi Barrington, wandered by with her dog, and
advised that the site was soon to be converted to housing
and a marina. Concerned by the pending loss of cultural
remains, the developers were contacted.
Coming to appreciate the value of the site, Windward
Long Bay Development Ltd., via Ingo Reckhorn, generously
agreed to fund the bulk of the cost excavations
and analysis to capture key information about the ancient
culture while there was still time. Additional funding and
support came from the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund, the
Anthropological Research Council and Sail Beluga.
A rapid effort was made to inform the local community
of the site’s value and recruit participants in the
rescue archaeology effort. We teamed up with Michael
Pateman and Candianne Williams of the Turks & Caicos
National Museum and reached out to Ethlyn Gibbs of the
Turks & Caicos National Trust; Ludmila Fulford of the TCI
Department of Education; Nicole Caesar, Lormeka Williams
and Eric Salamanca of the TCI Department of Environment
and Coastal Resources, Agile LeVin of Visit TCI and Sylvia
Part of each day’s work by students and volunteers at the South Bank
site included screening excavated soil to uncover artifacts.
Wigglesworth of the BWI Collegiate.
In early October, with a community outreach response
of a dozen local adult residents and several bright and
energetic students from the Collegiate, we launched our
effort to capture the information locked in the earth. We
began each day gathered around our artifact-sorting tables
in the shade of a high canopy to discuss the practical
tasks ahead for that day, as well as the broader theories
surrounding what we were doing. We discussed the prehistory
of the Islands; Lucayan and Taino Indian cultures;
ancient human migrations; anthropology; archaeology;
and the roles of museums and of public participation in
research to assist in creating a sense of cultural continuity
with the past. There were a lot of questions, and the lively
discussions that ensued helped give meaning to our findings
during the excavations.
The youngsters who participated enlivened the
enterprise considerably. They were enthusiastic and
good-natured. They kibitzed and sang while they worked.
We hosted field trips to the archaeological site for more
than half a dozen local elementary and secondary schools,
representatives of the press, local officials and Governor
Freeman. The visiting students were curious and asked
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 67
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
From top: Museum Director Dr. Michael Pateman worked to excavate
and sample the unusual black earth deposit. It may have been manmade,
the result of prehistoric “composting.”
good questions. Some expressed interest in becoming
archaeologists in the future. Community engagement was
a strong part of our plan, and the interaction with schools
and students was an important element of our networking
We dug a score of test pits across the site to determine
the distribution of the subsurface deposits, and
used those results to chose two particularly rich areas,
one north and one south, for controlled excavations. We
cut down carefully, layer by layer, screening and mapping
the deposits and artifacts we encountered, with the students
and volunteers learning to classify and make note of
the materials recovered. We recorded ceramics by number
sherds and weight, distinguishing between locally made
Palmetto Ware and imported ceramics from the Greater
Antilles to the south; obtained charcoal for radiocarbon
dating; preserved animal bones and identified the number
and species of shell remains. We photographed all the
In both the north and south excavation areas we
quickly encountered distinctive concentrations of carbon-stained,
burned and cracked limestone mixed with
broken conch shells. We have come to recognize these as
“earth ovens” which were open pit, broken stone and shell
lined cooking areas, which are a form of Lucayan cultural
deposit that is widely distributed in the Turks & Caicos
and the Bahamas.
The northern excavation produced some intriguing
soil layers (strata). Working downward, a few centimeters
from the surface we encountered a thin layer of very pale
soil, a mixture of sand and marl, which appeared to have
been carried in from the local estuary and spread on the
surface. It would have produced a smooth walking surface
for the Lucayans.
That pale layer capped living debris (midden) that
quickly transitioned to exceptionally black soil. It was so
black it was literally off our soil color chart. The earth
ovens are dark, but this was darker. Without claiming
exact duplication, we note that in lowland South America
at prehistoric sites there are commonly found man-made
(anthropogenic) soils that are very dark; these man-made
soils are termed “terra preta” or “Indian earth.” These terra
preta soils are the result of intentional composting. We
took samples of this black soil from South Bank for analysis.
Michael Pateman focused the excavation effort in the
northern sector on sampling and defining this black earth
We found ceramic fragments scattered throughout
the deposits. We always study ceramics because they
are sturdy and endure. They have stylistic traits in their
form and decoration that evolve through time and spread
through space via trade and the sharing of styles, which
are passed down and across from potter to potter.
One decorative motif on imported ceramics of note
was wide punctation (circular impressions). This was
found on ceramics excavated in 1977 and in our October
2018 dig. Similar decoration was noted on ceramics recovered
by De Booy over a century earlier at the nearby Juba
Point caves, and a nearly identical decoration was found
on imported ceramics at a contemporaneous site on
Middle Caicos, site MC-12. That decorative motif is known
from the late ceramic period in northwestern Hispaniola.
That zone may therefore have been included in the trade
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
network of the Lucayans at the South Bank site.
Today we have methods for extracting information
about diet from ceramics and shell remains. Microscopic
silicon structures from plants (phytoliths) as well as starch
grains, fat remains (lipids) and pollen remain adhered to
some ceramic and shell specimens. We carefully preserved
unwashed ceramics and shells from the South Bank site
for such analysis, which is ongoing at the University of
North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) and at the Florida
Museum of Natural History (FMNH). Among the shells
being analyzed at FMNH are clam shells, Codakia orbicularis,
that show edge chipping from when they were
used for scraping, quite possibly for scraping the skins of
tubers, such as manioc.
Locally made Palmetto Ware ceramics have crushed
shell inclusions (tempering) in the clay that help bind
it together. Coming from the volcanic origin islands to
The edge of this clam shell, Codakia orbicularis, shows that it was
likely used for scraping the skins of tubers, such as manioc.
the south, Cuba and Hispaniola, imported ceramics we
encounter contain igneous and metamorphic grit tempering.
In order to analyze the minerals in the import
tempering, and thereby help trace them back to their
point of origin, we have cut very thin sections of those
ceramics, allowing microscopic examination of the minerals.
This is referred to as petrographic analysis, and is
currently being undertaken at UNCW.
Comparable petrographic analysis of ceramics from
the Greater Antilles is just starting to be conducted by
other researchers, so for the moment we have a limited
comparative base. However, that will change as more such
work is done in the islands to the south. In the near future
we will be better able to trace these imported ceramics
back to their hearth zone, and thus have an expanded
picture of the islanders’ trade networks.
Local Palmetto Ware often has basketry and mat
impressions. We brought in an expert, Charlene
Hutcheson, to help with analysis of these impressions,
and by extension advance depiction of the basketry and
weaving skills of the Lucayans.
Charcoal samples extracted from the midden were
sent to Beta Analytics in Miami for radiocarbon dating.
The three test results indicated a high probability that the
occupation period of the village was between 1300 and
1440 AD, which is consistent with the radiocarbon date
mentioned from the 1977 dig.
Why settle there? Why settle by the mouth of Juba
Sound? The Sound is a rich natural environment, and the
South Bank site is particularly well located to take advantage
of local resources. The site sits in the lee of the high
ironshore at the south end of Long Bay, where canoes
could be landed in calm waters. It sits on deep sandy soil,
upon which it would have been easy to build the pole and
thatch structures of the Lucayans, and within which the
Amerindians could plant their varied crops. A permanent
surface fresh water source is located to the northeast,
at the base of the hill on which are found the Juba Point
caves. The estuary system of the Sound is rich in shellfish,
and the narrow estuary mouth is a natural tidal funnel for
fish and an ideal location for fish traps. Nearby offshore
are banks that have abundant conch, and the patch reefs
host many fish. The bone and shell remains recovered
from the South Bank site indicate that all these resources
and environmental zones were being exploited.
Analysis is ongoing, but here is where we are, and
what we expect to learn. We are strengthening our
understanding of how the Lucayans interacted with their
environment and utilized resources within it; firm dating
of the site between approximately 1300 and 1440
AD helps place the settlement in the context of regional
cultural development and links to contemporaneous
communities; decorative motifs and mineral content of
imported ceramics are enabling refined modeling of trade
ties and networks; and analysis of food residue on bone,
shell and ceramics will expand our understanding of the
Lucayan diet and of the plant and animal species that they
used to fuel their economy.
The South Bank dig was productive, and could not
have been successful without the contributions of local
officials, students and volunteers. It was a true community
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 69
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Museum Matters (continued)
we had a beach fun day. Children of all ages played
games, swam, snorkeled and had lunch. Where is
Simon, Sandy? books are available in the gift shop at
both Museum locations. Cases and half-cases are also
available for sale at wholesale prices.
Provo Museum gala — new in 2019
The Turks and Caicos National Museum Foundation
(TCNMF), with the invaluable support of the Hartling
Group, corporate Turks & Caicos, hosted our inaugural
fundraising gala at the Shore Club on June 8, 2019
under the theme, “Building for the future, to protect the
past.” The goal is to raise funds for the development
of the new National Museum facility in Providenciales.
This event will be the TCNMF’s major fundraiser for the
year and will be held annually.
Museum summer camp
The Provo Summer Camp will be held July 8–12 at
the Village at Grace Bay campus. This fun, free camp
explores history through arts, crafts, games, living history
activities and field trips. The camp is another event
sponsored by the sale of Where is Simon, Sandy? books.
Back in the Day — Village at Grace Bay
This event is held annually on the third Saturday in May
in conjunction with International Museum Day. It is a
celebration of the dynamic heritage and culture of the
Turks & Caicos Islands. The Caicos Heritage homestead
comes alive with the “Back in the Day” theme. Step back
in time with dramatic performances, food, music, dance
and traditional craft.
Grand Turk BBQ & conch fritter cook off
This year’s inaugural event will be held July 20, withprizes
and bragging rights for the winners! The day will
include live music (Island Vibes Band), food, refreshments,
games for the kids and a raffle with great prizes.
Grand Turk summer eco camp
Every summer in conjunction with the TCI Department
of Environment and Coastal Resources, we offer a
week-long club. Daily activities for the kids include
snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and crafts as they learn
about the Islands’ environment. This year’s Eco Camp
is August 12–16, also funded by the sale of Where is
Simon, Sandy? books.
History & cultural heritage quiz
This annual event is held each October in Provo to coincide
with Heritage Month. Schools from all the islands
are invited to participate. In addition to the Challenge
Trophy which is kept at the current winner’s school,
the 2018 prize included a trip to Jamaica to visit the
UNESCO world heritage sites of Blue and John Crow
Mountain, museums, great houses and other historical
sites. Second prize winners spent the day immersed in
history on one of the Turks & Caicos Islands. All of this
is made possible with our many sponsors.
astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum
Museum Day— Grand Turk
November of each year we celebrate the 1991 opening
of the Turks & Caicos National Museum with
Museum Day. The celebration includes food, music,
raffles and special activities for children. Museum
Day for 2019 is November 2.
Various other events
Both Museum locations occasionally offer “Evening
with the Expert” events. Guest speakers, including
archeologists, historians and authors, present lectures
on their area of expertise specifically about the
Join the Museum
Become a Member of the
Turks & Caicos National
Museum and receive a
year’s subscription to Times of the Islands (which
includes Astrolabe), free admission to the Museum
and other benefits.
Senior (62+) $35 • Individual $50
Family/Friend $100 • Sponsor $250
Contributor $500 • Partner $750
We have several options for joining:
Turks & Caicos Islands. Both locations frequently welcome
school groups. The Grand Turk location does
not charge for school group visits and Provo charges
a minimal amount. The Grand Turk museum is creating
a Community Wall Mosaic that reflects all aspects
of island life including history, culture, wildlife and
nature. This will be an ongoing project that will turn
something ordinary into something extraordinary! a
By Lisa Talbot
• Visit the Museum at our Providenciales location at
The Village at Grace Bay or our Grand Turk location
in Guinep House on Front Street.
• Visit our website at
• Send US checks to: Dr. Toni L. Carrell, Friends of
the Turks & Caicos National Museum, 39 Condesa
Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508
*For U.S. residents, support of the Museum may be tax-deductible
if you join via Friends of the Turks & Caicos National
Museum, our affiliated institution and registered 501 (c) (3).
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 71
about the Islands
Map provided courtesy Wavey Line Publishing. Their navigation charts and decorative and historic maps of the Turks & Caicos Islands, the
Bahamas, and Hispaniola are available in shops throughout the Islands. Visit www.amnautical.com.
Where we are
The Turks & Caicos Islands lie some 575 miles southeast
of Miami — approximately 1 1/2 hours flying time — with
the Bahamas about 30 miles to the northwest and the
Dominican Republic some 100 miles to the southeast.
The country consists of two island groups separated
by the 22-mile wide Columbus Passage. To the west are
the Caicos Islands: West Caicos, Providenciales, North
Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, and South Caicos. To
the east are the Turks Islands: Grand Turk and Salt Cay.
The Turks & Caicos total 166 square miles of land
area on eight islands and 40 small cays. The country’s
population is approximately 36,500.
There are international airports on Grand Turk, North
Caicos, Providenciales, and South Caicos, with domestic
airports on all of the islands except East Caicos.
At this time, all of the major international carriers
arrive and depart from Providenciales International Airport.
American Airlines flies from Miami, Charlotte, Chicago,
Dallas, New York/JFK and Philadelphia. JetBlue Airways
offers service from Fort Lauderdale, Boston and New
York/JFK. Southwest Airlines travels to Fort Lauderdale.
Delta Airlines flies from Atlanta and New York/JFK. United
Airlines travels from Chicago and Newark. WestJet travels
from Toronto. Air Canada offer flights from Toronto.
British Airways travels from London/Gatwick via Antigua.
Bahamasair and InterCaribbean Airways fly to Nassau,
Bahamas. Flights to: Antigua; Dominica; Cap Haitien
and Port Au Prince, Haiti; Kingston and Montego Bay,
Jamaica; Miami, Florida; Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo,
Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Lucia; St.
Maarten; Santiago, Cuba; and Tortola are available on
InterCaribbean Airways, while Caicos Express travels to
Cap Haitien daily. (Schedules are current as of June 2019
and subject to change.)
Inter-island service is provided by InterCaribbean
Airways, Caicos Express Airways and Global Airways. Sea
and air freight services operate from Florida.
Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time
The United States dollar. The Treasury also issues a Turks
& Caicos crown and quarter. Travellers cheques in U.S.
dollars are widely accepted and other currency can be
changed at local banks. American Express, VISA, and
MasterCard are welcomed at many locations.
The average year-round temperature is 83ºF (28ºC). The
hottest months are September and October, when the
temperature can reach 90 to 95ºF (33 to 35ºC). However,
the consistent easterly trade winds temper the heat and
keep life comfortable.
Casual resort and leisure wear is accepted attire for
daytime; light sweaters or jackets may be necessary on
some breezy evenings. It’s wise to wear protective clothing
and a sunhat and use waterproof sunscreen when out
in the tropical sun.
Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.
Visitors may bring in duty free for their own use one carton
of cigarettes or cigars, one bottle of liquor or wine,
and some perfume. The importation of all firearms including
those charged with compressed air without prior
approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police is
strictly forbidden. Spear guns, Hawaiian slings, controlled
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 73
drugs, and pornography are also illegal.
Returning residents may bring in $400 worth of
merchandise per person duty free. A duty of 10% to
60% is charged on most imported goods along with a
7% customs processing fee and forms a major source of
A valid driver’s license from home is suitable when renting
vehicles. A government tax of 12% is levied on all
rental contracts. (Insurance is extra.) Driving is on the
left-hand side of the road, with traffic flow controlled by
round-abouts at major junctions. Please don’t drink and
drive! Taxis are abundant throughout the Islands and
many resorts offer shuttle service between popular visitor
areas. Scooter, motorcycle, and bicycle rentals are
FLOW Ltd. provides land lines and superfast broadband
Internet service. Mobile service is on a LTE 4G network,
including pre and post-paid cellular phones. Most resorts
and some stores and restaurants offer wireless Internet
connection. Digicel operates mobile networks, with
a full suite of LTE 4G service. FLOW is the local carrier
for CDMA roaming on US networks such as Verizon and
Sprint. North American visitors with GSM cellular handsets
and wireless accounts with AT&T or Cingular can
arrange international roaming.
FortisTCI supplies electricity at a frequency of 60HZ,
and either single phase or three phase at one of three
standard voltages for residential or commercial service.
FortisTCI continues to invest in a robust and resilient grid
to ensure the highest level of reliability to customers. The
company is integrating renewable energy into its grid and
provides options for customers to participate in two solar
US $60. It is typically included in the price of your airline
Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on
Providenciales and Grand Turk, and DHL. UPS service is
limited to incoming delivery.
The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales is
located downtown on Airport Road. In Grand Turk, the
Post Office and Philatelic Bureau is on Church Folly. The
Islands are known for their varied and colorful stamp
Multi-channel satellite television is received from the U.S.
and Canada and transmitted via cable or over the air.
Local station WIV-TV broadcasts on Channel 4 and Island
EyeTV on Channel 5. People’s Television offers 75 digitally
transmitted television stations, along with local news
and talk shows on Channel 8. There are also a number of
local radio stations, magazines, and newspapers.
There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are
large, modern hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales.
Both hospitals offer a full range of services including:
24/7 emergency room, operating theaters, diagnostic
imaging, maternity suites, dialysis suites, blood bank,
physiotherapy, and dentistry.
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In addition, several general practitioners operate in
the country, and there is a recompression chamber, along
with a number of private pharmacies.
A resident’s permit is required to live in the Islands. A
work permit and business license are also required to
work and/or establish a business. These are generally
granted to those offering skills, experience, and qualifications
not widely available on the Islands. Priority is given
to enterprises that will provide employment and training
for T&C Islanders.
TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed
Governor, HE Dr. John Freeman. He presides over an executive
council formed by the elected local government.
Lady Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson is the country’s first
woman premier, leading a majority People’s Democratic
Movement (PDM) House of Assembly.
The legal system is based upon English Common
Law and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief
Magistrate, and Deputy Magistrates. Judges of the Court
of Appeal visit the Islands twice a year and there is a final
Right of Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.
There are currently no direct taxes on either income
or capital for individuals or companies. There are no
exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs
duties and fees, stamp duty, taxes on accommodations,
restaurants, vehicle rentals, other services and gasoline,
as well as business license fees and departure taxes.
Historically, TCI’s economy relied on the export of salt.
Currently, tourism, the offshore finance industry, and
fishing generate the most private sector income. The
Islands’ main exports are lobster and conch. Practically
all consumer goods and foodstuffs are imported.
The Turks & Caicos Islands are recognised as an
important offshore financial centre, offering services
such as company formation, offshore insurance, banking,
trusts, limited partnerships, and limited life companies.
The Financial Services Commission regulates the industry
and spearheads the development of offshore legislation.
Citizens of the Turks & Caicos Islands are termed
Turk’s Head Brewery
Brewery Tours Monday-Friday
11AM, 1PM, 3PM
Enjoy a complimentary selection of local craft beer
after your tour!
Call 649.941.3637 x 1005 to book
52 Universal Dr.
TOUR TASTE SHOP
Island Auto_Layout 1 12/12/17 12:49 PM Page 1
ISLAND AUTO RENTALS
For Quality & Reliable Service
& Competitive Prices
The Cruise Center, Grand Turk
Tel: (649) 946-2042
Cell: (649) 232-0933 or (649) 231-4214
Cell: (649) 441-6737
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 75
“Belongers” and are primarily descendants of African
slaves who were brought to the Islands to work in the
salt ponds and cotton plantations. The country’s large
expatriate population includes Canadians, Americans,
Brits and Europeans, along with Haitians, Jamaicans,
Dominicans, Bahamians, Indians, and Filipinos.
Churches are the center of community life and there
are many faiths represented in the Islands including:
Adventist, Anglican, Assembly of God, Baha’i, Baptist,
Catholic, Church of God, Episcopal, Jehovah’s Witnesses,
Methodist and Pentecostal. Visitors are always welcome.
Incoming pets must have an import permit, veterinary
health certificate, vaccination certificate, and lab test
results to be submitted at the port of entry to obtain
clearance from the TCI Department of Agriculture, Animal
The National Bird is the Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).
The National Plant is Island heather (Limonium
bahamense) found nowhere else in the world. The
National Tree is the Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var.
bahamensis). The National Costume consists of white cotton
dresses tied at the waist for women and simple shirts
and loose pants for men, with straw hats. Colors representing
the various islands are displayed on the sleeves
and bases. The National Song is “This Land of Ours” by
the late Rev. E.C. Howell, PhD. Peas and Hominy (Grits)
with Dry Conch is revered as symbolic island fare.
TCI Waste Disposal Services currently offers recycling
services through weekly collection of recyclable alumi-
num, glass, and plastic. Single-use plastic bags have been
banned as of May 1, 2019.
Sporting activities are centered around the water. Visitors
can choose from deep-sea, reef, or bonefishing, sailing,
glass-bottom boat and semi-sub excursions, windsurfing,
waterskiing, parasailing, sea kayaking, snorkelling, scuba
diving, kiteboarding, stand up paddleboarding, and
beachcombing. Pristine reefs, abundant marine life, and
excellent visibility make TCI a world-class diving destination.
Tennis and golf—there is an 18 hole championship
course on Providenciales—are also popular.
The Islands are an ecotourist’s paradise. Visitors can
enjoy unspoilt wilderness and native flora and fauna in 33
national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries, and areas of
historical interest. The National Trust provides trail guides
to several hiking trails, as well as guided tours of major
historical sites. There is an excellent national museum on
Grand Turk, with an auxillary branch on Providenciales. A
scheduled ferry and a selection of tour operators make it
easy to take day trips to the outer islands.
Other land-based activities include bicycling, horseback
riding and football (soccer). Personal trainers are
available to motivate you, working out of several fitness
centres. You will also find a variety of spa and body treatment
Nightlife includes local bands playing island music
at bars and restaurants and some nightclubs. There is
a casino on Providenciales, along with many electronic
gaming parlours. Stargazing is extraordinary!
Shoppers will find Caribbean paintings, T-shirts,
sports and beachwear, and locally made handicrafts,
including straw work and conch crafts. Duty free outlets
sell liquor, jewellery, watches, perfume, leather goods,
crystal, china, cameras, electronics, brand-name clothing
and accessories, along with Cuban cigars. a
where to stay
range of daily rates
US$ (subject to change)
number of units
major credit cards
phone in unit
television in unit
kitchen in unit
on the beach
The Arches of Grand Turk – Tel 649 946 2941 190–210 4 • • • • • • •
Bohio Dive Resort – Tel 649 231 3572/800 494 4301 • Web www.bohioresort.com 170–230 16 • • • • • • • •
Crabtree Apartments – Tel 978 270 1698 • Web www.GrandTurkVacationRental.com 210–250 3 • • • • • •
Manta House – Tel 649 946 1111 • Web www.grandturk-mantahouse.com 110–130 5 • • • • • • •
Osprey Beach Hotel – Tel 649 946 2666 • Web www.ospreybeachhotel.com 90–225 37 • • • • • • • • • •
Pelican House – Tel 649 246 6797 • Web www.pelicanhousegrandturk.com 110-130 3 • • • • •
Salt Raker Inn – Tel 649 946 2260 • Web www.saltrakerinn.com 55–140 13 • • • • • • •
Solomon Porches Guesthouse – Tel 649 946 2776/241 2937 • Fax 649 946 1984 75–100 3 • •
Dragon Cay Resort at Mudjin Harbour – Tel 649 344 4997 • Web www.dragoncayresort.com 325 8 • • • • • • • • •
Bottle Creek Lodge – Tel 649 946 7080 • Web www.bottlecreeklodge.com 155–240 3 • •
Caicos Beach Condominiums – Tel 649 241 4778/786 338 9264 • Web www.caicosbeachcondos.com 159–299 8 • • • • • • • •
Cedar Palms Suites – Tel 649 946 7113/649 244 4186 • Web www.oceanbeach.tc 250–300 3 • • • • • • • • •
Flamingo’s Nest – Tel 649 946 7113/649 244 4186 • Web www.oceanbeach.tc 175–340 2 • • • • • • • •
Hollywood Beach Suites - Tel 800 551 2256/649 231 1020 • Web www.hollywoodbeachsuites.com 200–235 4 • • • • • •
JoAnne’s Bed & Breakfast - Tel 649 946 7301 • Web www.turksandcaicos.tc/joannesbnb 80–120 4 • • • •
Palmetto Villa – Tel 649 946 7113/649 244 4186 • Web www.oceanbeach.tc 225–250 1 • • • • • • • •
Pelican Beach Hotel - Tel 649 946 7112 • Web www.pelicanbeach.tc 125–165 14 • • • • • • • •
The Meridian Club - Tel 649 946 7758/888 286 7993 • Web www.meridianclub.com 800–1300 13 • • • • • • •
COMO Parrot Cay Resort - Tel 649 946 7788/855 PARROTCAY • www.comohotels.com/parrotcay 550–2850 65 • • • • • • • • • •
Airport Inn – Tel 649 941 3514 • Web www.airportinntci.com. 140 18 • • • • • • •
Alexandra Resort – Tel 800 284 0699/649 946 5807 • Web www.alexandraresort.com 280–420 99 • • • • • • • • •
The Atrium Resort – Tel 888 592 7885/649 333 0101 • Web www.theatriumresorttci.com 159–410 30 • • • • • • • •
Amanyara – Tel 866 941 8133/649 941 8133 • Web www.aman.com 1000–2100 73 • • • • • • • •
Aquamarine Beach Houses – Tel 649 231 4535/905 556 0278 • www.aquamarinebeachhouses.com 200–850 24 • • • • • • • •
Beaches Resort Villages & Spa – Tel 888-BEACHES/649 946 8000 • Web www.beaches.com 325–390AI 758 • • • • • • • • •
Beach House Turks & Caicos – Tel 649 946 5800/855 946 5800 • Web www.beachchousetci.com 532–638 21 • • • • • • • • • •
BE Beach Enclave – Tel 649 946 5619 • Web www.beachenclave.com see web 24 • • • • • • • •
Blue Haven Resort & Marina – Tel 855 832 7667/649 946 9900 • Web www.bluehaventci.com 250–650 51 • • • • • • • • • •
Caribbean Paradise Inn – Tel 649 946 5020 • Web www.caribbeanparadiseinn.com 162–225 17 • • • • • • • •
Club Med Turkoise – Tel 800 258 2633/649 946 5500 • Web www.clubmed.com 120–225 290 • • • • • • • • •
Coral Gardens on Grace Bay – Tel 649 941 5497/800 787 9115 • Web www.coralgardensongracebay.com 199-449 32 • • • • • • • • • •
Grace Bay Club - Tel 800 946 5757/649 946 5050 • Web www.gracebayclub.com 650–1750 75 • • • • • • • • • •
Grace Bay Suites – Tel 649 941 7447 • Web www.GraceBaySuites.com 99–195 24 • • • • • • • •
Harbour Club Villas – Tel 649 941 5748/305 434 8568 • Web www.harbourclubvillas.com 210–240 6 • • • • •
The Inn at Grace Bay – Tel 649 432 8633 • Web www.innatgracebay.com 179–379 48 • • • • • • •
Kokomo Botanical Gardens - Tel 649 941 3121• Web www.aliveandwellresorts.com 169–299 16 • • • • •
Le Vele - Tel 649 941 8800/888 272 4406 • Web www.leveleresort.com 303–630 22 • • • • • • • •
La Vista Azul – Tel 649 946 8522/866 519 9618 • Web www.lvaresort.com 215–375 78 • • • • • • •
The Lodgings – Tel 649 941 8107/242 6722 • Web www.hotelturksandcaicos.com 175–255 15 • • • • • •
Neptune Villas – Tel 649 331 4328 • Web www.neptunevillastci.com 150–400 10 • • • • • • • • •
Northwest Point Resort • Tel 649 941 5133 • Web www.northwestpointresort.com 196–550 49 • • • • • • • • • •
Ocean Club Resorts - Tel 800 457 8787/649 946 5880 • Web www.oceanclubresorts.com 180–690 191 • • • • • • • • • •
The Palms Turks & Caicos – Tel 649 946 8666/866 877 7256 • Web thepalmstc.com 595–1700 72 • • • • • • • • • •
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 77
where to stay
Pelican Nest Villa – Tel 649 342 5731 • Web www.pelicannest.tc 429–857 2 • • • • • •
Point Grace – Tel 649 946 5096/888 209 5582 • Web www.pointgrace.com 424–1515 27 • • • • • • • • • •
Ports of Call Resort – Tel 888 678 3483/649 946 8888 • Web www.portsofcallresort.com 135–210 99 • • • • • • •
Queen Angel Resort – Tel 649 941 8771 • Web www.queenangelresort.com 150–575 56 • • • • • • • • •
Reef Residences at Grace Bay – Tel 800 532 8536 • Web www.reefresidence.com 275-385 24 • • • • • • •
The Regent Grand – Tel 877 288 3206/649 941 7770 • Web www.theregentgrand.com 495–1100 50 • • • • • • • • •
Royal West Indies Resort – Tel 800 332 4203/649 946 5004 • Web www.royalwestindies.com 180–695 92 • • • • • • • • • •
The Sands at Grace Bay – Tel 877 777 2637/649 946 5199 • Web www.thesandsresort.com 175–675 116 • • • • • • • • • •
Seven Stars Resort – Tel 866 570 7777/649 333 7777 – Web www.sevenstarsgracebay.com 365–2400 165 • • • • • • • • • •
The Shore Club – Tel 649 339 8000 – Web www.theshoreclubtc.com 465–4650 148 • • • • • • • • • •
Sibonné Beach Hotel – Tel 888 570 2861/649 946 5547 • Web www.sibonne.com 110–375 29 • • • • • • • •
The Somerset on Grace Bay – Tel 649 339 5900/888 386 8770 • Web www.thesomerset.com 350–1300 53 • • • • • • • • • •
The Tuscany – Tel 866 359 6466/649 941 4667 • Web www.thetuscanyresort.com 975–1300 30 • • • • • • • •
The Venetian – Tel 877 277 4793/649 941 3512 • Web www.thevenetiangracebay.com 695–1175 27 • • • • • • • •
Villa del Mar – Tel 877 345 4890/649 941 5160 • Web www.yourvilladelmar.com 190–440 42 • • • • • • •
Villa Mani – Tel 649 431 4444 • Web www.villamanitci.com 6500–9500 8 • • • • • • •
Villa Renaissance – Tel 649 941 5160/877 345 4890 • www.villarenaissanceturksandcaicos.com 295–650 36 • • • • • • • • •
The Villas at Blue Mountain – Tel 649 941 4255/866 883 5931 • www.villasatbluemountain.com 1200–2500 3 • • • • • • • •
West Bay Club – Tel 855 749 5750/649 946 8550 • Web www.thewestbayclub.com 235–1163 46 • • • • • • • • • •
Windsong Resort – Tel 649 333 7700/800 WINDSONG • Web www.windsongresort.com 275–925 50 • • • • • • • • •
Wymara Resort & Villas – Tel 888 844 5986 • Web www.wymararesortandvillas.com 315–720 91 • • • • • • • • • •
range of daily rates
US$ (subject to change)
number of units
major credit cards
phone in unit
television in unit
kitchen in unit
on the beach
Castaway – Salt Cay – Tel 772 713 9502 • Web www.castawayonsaltcay.com 175–265 4 • • • • •
Genesis Beach House – Tel 561 502 0901 • Web www.Genesisbeachhouse.com 1000–1200W 4 • • • • •
Pirate’s Hideaway B & B – Tel 800 289 5056/649 946 6909 • Web www.saltcay.tc 165–175 4 • • • • • • •
Salt Cay Beach House – Tel 772 713 9502 • Web www.saltcaybeachhouse.blogspot.com 799W 1 • • • • • •
Trade Winds Guest Suites – Tel 649 232 1009 • Web www.tradewinds.tc 925–1325W 5 • • • • •
Twilight Zone Cottage – Tel 772 713 9502 • Web www.twilightzonecottage.blogspot.com 499W 1 • • • •
The Villas of Salt Cay – Tel 772 713 9502 • Web www.villasofsaltcay.com 150–475 5 • • • • • • • •
East Bay Resort – Tel 844 260 8328/649 232 6444 • Web eastbayresort.com 198–1775 86 • • • • • • • • • •
Sailrock South Caicos – Tel 855 335 72513/649 941 2121 • Web sailrockliving.com 600–800 6 • • • • • • • • •
South Caicos Ocean & Beach Resort – Tel 877 774 5486/649 946 3219
Web southcaicos.oceanandbeachresort.com 120–275 24 • • • • •
Hotel & Tourism Association Member
Green Globe Certified
Rates (listed for doubles) do not include Government Accommodation Tax and Service Charge
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We’re here to
make your holiday
the island way...
DEPENDABLE VEHICLE HIRE
Provo & North-Middle Caicos
Amos: 441-2667 (after hours)
Yan: 247-6755 (after hours)
Bob: 231-0262 (after hours)
Grace Bay Road across from Regent Street
Fun Friendly People
Appreciating Your Business!
Whether it’s for the largest variety of
vehicles, or the better prices and
Open 8am to 5pm 7 days.
After hours call
Barry 332.0012 Patrice 332.8602 Sophia 331.9895
Forbes Classified changes due_Layout 1 8/9/18 Deluxe 11:51 A Day Spa_Layout 1 5/28/19 12:43 PM Page
FORBES REALTY TCI
Caicu Naniki_Caicu Naniki classified 8/9/18 12:05 PM Page 1
R e j o u v e n a n c e S p a
“Go Beyond Provo”
Find your dream property on North Caicos,
Middle Caicos, Salt Cay or Pine Cay.
Call or email us today!
Offering an array of luxurious
services both in Spa or Mobile.
Let us bring the ultimate spa experience to you
in the comfort of your villa or hotel.
Tel: +1 (649) 343 6029
For a Beautiful skin
on your special day
r e p a i r - r e f r e s h - r e n e w
6 4 9 - 4 3 2 - 7 5 4 6
Touch of Bliss_Layout 1 8/9/18 11:59 AM Page 1
r e j o u v e n a n c e s p a . c o m
Sara Kaufman cell: 1-649-231-4884
Ernest Forbes cell: 1-649-247-7599
Community Fellowship Centre
EcoSeaSwimWinter 2018_Caicu Naniki classified 11/14/18 11:36 PM Page 1
A Life-Changing Experience
Sunday Divine Worship 9 AM
Tel: 649.941.3484 • Web: cfctci.com
Phone: 649-242-3439 or 649-346-7344
TC Email: Safari_Layout firstname.lastname@example.org
1 8/9/18 3:33 PM Page 1
Newly located at Caribbean Place
PRIVATE TOURS TO
NORTH & MIDDLE CAICOS &
SWIM LESSONS & SWIM SAFARIS.
RENTALS & SALES.
5 STAR TRIP ADVISOR RATING
Stop by Swim & Surf Store at
Caicos Cafe Plaza, Grace Bay.
Project1_Layout 1 11/27/18 10:34 PM Page 1
in Grace Bay
“Race for the Conch”
1/2 Mile, 1 Mile,
2.4 Mile Events
Fiona_Layout w w w . 1 e c6/8/18 o s e a12:09 s w iPM m . cPage o m 1
Vacation Villa Rentals
Joanne Phillips, Turks & Caicos Safari
Brigitte ad Classified_Brigitte 8/25/17 11:50 AM Page 1
1 (649) 232 7083
D&Bswift_Layout Home Owner Services 1 5/8/18 & Project 7:24 Management AM Page 1
FOR ALL YOUR
Tangled Hair Salon
Visit Hidden Treasures Boutique
T&C Veterinary_Layout Open 1 8/9/18 6 days 2:02 per week PM Page 1
Follow us on for cutting, styling and so much more
Call 431 4247 (431 HAIR)
PORTS OF CALL PLAZA
Salt Mills Plaza
Turks & Caicos Veterinary
Monday thru Saturday
9:00am - 12 noon
Vet on duty Mon, Wed, Thur, Sat.
Ocean 24 Breezy Breeze_Layout Ridge (649) 946 4353 1 4/8/19 10:34 AM Page 1
Caring for your pet as though it
were our own since 1981 Email: email@example.com
Our cleaning solutions are made
from biodegradable materials that
aren't harmful to the environment.
Find our products throughout the
Turks & Caicos Islands.
649-941-8438 and 649-241-4968
HOUSEHOLD AND COMMERCIAL CLEANING PRODUCTS
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 79
dining out – providenciales
Amanyara — Amanyara Resort. Tel: 941-8133. Light gourmet
cuisine with menu changing daily. Open 6 to 10 PM.
Angela’s Top O’ The Cove Deli — Suzie Turn, by NAPA.
Tel: 946-4694. New York-style delicatessen. Eat-in, carry-out,
catering. Open daily 7 AM to 5 PM; Sunday 7 AM to 2 PM.
Asú on the Beach — Alexandra Resort. Tel: 941-8888. Casual
Caribbean and popular international fare. Open daily for 7:30
AM to 10:30 PM. Service indoors, poolside, and at beach.
Baci Ristorante — Harbour Towne, Turtle Cove. Tel: 941-3044.
Waterfront Italian dining. Brick oven pizza. Popular bar. Open
for lunch Monday to Friday 12 to 2 PM and dinner nightly from
6 to 10 PM. Closed Sunday.
Bay Bistro — Sibonné Beach Hotel. Tel: 946-5396. Oceanfront
dining featuring creative international cuisine. Open daily
7 AM to 10 PM. Weekend brunch. Catering and special events.
Beaches Resort & Spa — The Bight. Tel: 946-8000.
All-inclusive resort. A variety of restaurants and bars on premises.
Non-guests can purchase a pass.
Bella Luna Ristorante — Glass House, Grace Bay Road. Tel:
946-5214. Fine Italian dining. Indoor or terrace seating above
tropical garden. Open daily from 5:30 PM. Closed Sunday. Lunch
and pizza in the garden. Private catering available.
Big Al’s Island Grill — Salt Mills Plaza. Tel: 941-3797. Wide
selection of burgers, steaks, salads, and wraps in a diner-like
setting. Open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM.
Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl — Five Cays. Tel: 941-3863. Fresh
local conch and seafood by the beach. Rum, buckets of beer,
live local bands. Open daily from 11 AM to late.
Cabana Beach Bar & Grill — Ocean Club. Tel: 946-5880.
Casual island fare, burgers, salads, snacks. Open daily from
8 AM to 10 PM. Tropical cocktails with a view of the sea.
Caicos Bakery — Caicos Café Plaza. Authentic French boulangerie.
Fresh-baked breads, rolls, croissants, muffins, quiche,
pastries, cakes. Open 7 AM to 4:30 PM daily except Sunday.
Caicos Café — Caicos Café Plaza. Tel: 946-5278.
Mediterranean specialties, grilled local seafood. Fine wines, dining
on the deck. Open 6 PM to 10 PM Monday to Saturday.
Chicken Chicken — Times Square, downtown Provo. Fast food,
fried chicken, native fare.
Chinson’s Grill Shack — Leeward Highway. Tel: 941-3533.
The Islands’ best jerk and barbecue, Jamaican pastries. Open
daily 8 AM to 10 PM; Friday to Midnight.
Club Med — Grace Bay Road. Tel: 946-5500. All-inclusive
resort. Buffet-style dining; live show and disco in the evenings.
Non-guests can purchase a daily pass.
Coco Bistro — Grace Bay Road. Tel: 946-5369. Continental
Caribbean cuisine by Chef Stuart Gray under a canopy of palms.
Serving dinner from 5:30 PM daily. Look for the Cocovan airstream
lounge with garden seating or take-away.
Coconut Grove Restaurant & Lounge — Olympic Plaza,
Downtown. Tel: 247-5610. Casual native fare. Cracked conch,
conch fritters, fried fish. Open daily 11 AM to 10 PM.
Coyaba Restaurant — Caribbean Paradise Inn. Tel: 946-5186.
Contemporary Caribbean gourmet cuisine in a private tropical
garden setting. Extensive wine list. Dinner nightly from 6 to 10
PM. Closed Tuesday. Reservations recommended.
Crackpot Kitchen — Ports of Call. Tel: 2313336. Experience
the best of authentic Turks & Caicos and Caribbean cuisines
with local celebrity Chef Nik. Open daily 5 to 10 PM except
Thursday; Happy Hour 5 to 7 PM.
Da Conch Shack & RumBar — Blue Hills. Tel: 946-8877.
Island-fresh seafood from the ocean to your plate. Covered
beachfront dining for lunch and dinner daily from 11 AM.
Danny Buoy’s — Grace Bay Road. Tel: 946-5921. Traditional
American pub fare; imported draught beers. Open for lunch and
dinner daily from 11 AM. Happy Hour specials. Large screen TVs
for sporting events. Karaoke.
The Deck — Seven Stars Resort. Tel: 941-7777. All day dining
and cocktails by the water’s edge. Open daily 11 AM to 11 PM.
Live music Friday nights.
Drift — West Bay Club. Tel: 946-8550. Open-air beachfront dining.
Creatively used local ingredients. Full bar. Open daily.
Dune — Windsong Resort. Tel: 333-7700. Private beachfront
dining with limited availability. Fresh fare prepared to perfection.
El Catador Tapas & Bar — Regent Village. Tel: 244-1134.
Authentic Spanish tapas with a wide mix of cold and hot plates
meant for sharing. Fun and lively atmosphere. Open daily from
Element — LeVele Plaza. Tel: 348-6424. Contemporary, creative
cuisine in an elegant setting. Open for dinner Friday to
Wednesday 6:30 to 10:30 PM.
Fairways Bar & Grill — Provo Golf Club. Tel: 946-5833. Dine
overlooking the “greens.” Open for breakfast and lunch from 7
AM to 4 PM daily; Friday, Saturday and Sunday open until 8 PM.
Great Sunday brunch 9 AM to 3 PM.
Fire & Ice — Blue Haven Resort & Marina. Tel: 946-9900.
Drinks at the Ice Bar, dessert by the fire pits. South Americanmeets-Caribbean
flavors and spices. Open daily 5:30 to 9:30
PM. Closed Wednesday.
Fresh Bakery & Bistro — Atrium Resort. Tel: 345-4745.
Healthy European salads, soups, sandwiches, bakery, pies and
cakes. Gelato. Open daily 7 AM to 6 PM, closed Sunday.
Fresh Catch — Salt Mills Plaza. Tel: 243-3167. Authentic native
cuisine, from seafood to souse. All-you-can-eat seafood buffet
on Wednesday. Open daily 8 AM to 10 PM. Closed Sunday.
Garam Masala — Regent Village. Tel: 941-3292. Authentic
Indian cuisine, tandoori charcoal-oven specialties. Open daily
11:30 AM to 3 PM, 5:30 to 10 PM. Dine-in, take-out or delivery.
Giggles Ice Cream & Candy Parlour — Ports of Call &
Williams Storage. Tel: 941-7370. Cones, sundaes, shakes,
smoothies, “Gigglers,” ice cream pies and cakes. Pick ‘n’ mix
candies. Open daily 11 AM to 10 PM.
Gilley’s Sky Lounge & Bar — At the airport. Tel: 946-4472.
Burgers, sandwiches, local food. Open daily 6 AM to 9 PM.
Grace’s Cottage — Point Grace Resort. Tel: 946-5096. Refined
new menu in the style of a tastefully sophisticated French bistro.
Serving dinner from 6 to 10 PM nightly.
Grill Rouge — Grace Bay Club. Tel: 946-5050. Al fresco bistro.
Diverse menu. Fun cocktails. Open daily for lunch Noon to 3 PM,
dinner to 9 PM.
Hemingways on the Beach — The Sands at Grace Bay. Tel:
941-8408. Casual beachfront bar and restaurant. Fresh fish,
pasta, sandwiches, salads and tropical drinks by the pool.
Oceanfront deck for great sunsets! Open 8 AM to 10 PM daily.
Hole in the Wall Restaurant & Bar — Williams Plaza, Old
Airport Road. Tel: 941-4136. Authentic Jamaican/Island cuisine
where the locals go. Full bar. A/C dining or outdoors on the
deck. Open daily 7 AM to 9 PM. Pick-up/delivery available.
Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar — Grace Bay Club. Tel: 946-
5050. Elegant beachfront dining for lunch and dinner. Gourmet
Euro/Caribbean cuisine; fine wines. Full bar and lounge.
Island Raw — Le Petite Plaza. Tel: 346-5371. Vegan lifestyle
kitchen, offering fresh, organic, raw, vegan, gourmet. Open
Friday, Noon to 2 PM.
Island Conch Bar & Grill — Bight Cultural Market. Tel: 946-
8389. Caribbean and local cuisine. Open daily 11 AM to 9 PM.
Island Scoop — Grace Bay Plaza. Tel: 242-8511/243-5051.
21 flavors of ice cream made locally. Cones, smoothies, blizzards
and shakes. Open daily, 11 AM to 10 PM.
The Java Bar — Graceway Gourmet. Tel: 941-5000. Gourmet
café serving fresh baked desserts, sandwiches and coffee
delights. Open 7 AM to 8 PM daily.
Jack’s Fountain — Across from Casablanca Casino. Tel: 946-
5225. Seafood, steak, unique specialty items in a lively, relaxed
“beach bar” atmosphere. Open 7 AM to 10 PM daily.
Kalooki’s Grace Bay — Le Vele Plaza. Tel: 941-8388. The perfect
mix of sweet and spicy Caribbean flavors. New location in
Grace Bay. Open daily 11 AM to 10 PM. Closed Thursday.
Kitchen 218 — Beach House, Lower Bight Road. Tel: 946-5800.
Caribbean cuisine with hints of French and Asian fusion and the
chef’s passion for fresh ingredients. Open 8 AM to 10 PM daily.
The Landing Bar & Kitchen — Grace Bay Road across from
Regent Village. Tel: 341-5856. Unique nautical setting for dinner
under the stars. Cocktails, fire pit. Open daily except Tuesday
5:30 to 10 PM.
Las Brisas — Neptune Villas, Chalk Sound. Tel: 946-5306.
Mediterranean/Caribbean cuisine with tapas, wine and full bar.
Terrace and gazebo dining overlooking Chalk Sound. Open daily
8 AM to 10 PM. Take-out available; private parties.
Le Bouchon du Village — Regent Village. Tel: 946-5234. A
taste of Paris. Sidewalk café with sandwiches, salads, tartines,
tapas, dinner specials, wine, cheese, dessert, coffees. Open
daily 11 AM. Closed Sunday.
Le Comptoir Francais — Regent Village. Tel: 946-5234.
French deli, bakery, wine shop. Open daily.
Lemon 2 Go Coffee — Ventura House. Tel: 941-4069.
Gourmet coffeehouse. Sandwiches, muffins, cookies, croissants,
yogurt, salads. Open Monday to Saturday 7:30 AM to 7 PM,
Sunday 9 AM to 1 PM.
The Lounge — Grace Bay Club. Tel: 946-5050. Decidedly hip
lounge. Caribbean-infused tapas, martinis, tropical cocktails,
world music and the finest sunset location in Providenciales.
Lupo — Regent Village. Tel: 431-5876. Authentic Italian “comfort
food.” Regional wine list. Dine in or take out ready-made
gourmet meals. Open daily Noon to 3 PM; 5:45 to 9:45 PM.
Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar — Miramar Resort. Tel:
941-5108. International cuisine with island flavors, north shore
views. Open for dinner from 6 to 9:30 PM except Monday.
Mango Reef — Turtle Cove. Tel: 946-8200. Fresh local flavors
and seafood, homemade desserts. Open daily 11 AM to 10 PM.
Set price dinner on weekdays. Waterside deck, indoor or patio
dining. Tie-up to dock at Turtle Cove Marina.
Market Café — Blue Haven Resort. Tel: 946-9900. Gourmet
coffees, teas, frozen drinks; fresh breads and pastries; grab ‘n’
go salads, sandwiches, smoothies. Open daily 7 AM to 8 PM.
Mother’s Pizza — Downtown Times Square. Tel: 941-4142.
Best pizza in the Turks & Caicos, available by the slice or the
island’s biggest “large.” Open daily 11 AM to 9 PM; to 10 PM on
Friday and Saturday; Noon to 8 PM on Sunday.
Mr. Groupers — Lower Bight and Sunset Ridge Hotel (near airport).
Tel: 242-6780. Serving fresh local seafood straight from
the sea. Open daily 10 AM to 10:30 PM, Sunday 3 to 11 PM.
Opus Wine • Bar • Grill — Ocean Club Plaza. Tel: 946-5885.
International menu with Caribbean flair. Fresh seafood. Serving
dinner nightly 6 to 10 PM. Indoor/outdoor dining. Conference
facility, events, catering.
Outback Steakhouse TCI — Regent Village. Unbeatable
steak cuts complemented by chicken, ribs, seafood, and pasta.
Generous portions, moderately priced, casual atmosphere. Open
Monday to Thursday 3 to 11 PM; Friday to Midnight; Saturday 1
PM to Midnight; Sunday 1 to 11 PM.
Parallel23 — The Palms Turks & Caicos. Tel: 946-8666. Pantropical
cuisine in a setting of casual elegance. Boutique wine
list. Al fresco or private dining room available. Open daily 6 to
The Patty Place — Behind Shining Stars; Le Petit Place, Blue
Hills. Tel: 246-9000. Authentic Jamaican patties and loaves. 18
flavors of Devon House ice cream. Open daily 9:30 AM to 10 PM.
Pavilion — The Somerset. Tel: 339-5900. Chef Brad offers a
global palate, interpreted locally. Seafood raw bar. Open daily
for breakfast, lunch, dinner; Sunday Prime Rib special.
Pelican Bay Restaurant & Bar — Royal West Indies Resort.
Tel: 941-2365/431-9101. Poolside restaurant and bar with
Caribbean, French and Asian fare. Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily
from 7:30 AM to 10 PM. Special events each week.
Pepper Town Café — Digicel Cinema, #4. Tel: 246-9237.
Native and Caribbean Dishes. Open daily except Sunday 11:30
AM to 7 PM. Island breakfast on Saturday at 7 AM.
Pizza Pizza — Grace Bay Plaza/Cinema Plaza. Tel: 941-
8010/941-3577. New York style specialty pizzas. Open daily
11:30 AM to 9:30 PM, weekends until 10 PM. Free delivery.
Provence — Le Vele Plaza. Tel: 946-4124. Traditional French
artisan-style cuisine. Fresh pasta, gelato, cheeses, charcuterie,
pastries, desserts. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Retreat Kitchen Vegetarian Café & Juice Bar — Ports of
Call. Tel: 432-2485. Fresh, organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free
fare. Fresh juices, daily lunch specials. Open for lunch
Monday to Saturday, 9 AM to 3 PM. Delivery available.
Rickie’s Flamingo Café — Between Ocean Club and Club Med.
Tel: 244-3231. Local fare and atmosphere right on the beach.
Best grouper sandwich and rum punch! Don’t miss Curry Fridays
and Beach BBQ Saturdays.
Salt Bar & Grill — Blue Haven Resort & Marina. Tel: 946-9900.
Outdoor seating overlooking the marina. Sandwiches, burgers,
salads, classic bar favorites. Open daily 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM.
Seven — Seven Stars Resort. Tel: 339-7777. Elevated contemporary
cuisine fused with TCI tradition. Open Monday to Saturday,
5:30 to 9:30 PM.
72ºWest — The Palms Turks & Caicos. Tel: 946-8666.
Beachside dining with a family-friendly, Caribbean-inspired
menu. Serving lunch daily; dinner seasonally.
Sharkbite Bar & Grill — Admiral’s Club at Turtle Cove. Tel:
941-5090. Varied menu; casual dining. Sports bar/slots. Open
daily from 11 AM to 2 AM.
Shay Café — Le Vele Plaza. Tel: 331-6349. Offering organic
Times of the Islands Summer 2019 81
coffees, teas, sandwiches, salads, soup, pastries, gelato, sorbetto,
smoothies, beer and wine. Open daily 7 AM to 7 PM.
Simone’s Bar & Grill — La Vista Azul. Tel: 331-3031. Serving
fresh seafood and local cuisine. Open daily 11 AM to 11 PM;
weekends 7 AM to 11 PM. Popular bar!
Skull Rock Cantina — Ports of Call. Tel: 941-4173. The place
for Tex-Mex; daily drink specials. Open daily, 8 AM to Midnight.
Solana! Restaurant — Ocean Club West. Tel: 946-5254.
Oceanfront dining from sushi to burgers. Teppanyaki and Sushi
Bar, engage with the chefs. Open daily 7:30 AM to 10 PM.
Somewhere Café & Lounge — Coral Gardens Resort. Tel:
941-8260. Casual dining with Tex-Mex flair right on the beach.
Cocktails, beers, specialty drinks. Open early to late daily.
Stelle — Gansevoort Turks + Caicos. Tel: 232-4444. Modern
Mediterranean cuisine featuring fresh fish and seafood. Open 6
to 10 PM daily, until 2 AM on Friday with DJ.
Sui-Ren — The Shore Club. Tel: 339-8000. Inspired flavors of
Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine with fresh seafood and organic
produce in a unique setting. Open daily.
Thai Orchid — The Regent Village. Tel: 946-4491. Authentic
Thai cuisine; over 60 choices! Dine in or carry out. Open for
lunch and dinner daily.
Three Brothers Restaurant — Town Center Mall, Downtown.
Tel: 232-4736. Seafood and native cuisine. Tuesday night buffet
dinner. Catering services. Open daily, 7 AM to 10 PM.
Tiki Hut Island Eatery — Dockside at Turtle Cove Inn. Tel:
941-5341. Imaginative sandwiches, salads, seafood, Black
Angus beef, pasta, pizzas, fish. Open daily 11 AM to 10 PM.
Turkberry Frozen Yogurt — The Saltmills. Tel: 431-2233.
Frozen yogurt in a variety of flavors, with a large selection of
toppings. Custom donut bar. Open 11 AM to 11 PM daily.
Turks Kebab — At Craft Market on Sand Castle Drive. Tel: 431-
9964. Turkish and Mediterranean fare. Salads, falafel, gyros,
kebabs, hummus. Open for lunch and dinner.
Via Veneto — Ports of Call. Tel: 941-2372. Authentic Italian
dining in a stylish indoor/outdoor venue. Open from 5:30 PM to
late. Closed Thursday. Saturday is Pizza Night!
The Vix Asian Bistro & Grill — Regent Village. Tel: 941-4144.
Contemporary Asian menu with a wok station, dim sum, vegan
specialties and keto dishes. Open daily 7:30 AM to 3 PM; 5 to
9:45 PM. Delivery to select locations. Catering menus.
Yoshi’s Sushi & Grill — The Saltmills. Tel: 941-3374/431-
0012. Sushi bar menu plus Japanese cuisine. Open daily Noon
to 3 PM; 6 to 10 PM. Closed Sunday. Dine indoors or out. Carry
Zest! — Gansevoort Turks + Caicos. Tel: 232-4444. Lunch and
dinner beachfront. Taste of the Caribbean and Americas. Open
daily Noon to 5 PM; 6 to 9 PM. Fisherman’s night Wednesday. a
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