Times of the Islands Spring 2020

Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.

Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.


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Lucayan Petroglyphs


Slavery in Grand Caicos


Fighting Deadly Coral Disease

T U R K S & C A I C O S ’ U LT I M AT E





Executive Chef Lauren Callighen

Parallel23 at The Palms

Executive Chef Martin Davies

SUI-REN at The Shore Club

S U I - R E N

Award-winning Executive

Chef Martin Davies fuses

Japanese cuisine with

Peruvian flair into a

brilliant blend of the

PA R A L L E L 2 3

Award-winning Executive

freshest seafood and

organic produce.

Chef Lauren Callighen

works her magic with

Caribbean fusion

cuisine featuring the

freshest local ingredients


you're the


seasoned with an abundant

dash of creativity.


at The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach

Open nightly 6:00 –10:30pm

649.946.8666 | thepalmstc.com

Open nightly 6:00 –10:30pm

649.339.8000 | theshoreclubtc.com


2 0 1 9

Caribbean's VOTED Leading

All-Inclusive Family


22 YEARS in a Row at

the World Travel Awards

At Beaches ® Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, everyone

in the family can create their own perfect day. For some, it’s

the white-sand beaches and calm waters featuring land and

water sports including top equipment and expert instruction.

For others, it’s the awesome waterparks, multiple rounds of

golf* with complimentary green fees, fabulous restaurants

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and memories for Generation Everyone—and that’s why

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At our Pirates Island Waterparks, kids of all

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having the time of their lives with up to 11

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rivers, and water fun for the tiniest tots.


Up to 21 Restaurants &

Nighttime Entertainment


Since Beaches was created for everyone,

our Master Chefs create extraordinary

cuisine for every taste. From casual to

upscale, it’s all gourmet. We also include

Sesame Street ® stage shows, street

parades, beach parties, live bands, and

upscale cocktail lounges for the adults.

While teens can meet up at Club Liquid

or the Beach Shack.


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Beaches ® is a registered trademark. Unique Vacations, Inc. is an affiliate of Unique Travel Corp., the worldwide representative of Beaches Resorts.




6 From the Editor

15 Getting to Know

Gustarvus O’Neil Lightbourne

By Carlton Mills, Willette Swann & Tanya Parnell

22 Eye on the Sky

Nature’s Ephemeral Vortex

By Paul Wilkerson ~ Photos By Marta Morton

28 Creature Feature

Armadillos of the Sea

By Brian Heagney ~ Photo By Marta Morton

71 Around the Islands

Not Your Average Golf Course

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photos By Tom Rathgeb

73 About the Islands/TCI Map

77 Subscription Form

78 Where to Stay

80 Dining

82 Classified Ads


44 Hidden Legacy

By Ben Stubenberg

54 Inclusion Matters

By Norah Machia ~ Photos By Anthony Machia

Green Pages

30 The Battle Begins

By the Staff of the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund

34 The Elusive Octopus

By Dr. Caitlin E. O’Brien

38 Phoenix from the Ashes?

Story & Photos By B Naqqi Manco





On the Cover

Turks & Caicos Islander Dominique Rolle made a special

trip to the Caicos pineyards (under the guidance

of B Naqqi Manco) to shoot this thriving “parent tree”

that is producing cones and seeds that are the hope of

reforesting the area. See the inspiring story on page 38.

Dominique is one-half of the industry-changing media

firm Caya Hico Media (www.cayahicomedia.com).


64 Cave Art

By Dr. Michael P. Pateman

67 The Layers of History

Story & Photos By John Galleymore


In the Winter 2019/20 issue, the article “Ice Cream in

Parrotice” commented, “A previous restaurant that sold

ice cream had gone dormant . . .” Longtime North Caicos

entrepreneur Karen Preikschat quickly dispelled this

notion! She says, “We started making homemade ice cream

at Silver Palm Restaurant in 2012/2013 with a borrowed

ice cream maker. We tested and created our signature

all-natural flavours: Toasted Coconut, Butter Pecan, Rum

& Raisin, Vanilla and Chocolate, all best-sellers. We also

offer Strawberry, Red Raspberry and Blackberry sorbet. In

2014 we opened Silver Palm Bistro at Horse Stable Corner

in Whitby. My husband Poach has made some changes to

the bistro and is now offering local cuisine at the Two Fat

Brothers Restaurant. We are a seasonal business, never

dormant. Our clients are still enjoying our ice cream at

the restaurant where we serve scoops, cups and pints. We

have customers bringing coolers from Provo to fill with

our ice cream! See our Trip Advisor site for the restaurant

and bistro for comments about our ice cream.”


4 www.timespub.tc


Bernadette Hunt

+1 649 231 4029 | +1 649 941 3361


Bernadette has lived in the Turks and

Caicos Islands for over 21 years and

witnessed the development and transition

of the islands into a significant tourist

destination. Based on independent

figures her gross transaction numbers

are unrivalled. Bernadette has listings on

Providenciales, Pine Cay, Ambergris Cay,

North and Middle Caicos and is delighted

to work with sellers and buyers of

homes, condos, commercial real estate

and vacant undeveloped sites.

Turks and Caicos Property is the leading

independent real estate firm in the Turks

and Caicos Islands with offices located

at Ocean Club West Resort and Ocean

Club West Plaza on the Grace Bay Road.

Crystal Sands - Luxury Beachfront Villa - Sapodilla Bay

Crystal Sands Villa is a luxury beachfront villa just just steps away from the incredible white

sand and calm clear waters of Sapodilla Bay, one of the Turks and Caicos Islands most coveted

locations to reside. The 2 storey, 4,200 sq. ft. property is perfect for large families and

is currently operated as a successful rental income property with two separate, 2 bedroom

2 bathroom suites with breathtaking views of the tranquil beach and turquoise waters.

The property provides an owner with the option to rent the entire property, or live in the

upper or lower level while continuing to operate the vacant level as a vacation rental.


Bernadette’s reputation and success

has been earned over time through her

dedication, enthusiasm and passion for

real estate. Her personal experience

as having practiced law in the islands

for more than 10 years together with

owning and renovating a number of

properties means she is well-placed to

advise her customers and developers on

what to anticipate in the purchasing and

construction process.

Bernadette delights in working in the

real estate industry and her humor and

energy make her a pleasure to work with.

from the editor


This pine cone, and the seedlings that are sprouting from its seeds, represent the hope of reforestation for the imperiled Caicos pine yards.

A Seed of Hope

Folks around my age, give or take a decade or two, reminisce about the sprawling, majestic “pine yards” that

flanked the southern rock flats of North and Middle Caicos. They had a mysterious and awe-inspiring aura, representing

a wild, unexplored part of the Caribbean. The Caicos pines themselves —TCI’s National Tree — are a unique

species found nowhere else in the world. I was sad when I first heard 20 years ago that an invasive scale insect —

likely introduced via imported Christmas trees — was devastating the pine yard, followed by the “perfect storm” of

fire, flood and hurricane. I recall weeping on a trip to Middle Caicos when the tall, lush forest that used to hover in

the distance like a mirage was gone. To me, it was a symbol of an old way of life that was rapidly disappearing as

development, immigration and social change swept through the Turks & Caicos.

With great joy I read B Naqqi Manco’s article in this issue’s Green Pages. Thanks to his devotion with others

through the Caicos Pine Recovery Project, many leaps of faith and a great deal of hard work, the first once-damaged

tree is finally thriving and producing cones with their seeds spouting anew. I pray a similar resurrection is possible

for corals coming under attack from Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, finally under treatment thanks to the persistent

efforts of Don Stark and the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund, requiring much help from volunteers.

Thanks to Naqqi, Don and all those whose tireless labor and love, enhanced by a touch of God’s grace, are helping

to keep the Turks & Caicos Islands “Beautiful by Nature,” inside and out. You are my heroes.

Kathy Borsuk, Editor

timespub@tciway.tc • (649) 431-4788

6 www.timespub.tc

Introducing the Boathouses

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The Last of the True Exotics






Beaches ® Turks & Caicos has held the top spot at the

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Stay at one village and play at all five villages—Key

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featuring every land and water sport, an awe-inspiring

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Also included are tips, taxes, and Beaches transfers.*

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For more information visit BEACHES.COM

1-800-BEACHES or call your Travel Advisor





*Visit www.beaches.com/disclaimers/totispring2020btc or call 1-800-BEACHES for

important terms and conditions. Beaches ® is a registered trademark. Unique Vacations, Inc. is

an affiliate of Unique Travel Corp., the worldwide representative of Beaches Resorts.

For the fun of it.

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The world’s finest and

most sought-after

coffee beans are grown

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of Jamaica’s soaring

Blue Mountain range.

A blend of Jamaica

Blue Mountain coffee is

brewed fresh and served

complimentary at all

Beaches Resorts. Only

the best for our guests.


Master Chefs

5-Star Global Gourmet dining at

Beaches Resorts brings new sights,

sounds and tastes to each meal with

authentic dishes from around the

globe. Internationally trained chefs

create innovative dishes that are a

fusion of the freshest ingredients.

Recipes from around the world are

as delicious as dining in the country

of origin. We accommodate all

dietary requirements and restrictions

to ensure a worry-free vacation

for you and your loved ones.

For the

taste of it.

Everyone has different tastes, and that’s why Beaches includes

anytime 5-Star Global Gourmet dining at up to 21 outstanding

restaurants per resort. That means you can dine when you want,

where you want, and enjoy as much as you want, choosing

from an unprecedented variety of cuisines from around the

world. From the Southwest to Asia, Italy to France, and from

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incredible restaurant offers a new chef-inspired taste—all

perfectly paired with unlimited pours of Robert Mondavi Twin

Oaks ® wines. Plus special menus and restaurants for the kids!


1-800-BEACHES or call your Travel Advisor

@ beachesresorts

More Quality Inclusions Than Any Other Resorts In The World

Beaches ® is a registered trademark. Unique Vacations, Inc. is an affiliate of

Unique Travel Corp., the worldwide representative of Beaches Resorts.

2 0 1 9

Jamaica's Leading





The Leading Private Bank in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Where values are growing

Wealth Management • Bonds/Fixed Income

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Stocks/Equities • Precious Metals

Fixed deposits/CD’s • International Transfers

Turks & Caicos Banking Company Ltd.

The Regent Village, Unit H102, Grace Bay Road, Providenciales

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Regulated by the Financial Services Commission, Turks & Caicos Islands


w/Direct MLS Access

No Nonsense, Just Results!



Lyle Schmidek





Beth Charles








Kathy Borsuk


Claire Parrish


Kathy Borsuk, John Galleymore, Brian Heagney,

Norah Machia, B Naqqi Manco, Carlton Mills,

Dr. Caitlin E. O’Brien, Tanya Parnell, Dr. Michael P. Pateman,

Jody Rathgeb, Ben Stubenberg, Willette Swann,

Turks & Caicos Reef Fund Staff, Paul Wilkerson.


Almay Ltd., V. Di Miccoli, John Galleymore, Heidi Hertler,

International Slavery Museum Liverpool, Anthony Machia,

B Naqqi Manco, Mat Matlock, Marta Morton, NOAA,

Dr. Caitlin E. O’Brien, Tanya Parnell, Dr. Michael P. Pateman,

Karen Preikschat, Tom Rathgeb, Dominique Rolle—

Caya Hico Media, Barbara Shively, Bengt Soderqvist, Turks

& Caicos Reef Fund, Wikicommons, Amano Williams,

Yale University Press.


Claire Parrish, Wavey Line Publishing


PF Solutions, Miami, FL



Times of the Islands ISSN 1017-6853 is

published quarterly by Times Publications Ltd.

Copyright © 2020 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.

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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.

S A V E O V E R 5 0 %



Call us today for a renewable energy consultation

+1 649 332 1393 or +1 649 431 4242

Business Office

Times Publications Ltd., P.O. Box 234,

Lucille Lightbourne Building #1,

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI

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Advertising 649 431 7527

E-mail timespub@tciway.tc

Web: www.timespub.tc


14 www.timespub.tc

getting to know

From top: Gus walks with HM Queen

Elizabeth II prior to receiving the Queen’s

Commendation of Member of the British

Empire (MBE) on January 1, 1966. (Also see

bottom right photo.)

Gus stands with Deacon James Dean. Gus was

an active leader of the TCI Baptist Union’s

Deacon’s Board for 30 years.

Clockwise from top: Kathleen (“Katie”) Howell Lightbourne was Gus’s wife for 50 years.

Livingstone Swann was Gus’s “regarded brother,” longtime business partner and friend. Gus

was one of the country’s first taxi drivers. Gus stands with his grandsons Gregory and Elry

and son Tom. This is the front road in Blue Hills in 1967, with one of the three bicycles that

was on Providenciales. A sloop is under construction in Blue Hills, probably around 1970.

A Remarkable Journey

The life and times of Gustarvus O’Neil Lightbourne.

By Carlton Mills, Willette Swann & Tanya Parnell ~ Photos Courtesy Tanya Parnell & Bengt Soderqvist

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 15

Early life

Gustarvus Lightbourne (affectionately called Gus) was

born on January 27, 1921 to Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel

Lightbourne of Blue Hills, Providenciales. He attended

the Blue Hills School in High Rock and was taught by Mr.

Aaron Gardiner. Boys usually attended school until they

reached the age of 14, when they would learn a trade or

go fishing for a living. Gus was brought up by his grandparents,

who made sure that he attended school.

Gus’s life was filled with challenges and hardships. On

November 30, 1934, the General Express, a boat carrying

his father, his mother and two sisters, disappeared from

his sight in rough weather, never to be seen or heard from

again. This must have been a horrifying experience for

this young boy who had just become a teenager, yet he

still managed to move on. Those who knew Gus say, “He

always prepared for the worse.” Perhaps this early experience

influenced that attitude.

Another attitude apparent in Gus and his sons was

confident self-reliance. In the 1980s, when the flight

instructor consistently failed to show, Gus’s younger son

taught himself to fly an airplane. Gus’s elder son taught

himself plumbing with the new materials marketed in the


Young men look forward to owning a boat and in the

1930s, Gus took on the job of building one. Gus and

his “regarded” brother Livingstone Swann had gone into

the interior of Providenciales and found the branches

they considered suitable timbers for framing the size he

wanted. They had all the timber in the backyard when Gus

engaged a boat builder who was too busy to get to his

job. While waiting, Gus set the stern and transom into the

keel. When Gus’s grandfather Thomas Lightbourne (“Ole

Olemer”) saw what the boys had done he heaped encouragement

on them. Gus finished the boat and, at age 18,

was the owner of the G.L. Progress.

This boat made several trips to Haiti which was one

of the TCI’s main trading partners. Gus would take conch

and other marine products from the local fishermen to

Haiti to trade. In return, he brought back essential equipment,

food items, clothing, etc. His bold initiative opened

the gateway for a variety of goods and services to reach

the previously neglected Caicos Islands. During World War

II, when Turks & Caicos would otherwise be shut off from

the rest of the world, boats like the G.L. Progress made

several trips to Haiti to keep supplies coming in.

As it stood then, the bulk of the Islands’ international

trading activities took place at the ports of Grand Turk

and South Caicos. For people in the other Caicos Islands

to purchase items for their survival they had to travel to

South Caicos or Grand Turk by small sloops. With Gus’s

initiative, they now had direct contact with international

trading partners — The Bahamas, Dominican Republic and


Gus loved building boats. He built several and bestowed

on them fancy names such as the Glancing Shadow, the

Smack, K.C.M. Orlando (Livingstone Swann, Gus and

Livingstone’s brother Barrymore went on to marry three

of Edgar Howell’s daughters—Kathleen, Christiana and

Myrtle, and Barry spent time picking oranges in Orlando,

hence the boat’s name) and the Cassius (from the boxing

champion Cassius Clay). The Cassius was not a sailboat,

but was built for an outboard motor. Her faster speed

(from the same horsepower) and easier manoeuvrability

made her competitive for all-around efficiency with the

larger longboats built by Daniel Delancy. Gus not only

loved to build boats he also loved to race boats. He piloted

from the lee side and his competitors thought, “What nonsense”

until after the race.

Gus Lightbourne had a character larger than life. He is

described by many as a man who would tell you a piece

of his mind in a heartbeat. He was a no-nonsense fellow,

straightforward and plain-speaking, who did not stand for

foolishness. You knew where you stood with him because

he cut no corners. He was also described as being a sharp

fellow for his intellectual/engineering ability. This earned

him the nickname “Sharper.” He fell in love with Kathleen

“Katie” Howell and on September 28, 1944 they were married.

This union produced four children. Only two of them

survived past infancy.

Life’s challenges

Gus’s life was filled with challenges. He got shipwrecked

aboard the Lady Austin in 1941 while on a trip to

Mayaguana, Bahamas. In September 1945, while fishing

off Blue Hills on the G.L. Progress with a crew of five men,

a dangerous hurricane impacted the Islands. They were

totally unaware of the hurricane’s approach because, at

the time, they did not have modern warning systems.

Their mast broke and they drifted at sea for 12 days without

food and water. Through it all, God was with them.

Gus named the first land they sighted Atwood Cay

(Samana Cay is the more popular name today). With this

inspiration they struggled with wind and current, without

success, to get to Acklins. They finally ended up on

Crooked Island, Bahamas. They may have sold whatever

equity was left in the G.L. Progress to get themselves

16 www.timespub.tc


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treated and back home. This was a test of his faith which

did not stop him.

In 1946 Gus, still undeterred by his previous losses,

launched the 10 ton General Progress. This boat was used

to take passengers to Pine Ridge, Grand Bahama (Freeport)

and bring back lumber and remittances from family members

living and working there. Because of hardships at

home, many men from the TCI sought economic opportunities

in The Bahamas to be able to provide for their

families. This link provided an opportunity for people to

travel to and from The Bahamas and fostered the opportunity

for trade. This was another vital service that Gus was

instrumental in providing.

It is through this initiative that Gus was able to establish

a long-lasting relationship not only between The

Bahamas and the TCI, but specifically with Pine Ridge and

the Caicos Islands. There was a labour agreement between

the two country’s governments; these trips serviced that

agreement. Many of the men from the Islands found

employment opportunities in the Pine Yard in Freeport.

As Freeport developed, they found work in the hotels and

taxi business.

Unfortunately, after more than 40 trips, the General

Progress was wrecked in July 1954. Another misfortune

for Gus, but despite this major setback the trade continued

using a leased boat called the Cherry Top. Most of the

lumber was consigned to the Turks & Caicos Government—

still repairing 1945 hurricane damage. Perhaps the most

important cargo was not lumber though, but remittances

to family members of those employed in Pine Ridge.

In mid-1958 the famous 20 ton K. C. M. Orlando

was launched. The Orlando served Turks & Caicos well:

Customs officials say she was 21 tons—she always came

home overloaded. During Hurricane Donna in September

1960, Gus watched as two year-old K. C. M. Orlando parted

moorings at Wheeland. Recognising her importance to the

life and livelihood of his people he gave chase on foot. She

smashed one side and ended up on Piece-O-Bay (a small

piece of sandy beach between what is now Thompson

Cove and Turtle Cove Marina). Because she was badly

needed, a praiseworthy repair effort was exerted and by

December she was back at sea. In February 1967, after

35 trips to The Bahamas and 3 to Puerta Plata, she was

wrecked in a storm with 26 adults and 16 children aboard.

Not one of the passengers or crew was lost.

Church life

Gus was a devoted Christian who spent much of his time

18 www.timespub.tc

while not at sea participating in his church—Bethany

Baptist in Blue Hills. Every time you met him, he would

speak of the goodness of his God. He was baptized in

March 1939 and served as a Sunday School teacher and

secretary from 1939 to 1955.

In July 1954, his faith was tested. While he was in his

field, he got the news that his first-born son had suffered

a serious wound. Ironically, there was no boat to

take him to South Caicos to see a doctor. The following

night, the house caught fire. Despite these unfortunate

circumstances, which would have provided good reason

for others to remain at home, Gus was present in church

on Sunday morning.

After teaching Sunday School that day, there was no

preacher present and the congregants encouraged Gus

to take the pulpit. One member argued with him when he

said he felt “unfit for the position,” telling Gus, “If you’re

not fit for one thing, you’re not fit for any other.” He took

the pulpit and from that day, never looked back. When the

new church building was dedicated on March 25, 1955,

Gus was ordained as a deacon by itinerant minister Rev.

R.E. Rhynie.

In 1964, Gus was seconded to lead the congregation

at Jericho Baptist Church in The Bight. Having met that

need and returned to Bethany, Gus was instrumental in

getting electricity to the church in 1971 with its own generator.

He was the first without formal theological training

to become president of the Turks & Caicos Islands Baptist

Union from 1966–1973 and vice president from 1973–


In 1969 Gus, along with Rev. E.N.S. Hall, represented

the Turks & Caicos Islands Baptist Union at a regional

conference in Jamaica. During this time, the TCI Baptist

churches were supported by the Jamaica Baptist Union.

At this meeting, he made an appeal for help with training

local ministers, and by the following year training would

be provided for the first five ministers from TCI to take

over the running of the churches. This is what he was agitating

for in his speech and daily actions for many years.

His dream had come true and he credited his God for all

of his successes.


The island of Blue Hills (Providenciales) that Gus lived on

in the early 1950s was undeveloped. Residents traversed

via footpaths. There was no electricity, no banking, no

running water and no indoor plumbing. Commercial and

economic life was centred around Grand Turk, Salt Cay

and South Caicos—the Salt Islands as they were called.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 19

M Page 1




Lures and Live Bait

Marine Hardware & Gear

Fishing Gear & Supplies

Marine Paints & Varnish

Marine Batteries

Sebago Docksiders

& Sperry Topsiders Shoes

















PHONE: 649-946-4411

FAX: 649-946-4945

Hugh final_Layout 1 5/29/17 1:15 PM Page 1










P.O. Box 267

Hibernian House

1136 Leeward Highway


Turks and Caicos Islands


Tel 649-946-4514

Fax 649-946-4955

Email hugh.oneill@hgoneillco.tc













The Salt Islands had some form of political representation

in the form of nominated members. The other Caicos

Islands were not really considered part of the family of

Islands. The country, being governed from Jamaica, was

far removed from direct political involvement. No political

figure considered visiting the other Caicos Islands

because of their remoteness. Gus was one who set about

agitating for social and economic changes.

When Governor of Jamaica HE Sir Hugh Foot visited the

Caicos Islands in 1953, he held a town meeting where all

Caicos Islanders should attend. Paul Higgs and Gustarvus

Lightbourne stood out as potential leaders. When invited

to Grand Turk to meet with Governor Foot, both men

challenged him for provision of political representation to

the Caicos Islands. After much persuasion, the governor

agreed and by 1956 held a trial general election.

Members of the Caicos Islands were involved in the local

government. This was regarded as TCI’s first Legislative

Assembly. Because of the nature of the 1956 government

(unsupported by a Constitution Order) the new members

could not receive any form of compensation. They got

themselves to and from meetings in Grand Turk. This did

not matter to these men, who were about country, not

self. They worked for three years putting together a new

constitution which came into force in 1959.

This was a significant political milestone for the TCI as

things were happening rapidly in the British West Indies.

The constitution that these men designed accommodated

authority for the Administrator (local government),

Jamaica (the administrator of record), the West Indian

Federation and the UK. Soon they were back to the drawing

board as Jamaica was withdrawing from the Federation,

opting for independence. Then the Federation itself collapsed.

This provided the opportunity for TCI to break

away from Jamaica. Five elected representatives from the

Caicos Islands voted for improved status with the UK; four

from the Salt Islands voted to be part of Jamaica. Gus was

a part of the team that went to Jamaica and to the UK to

discuss the logistics of implementing this change. The

new constitution came into force on August 6, 1962, a

clear indication of the team’s vision.

The new constitution included:

• A Legislative Body consisting of some ex-officio

members, some nominated members and a number of

members elected by universal adult suffrage.

• An Executive Council consisting of officials and

elected members of the Legislature with whom the

Commissioner would be required to consult.

This was the beginning of a new political direction for

20 www.timespub.tc

the TCI. Local members were now involved in discussions

about the direction in which the country should go.

During Gus’s 1962 term in office, times in the Islands

were tough. The salt industry was on the decline and

there were talks of a merger with The Bahamas. This

failed in 1964. Our leaders felt that The Bahamas needed

to better develop their own southeastern islands before

the TCI could consider becoming a part of them. They

also remembered their past experience with The Bahamas

which led to the Separation Act of 1848. However, they

agreed to meet with officials of The Bahamas and continue

talks after two years. While they waited, an opportunity


A group under the leadership of Fritz Ludington was

attracted to Providenciales while flying over, amazed at its

natural beauty. They saw the potential for development

and immediately submitted a proposal to the government.

Of course, one of the first persons they met with

was Gus. He believed that if Providenciales were to move

forward, government would have to sacrifice land. Almost

single-handedly, Gus brought this opportunity to fruition.

Despite his conviction and eagerness, Gus had a major

obstacle. Mr. Wood, who chaired the council of the day,

adamantly opposed the development—but Gus did not

give up. Members of Bethany Baptist Church remembered

Gus preaching that God’s Word accomplishes that

for which it is sent, even though that fact might not be

immediately apparent. He spoke that Word in the House

of Assembly, then went to his abode to rest. He later

described how he received a vision from God to go and

see Mr. Wood. He obeyed. As Gus walked towards the

north, Chairman Wood was walking south to see him to

indicate his approval.

The Assembly voted in favour of the development—the

initiative that jump-started the economy of Providenciales.

Gus fought for this because he believed that once

Providenciales developed, it would positively impact the

Caicos Islands and eventually the entire Turks & Caicos


Gus Lightbourne had a passion for his country. He

was a true patriot. He served for three consecutive terms

(1956, 1959 and 1962) giving him nearly a dozen years

of providing representation for his people.

Other achievements

Gus’s life was blessed with several major achievements,

including being Providenciales’ first trucker, first frozen

grocer and first taxi driver. He was the recipient of the

Queen’s Commendation of Member of the British Empire

(MBE) on January 1, 1966 and the Order of the British

Empire (OBE) on June 13, 1998. He was also appointed as

Justice of the Peace.

Gustarvus Lightbourne was an outstanding Turks &

Caicos Islander. He was certainly a man committed and

dedicated to country. He was relentless in his efforts to

make the Caicos Islands a place where his people could

live comfortably. His actions clearly demonstrated that he

believed that Turks & Caicos Islanders should play their

rightful roles in their country.

Gus enjoyed sharing his experiences with anyone

who found the time to listen. He held a treasure trove

of historical knowledge and I am honoured to have had

the opportunity to sit at his feet. He passed away on

September 24, 2005. It was great loss for the Turks &

Caicos Islands. a

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 21

eye on the sky

Opposite page: Waterspouts form rather infrequently under general thunderstorms over the open ocean.

Above: In the Turks & Caicos Islands, spotting waterspouts has been a bit more common over the last several years.

Nature’s Ephemeral Vortex

The spin on waterspouts.

By Paul Wilkerson ~ Photos By Marta Morton, www.harbourclubvillas.com

Waterspouts have been occurring for as long as memories have been recorded. On August 19, 1896 a

waterspout developed over Vineyard Sound near Cottage City, Massachusetts. While at the time, it was

rare for these to be seen from land, especially in the Northeast, mariners often saw these twisting clouds

over the open waters of the Atlantic. These sailors would return with their stories, and often regaled locals

about their close encounters with this strange phenomenon.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 23

Here we are, some 124 years later, and we remain

just as fascinated with these meteorological wonders.

Waterspouts happen across the globe, with most occurring

in tropical and sub-tropical locations. It is however,

not out of the question to see waterspouts form over

large lakes as well as in northern latitudes, such as off

the coast of Maine and Massachusetts.

In the Turks & Caicos Islands, spotting waterspouts

has been a bit more common over the last several years. It

isn’t necessarily that they are occurring more frequently,

but that with advances in technology, people can more

readily can capture these events with their cell phones

and transmit photos around the world in seconds.

Are waterspouts the same as tornadoes?

We need to first take a look at how waterspouts form and

how they relate to their more sinister cousins, tornadoes.

Waterspouts form rather infrequently under general thunderstorms

over the open ocean. They also occur under

towering cumulus clouds and even form at times under

fair weather cumulus. Waterspouts that form at the base

of a thunderstorm tend to be stronger than those that

develop under other forms of cumulus clouds.

In order to get waterspouts to form, there needs to

be a clockwise turning of the winds in the atmosphere

starting at the water surface. It is common to have winds

out of the southeast at the surface in the Islands. Two

hundred feet above the water, winds may be from the

south. Four hundred feet above the water, winds could

be from the southwest. It is this turning in the winds as

you ascend into the atmosphere that causes a column of

air to rotate. As this column of air rotates and contracts,

speeds increase in response.

The first indication of a waterspout may be the formation

of a clockwise swirl on the water’s surface. Once

the column of air begins to rotate faster, a spiraling spray

ring may become noticeable as water is lifted off the surface

and becomes airborne around the whirling vortex

itself. As the vortex matures, moisture may condensate,

causing cloud formation within the vortex and giving


On August 19, 1896 a waterspout developed over Vineyard Sound near Cottage City, Massachusetts. This is believed to be one of the first

photographs of a waterspout.

24 www.timespub.tc

TWATIMES_Layout 1 2/16/17 7:49 AM Page 1

viewers a complete view of the rotating column of air

from the base of the cloud all the way to the water. In

some cases, the funnel may not fully condensate, leaving

those watching only a view of the funnel at the water’s

surface and directly at cloud level.

Waterspouts usually are not a long lasting event.

They generally will dissipate after warm air is no longer

being pulled into the vortex. This can be caused by rainfall

cooling the air directly around the funnel or the inflow

of cooler air in the area.

On occasion, if waterspouts form close enough to

land, they can come ashore and are then called tornadoes.

Conversely, tornadoes that move over water

become waterspouts. Thankfully, waterspouts are not

nearly as strong as their more formidable cousins that

form frequently each year in the United States. The life

cycle of a tornado almost always starts with a very strong

thunderstorm and generally occurs over the central and

southern plains of the United States. For tornadoes to

occur, very strong upper level winds are necessary, along

with a sharp drop in temperatures as you ascend in the

atmosphere. When these ingredients come together, they

can produce strong thunderstorms that sometimes produce

tornadoes. Tornadoes are classified on the Enhanced

Fujita scale with winds ranging from 65 MPH on the low

end to more than 200 MPH on the high end.

Thankfully, tornadoes are extremely rare in the

Islands. In general, the only time tornadoes occur in the

Turks & Caicos is during hurricanes. Several tornadoes

reportedly occurred during the thrashing Hurricane Irma

inflicted on the country in 2017. Also, a rare tornado was

observed at the Providenciales International Airport on

April 8, 2011 that lasted ten minutes. It caused no damage

but raised dust on the runway.

Serving international & domestic clients in real estate, property development,

mortgages, corporate & commercial matters, immigration, & more.


Are waterspouts dangerous?

Yes, waterspouts can be dangerous. While they are not

as strong as tornadoes, wind speeds in waterspouts

generally can reach as high as 67 MPH. (However, photogrammetry

has theoretically determined wind speeds

of 180 to 190 MPH occurring 10 meters [32.8 feet] from

the center of the waterspouts.) Imagine you are on a fishing

vessel on the ocean and you encounter one of these

waterspouts. It would not be uncommon to be encountering

winds of less than 10 MPH on the open ocean and

suddenly find yourself encountering 40 to 50 MPH winds

with a waterspout!

Marine vessels are at significant danger when

encountering waterspouts. If you are a marine operator,

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 25

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* *

Temporary suspension PROVO NORTH 12.30pm & 1.30pm Sept 1st to Oct 31st


Resumes Nov 1st

it is always advisable to check the weather forecast for

the day and be mindful of any clouds developing in the

area. By keeping an eye on the skies, you can keep your

vessel safely away from developing danger. As a sailor,

if you find yourself staring at a waterspout in close proximity,

you would do well to seek safe harbor. If that is

not available, give the waterspout as wide of a bearth as

possible, as their movement can be unpredictable.

A common myth is that waterspouts will dissipate

when encountering land. This is 100% NOT TRUE.

Waterspouts do routinely come ashore, sometimes with

disastrous results. Beachgoers marvel at the appearance

of a waterspout and falsely assume that it won’t come

near the shore and affect them. There are plenty of documented

stories where people have been caught on the

beach as these watery beasts start causing damage to

waterfront homes, condominium complexes and the surrounding


If you find yourself on the beach and taking in the

wonder of a waterspout, you need to be aware that you

are likely at risk of injury should the waterspout transition

to land. It is always best to exercise caution and

take cover inside a building or other sturdy structure.

Waterspouts that transition to land can pick up beach

umbrellas, turning them into spears. They can pick up

lounge chairs and turn them into blunt force objects that

can severely injure people. They can also pick up sand

and cause sandblast injuries to the eyes of folks caught

too close by. When in doubt, seek a safe way out. It is


My family and I have not been privy to seeing a waterspout

in the Turks & Caicos during our visits, but we have

seen images of them from those who have photographed

them. Waterspouts are one of the most spectacular visual

displays Mother Nature offers. Respect this show of power

and view them from a safe location to ensure your ability

to enjoy all that the Turks & Caicos Islands have to offer,

including the lovely weather.

(By the way, one thing you will NOT see in the TCI

is a winter waterspout, also known as a snow devil or a

snowspout. This is an extremely rare instance of a waterspout

forming under the base of a snow squall. Very little

is known about this phenomenon.) 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.

26 www.timespub.tc

If you find yourself on the beach and

watching a waterspout, be aware that you

are at risk of injury should the

waterspout transition to land.

creature feature


Chitons are recognized by eight overlapping armor plates surrounded

and held together by a leathery girdle.

Armadillos of the Sea

Chitons possess a range of amazing qualities.

By Brian Heagney, B.Sc Marine Biology

Tucked away in intertidal rock pools on the southwest point of Gibbs Cay in the Turks Islands, there are

clusters of tiny dinosaurs called chitons. These ancient mariners are easily overlooked by the untrained

eye, but they do deserve a second glance if you have the chance to visit “Stingray Island.” With a fossil

record stretching back to the Devonion period 400 million years ago, these surprising little critters have

a design that has successfully stood the test of time.

28 www.timespub.tc

Chitons, commonly referred to as Coat of Mail shells

or Sea Cradles, are a relatively small marine mollusc easily

recognized by eight overlapping armor plates (valves)

surrounded and held together by a leathery girdle or

mantle. Small nodules of the mineral aragonite embedded

in the shell provide a lens through which the aesthetes

(unique light sensitive cells) lying below can detect light,

movement and possibly even discern shapes. The chiton

essentially “sees” through these opaque rocks in its shell,

visual equipment unlike that of almost any other creature.

The girdle is often ornamented with hairy tufts, bristles,

spikes or scales that provide camouflage and may

also aid in defence. In some species including the largest

(the Gumboot Chiton or Wandering Meatloaf), the mantle

actually covers the entire shell.

The armor plates themselves are articulated and can

flex and move over each other, offering both protection

and freedom of movement over the jagged intertidal

rocks on which they choose to make their home. When

a chiton dies, the girdle decomposes and the individual

plates fall apart. These may be discovered by keen-eyed

beachcombers and are referred to as Butterfly Shells.

Most chitons are herbivorous grazers, roaming the

rocks under cover of darkness, feeding on encrusting

algae by scraping it into their mouth with a tooth-covered

tongue called a radula (from the Latin radere “to scrape”).

There are, however, some carniverous chitons, competing

with all the suspense and horror of a good Ridley Scott

movie. The predatory species Placiphorella velata waits

patiently in ambush, its body held aloft. Smaller animals

seeking shelter and shade under this murderous cave

are crushed to death and consumed should they inadvertently

touch the sensitive tentacles below and spring the

deadly trap above.

The chiton’s teeth are of significant interest to science

as their microscopic structure and composition—a

matrix of organic tissue and inorganic minerals—makes

the teeth incredibly wear-resistant, allowing the chiton to

nonchalantly chew through rock. A chiton literally makes

its home (scar) in the rock by eating the rock away. The

teeth contain magnetite or iron (II, III) oxide, a crystal

compound that is also found in the beaks of homing

pigeons and is the most magnetic of all the natural minerals.

These highly magnetic inorganic teeth are found

nowhere else in the animal kingdom and may explain the

chiton’s remarkable homing ability, after a night of foraging,

to use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate back

to precisely the same home scar in the rock.

Their taxonomic class name is Polyplachophora

(many plated). Unlike most molluscs, conch for example,

chitons cannot withdraw back into their shell. Instead

they use their very powerful, muscular foot to cling to

the rocks like a limpet and are almost impossible to prise

off. When dislodged from the substrate, the chiton can

roll up into a protective ball, like a tiny marine armadillo.

The chitons’ main predators are man (naturally),

seagulls, starfish, crabs, lobsters and fish. Chitons

are eaten in several parts of the world including the

Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Tobago, The Bahamas,

Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, St. Maarten and Barbados. The

foot of the chiton is prepared in a manner similar to abalone.

They don’t seem to be on the menu in the Turks &

Caicos though, conch being the much-preferred option.

Next time you look into a rock pool you may see a

little armored snail, present from the dawn of time with

magnetic teeth that can pulverize rock with its tongue

and see through eyes of made of stone—an amazing little

animal that you probably didn’t even know was there. 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.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 29

green pages

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 environment@gov.tc or dema.tci@gmail.com • web https://www.gov.tc/decr/


A healthy, thriving star coral formation is a beautiful sight to behold. We must fight Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease NOW.

The Battle Begins

Treatment program to fight Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease underway.

By the Staff of the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF)

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is a new coral disease that was first discovered off the coast of

Florida in 2014. Over the past five years it has spread rapidly up and down the Atlantic coast of Florida

and well into the Florida Keys. It is a devasting disease affecting 20 species of very slow-growing corals

that are the foundation of many coral reef systems. In some coral species monitored in Florida, the disease

reportedly had an 80% mortality rate.

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green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources


The cause of this disease is suspected to be bacterial.

The troublesome thing about bacterial diseases is that

they can be easily transferred from one area to another

via currents, marine life and even by divers picking up the

disease’s causative agent on their dive gear and spreading

it by using that same gear on other sites where the

disease has possibly not yet been observed.

SCTLD first appeared in TCI waters in January 2019

on the reefs of South Caicos. Then in May 2019 it was

found on the southern reefs off the coast of West Caicos

and within six weeks it had spread to the reefs covering

the entire length of West Caicos. The disease has moved

eastward and has been observed on the Northwest Point

reefs and even in Grace Bay. In November 2019, SCTLD

was confirmed on the reefs off the coast of Grand Turk.

The “sort of” good news is that the extremely high

water temperatures observed on TCI’s reefs this past

summer appears to have slowed the progression of the

disease. This is only “sort of” good news as the high water

temperatures caused a major bleaching event, putting a

new stress on the same corals that are susceptible to

SCTLD. Many corals will recover from bleaching and many

appear to be doing so as cooler water temperatures have

returned. But the cooling water is bringing SCTLD back to


Since August 2019, Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF)

staff and the Department of Environment & Coastal

Resources (DECR) have been monitoring the spread and

progression of the disease on West Caicos, Northwest

Point, Grace Bay and all the way to Pine Cay. Although the

disease outbreak on South Caicos and West Caicos has

been severe, other reefs around Providenciales and Pine

Cay appear to have only minor infections at the present

time. So NOW is the time to act to do something about

SCTLD and prevent severe damage to our valuable and

important coral reefs.

At right: These are the symptoms of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.

It affects 20 species of corals that create much of the structure of

TCI’s coral reefs, including brain corals, pillar corals and boulder corals.

Once a stony coral dies, the structure of the reef begins to decline.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 31

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources


These volunteers will be the underwater army in the fight against

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. They will be applying a special antibiotic-based

paste to prevent the spread of the disease across TCI’s

beautiful reefs. Prior to entering the “battleground,” they were trained

(from top) in roving diver survey techniques and the proper way to

apply the treatment. Training included an extensive workshop held at

the DECR’s headquarters in The Bight.

In late January 2020, the TCI Government’s

Department of Environment and Coastal Resources

approved a treatment plan for SCTLD proposed by the

Turks & Caicos Reef Fund. This treatment protocol is

based on research conducted by scientists in Florida who

have been dealing with the consequences of this disease

since 2014. We happily will benefit from all this research

and not have to reinvent the wheel.

Our proposed treatment protocol involves making a

paste of a base (either shea butter or a special base created

by a pharmaceutical supplier in Florida) incorporated

with amoxicillin, a penicillin antibiotic. That antibiotic

paste is then spread on a coral head around the margin of

the infected area. If the base is shea butter, it is then covered

with modeling clay to hold it in place. In Florida, this

treatment has been shown to be between 67% and 80%

effective in stopping the disease progression. The coral

head will have a dead spot where the infection started,

and that area will not likely grow back any coral polyps

as algae quickly takes over, but the rest of the coral head

can be saved in many cases.

TCRF and DECR are now training volunteers and team

leaders on how to identify the susceptible coral species,

how to identify SCTLD and differentiate it from other coral

diseases, how to prepare the antibiotic treatment and

how to administer the treatment. The first team of eight

volunteers was trained on February 6, 2020. Treated coral

heads will be tagged with a yellow or green numbered

tag so that the effect of the treatment can be monitored.

Each treated coral head will be monitored approximately

monthly. In many cases one treatment does the trick, but

in some cases, retreatment will be needed.

“Because this is a treatment done on a coral head by

coral head basis, it is very time consuming,” said Alizee

Zimmermann, Project Manager for the TCRF’s treatment

effort. “We are going to need more volunteers who are

experienced divers, who have flexible schedules and who

do not have a penicillin allergy to tackle this potentially

devastating problem. We also need a lot of eyes on the

reef, so we will be conducting special training sessions

for volunteers who may not fit the requirements to be one

of the treaters, but who can help us gather data on the

extent and progression of the disease by doing what we

call roving diver surveys.”

Roving diver surveys are a simple technique which

involves swimming in a line at a fixed depth for a min-

32 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

imum of 10 minutes and counting all the corals in an

area approximately six feet wide. The susceptible species

are tallied as undiseased, potentially diseased, diseased

or dead. A large number of volunteers are needed to

conduct these surveys all around the TCI. Any diver interested

in becoming a roving diver surveyor should contact

the TCRF at info@tcreef.org.

SCTLD affects 20 species of corals that create much

of the structure of our coral reefs. These include brain

corals, pillar corals and boulder corals. It is not thought

to affect sponges or soft corals such as sea whips and sea

fans, but these species do little to provide coastal protection

or habitat for fish and other animals that live on the

reefs. When a stony coral dies from SCTLD, it begins to

erode and the structure of the reef begins to decline.

Obviously, this treatment approach is very laborintensive,

time-consuming and costly, but it has to be

done to save the TCI reefs. TCRF’s goal is to be out on

the water at least two days a week treating and monitoring.

This means we will need a fairly large group of

volunteer divers who have flexible schedules and can go

out to work with TCRF on this project. Any experienced

diver (over 100 dives) who is not allergic to penicillin and

who is willing to learn the challenging art of coral identification

is encouraged to contact TCRF about becoming a

volunteer for this effort by emailing donstark@tcreef.org

or calling TCRF directly at 649 347 8455 or filling out the

volunteer form on the TCRF website (www.tcreef.org).

TCRF has reached out to local businesses and individuals

in an attempt to raise money to support this effort,

but more funding is needed if we are to be successful in

saving the TCI reefs. Funding is needed to pay for a project

manager to oversee the work, boat use and fuel and

supplies (amoxicillin, shea butter, syringes, gloves, etc.).

If you want to help, please go to www.tcreef.org/donate

or contact TCRF Chairman Don Stark directly at 649 347

8455 to contribute to the cause! a

Special thanks to those businesses and individuals who

have already generously donated to support this effort,

including Dive Provo who has allowed our project manager

for this effort to go out on their boats when space is

available at no charge to do regular monitoring.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 33

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources


Octopuses are among the most intelligent of animals without a backbone, as they have one of the largest of invertebrate brains.

The Elusive Octopus

Octopus spotting in the TCI.

By Dr. Caitlin E. O’Brien,

The School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies

Caribbean waters are home to several species of octopus, which are some of the most extraordinary creatures

of the ocean. Octopuses (not octopi) can be more difficult to spot than many other marine creatures,

but the experience of seeing one is well worth the effort.

34 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

What are they?

Octopuses are Molluscs in the Class Cephalopoda, along

with squid, cuttlefish and nautilus. The word “cephalopod”

originates from the Greek words for “head” and

“foot,” referring to the fact that their heads are attached

directly to their “feet.” Cephalopods first appeared around

500 million years ago as shelled creatures known as

ammonites, nautiluses and belemnites. Ammonites later

went extinct, existing today only as spiral fossils popular

with collectors. Most nautilus died out too, although six

species still exist in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Belemnites

eventually evolved into the 800 or so species of squid,

cuttlefish and octopus known today. Among these, most

of the approximately 300 species of octopus live in shallow,

coastal areas, although a few deep-sea and pelagic

species are also known.

Octopus biology is quite bizarre. In addition to a soft

body with eight arms (not tentacles), they possess three

hearts and have blue blood due to the presence of copper

(hemocyanin) rather than iron (hemoglobin). The arms

are also quite extraordinary. Covered with hundreds of

flexible suckers, they are capable of adhering to almost

any surface with considerable force. Not only do they

assist octopus in locomotion, but the suckers also have

the ability to “taste” in order to help locate tasty critters

under rocks and corals. Equally extraordinary is the fact

that an arm severed from the body will eventually grow

back, and sometimes an octopus will even intentionally

sacrifice one to a predator in order to escape.

Octopus have a wide range of near-supernatural

tricks to protect themselves. They can avoid being seen

in the first place due to their ability to change the color,

iridescence and texture of their skin. Small sacs of ink

expand and contract to instantly create different colors

and patterns, and to modify the skin’s reflectiveness. The

effect is accentuated by muscles that can raise or smooth

out patches of skin (papillae) to create a rough texture

resembling algae. When threatened, octopuses can

escape by squeezing themselves through any hole larger

than their parrot-like beak. Alternatively, they can propel

themselves rapidly away by quickly sucking in water and

shooting it out their siphon. They may also eject ink at

the same time, either in the form of a gelatinous blob to

act as a diversion or as a “smokescreen” to hide behind.

Predators of octopus include sharks, dolphins, eels, large

fish and humans.

Octopuses are largely asocial creatures, only seeking

out other octopus towards the end of their lifespans

in order to mate. Before then, they try to steer clear of

others in order to avoid being eaten by one of their own.

Octopuses have only one reproductive event in their

A common octopus swims across the sea floor. It prefers to hunt crustaceans and bivalves in rocky areas and coral reefs at dawn and dusk.


Times of the Islands Spring 2020 35

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources


Caribbean octopus are typically found sheltering in natural rock or

coral crevices.

lives, although both females and males can mate multiple

times. After reaching the end of their natural lifespan

(usually one to two years), males will go through a period

called senescence, in which their bodies rapidly deteriorate

and they behave recklessly, often swimming in the

open without regard to predators before dying or being

eaten. Females on the other hand will select a well-protected

crevice in which to lay their eggs. Thereafter, she

will carefully tend to them, fending off predators and gently

cleaning their surfaces of debris. During this time, she

forgoes food and rarely leaves the den. When the eggs

hatch several weeks later, she dies and the planktonic

young go on to drift in the current until they are large

enough to settle on the seafloor.

Octopuses are among the most intelligent of animals

without a backbone (invertebrate). They can solve

puzzles and mazes, and are notorious for their Houdiniesque

feats of escape from aquarium enclosures. This

cognition is made possible by one of the largest of

invertebrate brains, consisting of more than 200 million

neurons, and which is donut-shaped and wrapped around

the esophagus. In addition, each of the eight arms has

its own “mini-brain” which allows it to perform actions

semi-autonomously. In fact, an arm that is severed from

an octopus will still move, seemingly unaware that it has

been disconnected.

How can I find them?

Octopus of the Caribbean are typically found in relatively

shallow (

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

or attempt to escape. If this happens, the best thing to

do is be as still as possible in order to allow the octopus

to habituate to your presence. However, some octopus

are extremely curious and may reach out to touch you.

If this happens, there is nothing to fear: as soon as they

realize you’re not a crab they will likely let go. Less often,

octopus can be found out hunting. In this case, it is best

to sit back and watch . . . no one likes being interrupted

during dinner!

Octopus vulgaris, the common octopus

In addition to the Caribbean, this species can be found in

tropical and temperate waters across the globe. It ranges

in color from solid white to brown, along with a variety

of mottled patterns. The common octopus can grow up

to three feet long from mantle to arm tips, and hunts

crustaceans and bivalves in rocky areas and coral reefs.

It is a crepuscular species, meaning it prefers to hunt at

dawn and dusk, although it may be found out and about

at other times as well. However, the best way to find

one is to look for holes and crevices with a shell “midden”—

piles of shells and rocks around the den entrance

representing prior meals as well as providing octopus

with a sort of “shield” if a predator attacks.

Octopus briareus,

the Caribbean reef octopus

The Caribbean reef octopus is one of the most beautiful

octopus species due to its typically rainbow appearance.

While they are predominantly blue, they can take on a

range of colors and mottles, including dark red. Fully

grown members of this species can weigh up to three

pounds, eating crustaceans hidden in crevices of coral

reefs. This species is nocturnal, spending daytime in difficult-to-locate

dens. For this reason, the best way to see

one is to go night diving or snorkelling on a shallow coral


Macrotritopus defilippi,

the Atlantic longarm octopus

The Atlantic longarm octopus is the smallest of the three

species, with the body growing up to three and a half

inches. However, as its name implies, its arms are very

long and it can sometimes be seen using these arms

to masquerade as a flounder. Its color can be anything

between solid white to mottled yellow and brown. It

A Caribbean reef octopus envelops a coral head with its arms in

search of prey.

hunts small crustaceans on the sandy sea bottom and in

seagrass beds, and unlike the previous two species, can

often be seen doing so during the day. Dens are more

difficult to locate, as this species has the ability to bury

itself completely in sand.

Now that you know a little more about these amazing

creatures, you’re ready to get out in the sea and go octopus

spotting. Good luck! a

Further reading

Hanlon, R.T. and Messenger, J.B., 2018. Cephalopod

behaviour. Cambridge University Press.

Jereb, P., Roper, C., Norman, M., Finn, J., et al., 2016.

Cephalopods of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated

Catalogue of Species Known to Date. Vol. 3. Octopods and

Vampire Squids.

Humann, P., Deloach, N. and Wilk, L., 2002. Reef creature

identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas.


Times of the Islands Spring 2020 37

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

This Caicos pine seedling, with needles yet to shrug off chunks of the algal mat in which pine seeds often germinate, grew from seeds dropped

in October. It is among the first of its kind grown in the wild in over ten years.

Phoenix from the Ashes?

Good news for the TCI’s National Tree.

Story & Photos By B Naqqi Manco, TCI Naturalist

The Turks & Caicos Islands’ National Tree, the stately Caicos pine Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis, has

had a rough few decades recently. Following the introduction of the invasive pine tortoise scale insect,

which infests trees through their fatality, as well as a sea surge and catastrophic wildfire in 2008–2009,

and then several more significant hurricanes, over 97% of the population of this vital species was lost.

Caicos pine is the foundation species of the pine yard, part of the globally imperiled pine rockland

ecosystem, a habitat unique to the Caicos Islands and northern Bahamas, with fragments in southern

Florida (but hosting a different species of pine).

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green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

Since 2008 the Caicos Pine Recovery Project has

been striving to save the species and help restore its

ecosystem. The team members — researchers, conservationists,

technicians and volunteers from numerous

government agencies, NGOs and institutions — all understood

that their efforts may not yield appreciable or even

visible results during their lifetimes.

Trees work on a different time scale than humans

they don’t care that we only live a handful of decades

when their lifetimes span centuries. It takes a certain

naïve and somewhat dismal optimism to dedicate one’s

life to saving trees and the ecosystems they support,

along with an acceptance that one really doesn’t have

enough time to carry one’s work to completion because

human mortality will eventually interfere.

A few of those committing their time to Caicos pine

recovery remember the tall, shady forests of pine strewn

across the rocky plains on the southern rock flats of

Middle and North Caicos, a broad band of fragrant forest

sandwiched between the broadleaf thicket and the

mangrove swamps. None of them imagined they would

be there to see the forest return to that sort of glory.

And yet they drudged on: Collecting and sowing seeds,

tending a nursery, cultivating the unique symbiotic fungi

that live on the pines’ roots, cleaning pine needles of

pests, researching the genetics and chemistry and stress

and symbioses of the pines and maintaining the essential

element of fire in their habitat.

Pine yard, surprisingly, is a forest that needs to burn

— it is fire-dependent, and exclusion of fire for too long

Top right: In May 2012, there were very few pine trees in Burn Plot 2, and none were strong enough to reproduce.

Above: In December 2019, the same Burn Plot 2 hosts several dozen healthy, robust Caicos pine trees that have reached reproductive age and

strength. Hundreds more grow in surrounding burn plots.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 39

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

leads to invasion by broadleaf trees and an eventual total

and permanent takeover. Pine seedlings can’t grow in

broadleaf trees’ dense shade — but broadleaf trees can’t

take repeated ground fires like pine can. Lightning strikes

used to ignite pine yards, but the habitat’s fragmentation

from the scale insect now prevents fires from functioning

in the proper way. Controlled burns are the answer,

wherein teams of specialists prepare the ground, cut firebreaks

and expertly apply fire to the habitat in a way that

it is safe for humans and trees. The first controlled burn

in May 2012 was successful (in that there were no accidents,

escaped fires or pine trees permanently harmed)

but none of the burn team knew just how successful it

would be.

Within months of the burn, there were obvious benefits:

Saplings that had been festooned with scale insects

and stunted for years by their parasitism suddenly

flushed with new growth and quadrupled their height in

a year. The release of nutritious ash into the soil and the

reduction of broadleaf competition, coupled with scale

insects’ dislike of heat and smoke, encouraged growth.

But with mature pines all but gone there was no significant

seed production (those that remained bore cones

that remained scantily fertilized due to low pollen count

in the air) and so no recruitment. The young saplings

grew to two metres, then five, then eight and they finally

began producing cones, but seeds were still few. Caicos

pinecones can hold over 80 seeds and trees can produce

dozens of cones, but production was down to single

digits of seed per tree annually and not all were viable.

More clusters of pines grew, but there was no indication

that the habitat would be self-sustaining within the near


And then, serendipitously in mid-December, which

happens to be Caicos Pine Awareness Month, a remarkable

manifestation was observed in the pine yard. During

a field trip to one of the burn plots by participants in

the collaborative DECR/Bahamas Forestry Unit’s Plant

Identification Training, something familiar caught Junel

“Flash” Blaise’s eye. Having grown hundreds of Caicos

pine seedlings in the project nursery and having rescued

dozens from unsuitable wild spots over the years, Flash’s

sense for finding tiny, newly germinated pine seedlings is

nothing short of supersensory. Under a pine tree on the

far side of Burn Plot #2, he noticed a lime-green, brushlike

seedling. With just a cursory glance around, Flash

The parent tree of the Caicos Pine seedlings, with many other young

and vigorous of its kind in the background, benefited from the 2012

controlled burn.

counted six more, including a seedling so young it only

had its first four needles. The parent tree above had been

a crippled sapling barely a foot high before the 2012

burn, but had grown into a sturdy, four metre tree with

the help of the nutritious ash. Near its crown, a cluster of

fat, chestnut-coloured cones yawned, their scales open

having dropped their seeds in October.

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green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

The 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed the

Caicos Pine Recovery Project Nursery and seed collections

for 2019 were put on hold until the nursery could be

rebuilt. But here the Caicos pines had taken up the task

themselves for the first time in over a decade.

The seedlings are an unexpected sign of hope: They

signify that trees are healthy enough to produce viable

seed and numerous enough to shed sufficient pollen to

fertilize young cones. While pine tortoise scale insect is

still present in the pine yard, their infestation is greatly

reduced and trees are healthier and more robust than

they have been since the insect arrived in TCI.

As the seedlings grow, their new roots will knit into

the diverse array of soil fungi that help the pine grow and

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 41

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources


draw up the nutritious ash still present in the thin soil

released by the 2012 burn. In time, they will grow taller

and shed their old needles, contributing to the blanket

of fuel for the next burn. If conditions continue to be

favourable, seeds will be produced annually and will help

restore this small patch of pine yard to a density like the

pre-scale insect habitat.

DECR’s own pine seedling expert Junel “Flash” Blaise gleefully points

out one of the newly grown seedlings he noticed in the needle duff.

And while the project team may not be able to see

restored, intact habitat with large mature trees within

their lifetimes, they will continue to watch over the new

seedlings and document their growth—and be excited to

see the first glimpse of the Caicos pine’s unique ecosystem

rising from the ashes. a

To see the National Tree in its natural habitat and witness

the habitat recovery, visit the Caicos Pine Yard

Trail: National Tree Ramble on Middle Caicos (on King

Road, one mile past Conch Bar Caves National Park gate).

The fully-interpreted trail is under half a mile over level

ground and is free to visit sunrise to sunset. It is part

of the 660-acre Caicos Pine Core Conservation Area for

Middle Caicos and protected within the North, Middle and

East Caicos Wetlands Nature Reserve (a Ramsar Wetlands

Convention Site).

Naming Names:

Collaborative Plant Identification Training

Story & Photos By B Naqqi Manco,

DECR Terrestrial Ecologist

The Department of Environment & Coastal Resources

conducted the Turks & Caicos Islands and Southern

Bahamas Plant Identification Training 2019, a

techniques and tools-based approach to learning

methodology for identification of native plants. The

workshop, held from December 16–20, 2019, was the

second in a series of internationally collaborative trainings

between DECR and The Bahamas Forestry Unit.

The first was conducted in New Providence in April

2017 by DECR Terrestrial Ecologist B Naqqi Manco, who

also taught the 2019 event. It focused on species of

interest to The Bahamas Forestry Unit, mainly woody

species associated with their pine forests. As The

Bahamas Forestry Unit’s Seed Collection Project began

bringing them deeper into the southern Bahamas and

into habitats with which they had less familiarity, they

saw a need to utilize DECR’s botanical expertise in the

dry southern islands of the Lucayan Archipelago.

Two participants from The Bahamas Forestry Unit,

Amano Williams and Andrew Curry, learned alongside

participants from DECR and the Turks & Caicos

National Trust. B Naqqi Manco explains, “The training

isn’t meant to be a rote memorization of species in

the field, but rather was approached through recognizing

anatomical features, understanding the related

terminology and using those characteristics to find

the identifications in the texts. Some of the terminology

can be intimidating — for example what does it

mean when a leaf has ‘a retuse apex, crenulate margin,

and oblique base with a subchartaceous texture and

is highly discolored?’ All of these terms relate to features

important in the identification of plants to family,

genus and species.”

Along with teaching plant anatomy, terminology

and descriptions of features, the training also focused

on taxonomic classification, botanical names and the

use of keys in flora texts for identification of plant

species. The course featured a strong field element,

with the first day being a trip to Little Water Cay with

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green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

Clockwise from top left: Participants learn the sense of smell can

be an important identification tool as they inhale the strongly fragrant

scent of nakedwood Myrcianthes fragrans leaves at Wade’s

Green Plantation on North Caicos.

Correll & Correll’s Flora of the Bahama Archipelago is the essential

text for plant identification in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

In Wild Cow Run, Middle Caicos, participants observe the features

of the TCI endemic Britton’s buttonbush Spermacoce brittonii that

identify it as a member of the coffee family.

a practical outcome: annual post-Hurricane Irma plant

monitoring. Several species new to Little Water Cay were

documented during the field training, including eyebright

sedge Scleria lithosperma and tall Encyclia orchid

Encyclia altissima. The second day of the course was

a classroom day with explanations of anatomy, terminology

and texts, and targeted activities including a

dichotomous key exercise. All participants received a

workbook that included compendia of anatomical terminology

and common characteristics.

The third and fourth day took place in Middle and

North Caicos, practicing plant identification in-situ with

use of tools learned on the second day. Participants

visited habitats unique to the archipelago including

dune chapparal and coastal coppice, salina, limestone

thicket, dry tropical forest, ephemeral freshwater wetlands,

rocky ridges and wild-oak bottom.

The final day included a classroom review, examination

and presentation of certificates. Everyone who

sat the exam received a 100% score. Bahamas Forestry

Unit participant Amano Williams shared, “It was a blast,

I learned a lot and it was a great refresher. The instructor

took his time and broke down the terminology. It

was interesting because we’ve been exposed to new

and different species of plants. We hope to continue

building a stronger relation with more training and

projects in the future.” DECR hopes to expand this

training programme by making it more frequent and

adding more advanced subject matter. a

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 43



Opposite page: Slavery on the Caicos Islands was all about cotton, this beautiful and profitable plant that still grows wild across the Turks

& Caicos Islands. Above: Although this image depicts an amphibious assault by Colonial forces against the British port of Nassau, Bahamas

during the American Revolutionary War, it could easily mirror the arrival of the first British Loyalists on the shores of North and Middle Caicos

and Providenciales following the American Revolution in the late 1700s.

When the first British Loyalists arrived on the shores of North and Middle Caicos and Providenciales following

the American Revolution in the late 1700s, they took with them enslaved people and a mindset

of entitlement and power that mirrored the mores and hierarchy of the American South. The confiscation

of home and plantations by the victorious American Patriots followed by forced exile apparently kindled

no reflection or reconsideration of the practice of slavery as the Loyalists tried to recreate a lifestyle of

privilege in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Largely left out is the perspective of the people who made possible that lifestyle, as if they were muted

shadows on the wall instead of vibrant actors in their own right. What of the pain and exploitation they

endured? What cracks in the system did they manipulate? And what of their courage under fire that, for

a brief afternoon, put the enslaver and enslaved shoulder to shoulder as equals? Though slavery’s paradox

was plain to see, Loyalists never mustered their own courage to change, even in a defining moment,

holding on to their ways to the end.

Hidden Legacy

Slavery and the Loyalists in “Grand Caicos.”

By Ben Stubenberg

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 45

Exile and second chances

The story of Loyalist settlers to the Turks & Caicos Islands

is well documented. At the conclusion of the American

Revolution, the Patriots bitterly resented those who had

fought for King George III and often tarred and feathered

them (a common mob form of punishment at the time).

Forced off their property (which enriched the victors who

took over), many of the Loyalists in Georgia fled to nearby

St. Augustine in East Florida which had been returned to

Spanish rule.

The Spanish offered to let the Loyalists stay if they

swore allegiance to Spain and converted to Catholicism.

But the Protestant Loyalists (also referred to as Tories, the

political party reflecting their views) refused to convert

and opted to take a chance on a new life in the Bahamas,

which at that time included Turks & Caicos. (See Times of

the Islands Fall 2010, “All the King’s Men” by Dr. Charlene

Kozy.) Other Loyalists fled to the port city of Savannah

and waited in squalid conditions for British ships that

could take them to the Bahamas as well, or other parts of

the British Empire for resettlement.

During this time in limbo, the British government

compensated Loyalists for some or all of the losses suffered

in the now former British colonies with cash and

land grants that enabled them to begin anew. The compensation,

as well as things of value to bring out, allowed

Loyalists to purchase machinery, agricultural implements,

and more slaves, giving them a big advantage in starting

over with new plantations and a second life.

The first stop for many Loyalists was Nassau or

nearby Cat Island, Eleuthera and Abaco. Their presence

immediately caused friction with the long-term white residents

who were mostly poor, illiterate and resentful of

well-to-do refugees who looked down on them. Loyalists

with the means set out for the more fertile and uninhabited

islands of “Grand Caicos,” what we know today as

North and Middle Caicos and Parrot Cay. They were really

the third wave of slaveholders in TCI, the first being the

Spanish enslavers who removed the original Taino and

Lucayan Indians in the late 1400s and early 1500s that,

along with disease and killings, completely depopulated

all of TCI. The Bermudians followed in the late 1600s,

bringing hundreds of slaves to Grand Turk, Salt Cay and

South Caicos to work the salt ponds.

Before setting foot in TCI, the Loyalists knew the

location and acreage of their new plantations in Grand

Caicos. And they knew how much forced labor and tools

they would need to cut and clear the thick brush for planting

of sea cotton, which had already proven to be a viable

crop on the other Bahamian islands. The Loyalist planters

that arrived in Grand Caicos knew one another and kept

in contact with other Loyalist families that had settled

elsewhere in the Bahamas and other British Caribbean

islands. That connection based on common values and

shared experience in exile gave them a measure of social

and political power.

Records tell of Loyalist marriages and offspring, their

business dealings and their political ambitions to enhance

their status in their new island home. We even know the

inventory of luxury goods they loaded onto ships, such

as fine mahogany furniture, china, silverware and linen

sheets. Libraries, musical instruments, spy glasses and

silver dueling pistols rounded out the households of the

stone and wood houses the slaves would build for them.

In fact, some Loyalists modeled their new abodes after

houses where they had lived in Georgia.

There are no records of what they thought when they

squinted out at the hot, low-lying islands of Grand Caicos

covered with thick brush and rocks with few sources of

fresh water. But surely their hearts must have sunk at the

realization that even with slaves, machinery and a few

luxuries, life would probably never reach the level they

enjoyed in the American South.

No let-up for the enslaved

The enslaved, of course, arrived here with nothing except

a strong culture of resilience and adaptation. From the

Loyalist perspective, they existed solely to be exploited

for commercial gain. From the enslaved perspective, life

centered on how to work the system, resist and retain a

measure of dignity in the face of daily oppression. While

Loyalists were able to bring some slaves from Georgia,

the Carolinas and East Florida, they bought new ones at

slave markets in Nassau and Cuba before the final leg

of the journey to Grand Caicos. Thus, new arrivals from

Africa mixed in with an existing culture of people who had

known nothing but slavery.

We can only imagine the great despair and bewilderment

slaves must have felt when they emerged from the

holds of the same sailing ships as the Loyalists. They, too,

shielded their eyes while peering into the bright sunlight

and saw before them the desolate, faraway island, searingly

conscious of their status and grim prospects. The

new home held no promise of a better life, only forced

backbreaking work until death.

As in the American South and throughout the West

Indies, the Loyalists recorded slaves as numbers. How

46 www.timespub.tc

Before setting foot in TCI, the Loyalists knew the location and acreage

of their new plantations in Grand Caicos. And they knew how

much forced labor and tools they would need to cut and clear the

thick brush for planting of sea cotton, which had already proven to

be a viable crop on the other Bahamian islands.


Times of the Islands Spring 2020 47

many belonged to whom and the purchases, sales and

transfers, along with first names. While a slave’s position

or health condition might be listed, this was the exception.

A sales document dated 20th August 1792 marking

the transfer of slaves between plantation owners Wade

Stubbs and Annis Stubbs provides an example. The document

shows that Annis Stubbs paid “five hundred pounds

sterling” to own 12 people. The document records their

names as George, Phabe, Jeny, Venus, Rachel, Charlott,

Lucy, Jim, York, Nancy, Cathy and Darky and stipulates

“with all their future and increase of their bodies.” The

quoted words make starkly clear the expected continuity

of property through propagation and leaves no doubt

about their belief in the perpetuation of the institution

of slavery. It also lays bare the pure commercial transactional

nature of the practice.

The Bermudian slave holders on Grand Turk, Salt Cay

and South Caicos similarly tracked slaves they used to

produce salt. And both groups counted the slaves who

escaped, as these were serious monetary losses to be

accounted for. In short, the lives of those held bondage

were reduced to bookkeeping.

For slavery to succeed, though, slaveholders had to

maintain constant control through absolute power using

violence or the threat of violence. We are well aware of the

brutality Bermudian slaveholders meted out to slaves who

worked the salt ponds on Grand Turk through the raw

and riveting firsthand account of slavery by Mary Prince.

As recorded and published by abolitionists in London in

the 1830s, Mary tells of the grueling labor and torture

she experienced and witnessed as a slave working the salt


Then we had no sleep—no rest—but were forced to

work as fast as we could, and go on again all next

day the same as usual. Work—work—work—Oh

that Turks Island was a horrible place! The people

of England, I am sure, have never found out what is

carried out there. Cruel, horrible place!

If we could not keep up with the rest of the gang of

slaves, we were put in the stocks, and severely flogged

the next morning.

Mr. D—has often stripped me naked, hung me up by

the wrists, and beat me with the cow-skin, with his

own hand, till my body was raw with gashes.

No such detailed account exists for the enslaved on

the cotton plantations of North and Middle Caicos, Parrot

Cay and Providenciales, though life was likely as harsh.

Indeed, the Loyalist slaveholders would have every reason

to omit accounts of violence inflicted on the enslaved in

Grand Caicos. Great Britain had banned the slave trade

in 1807 (not slavery itself) and put in place various laws

to regulate slavery in the West Indies and elsewhere. So,

at least on paper, the laws forbade some egregious practices

and required some care for sick and elderly slaves.

However, in the isolation of Grand Caicos, or even in the

more trafficked Grand Turk, these laws could be safely

ignored as long as everyone kept quiet.

Despite the paucity of written accounts of slave

treatment in Grand Caicos, we can still glean a picture of

slavery on these islands through the records kept, oral

history passed down and witness accounts of the brutality

of slavery in the region. These are largely in sync

with what Mary Prince had revealed through her abolitionist

supporters. For the Loyalist enslavers, the culture

of exploitation in the American South closely paralleled

the one here and, thus, can serve as a historical portal

into the conditions and relationships that likely existed

between slaves and Loyalists.

Exerting control

Presbyterian minister and abolitionist John Rankin’s 1826

Letters on Slavery compellingly describes common slave

treatment at the time that parallel accounts throughout

the West Indies. Control meant keeping slaves hungry and

desperate for food, which could easily be cut off. From

there, as Rankin’s Letters makes clear, slaves faced painful

floggings for not working hard enough, for stealing

food or for no reason at all. Ratcheting up, slaveholders at

times applied more severe forms of torment, including dismemberment,

mutilation and burning to punish and send

a message to others. Notably, Rankin’s Letters recount

the pouring of red pepper or turpentine into wounds and

gashes, not unlike what Mary Prince saw when Bermudian

slaveholders poured salt into the wounds of the enslaved

on Grand Turk. While administering these tortures, slaveholders

would actually read Biblical scripture that in their

interpretation justified and rationalized their actions.

Perhaps the most vivid account of this harsh reality

of slavery is the book 12 Years a Slave by Solomon

Northrup, published in 1853. Made into a major motion

picture in 2013, it won Oscars for Best Picture, Best

Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. The

book and the movie detail Mr. Northrup’s experience of

going from a free man in New York to being kidnapped

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The painting “Am Not I A Man and a Brother” dates to around 1800 and features a dominant motif detailing the

agonizing and insufferable treatment of slaves on a Caribbean sugar plantation during the Transatlantic Slave

Trade. Based on a design commissioned by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade on July 5, 1787,

the painting is considered to be one of the first instances of a logo designed for a political cause. It was famously

used by the potter Josiah Wedgwood for his persuasive anti-slavery ceramic medallions and went on to become

the dominant image of abolition campaigning in the 18th and 19th centuries.


and forced to work as a slave on a cotton plantation in

Louisiana. After friends secured his release that enabled

him to return to New York, he worked with abolitionist

groups to highlight the conditions he and other slaves

were subjected to. The book and the movie graphically

describe the horrific treatment at the hands of a slave

owner, including sexual exploitation.

It is fair to assume that Loyalist slaveholders, as a

matter of course, continued to carry out such violence on

Grand Caicos slaves, even if application varied. It could be

argued that treatment of slaves on Grand Caicos may not

have been as severe as on Grand Turk because slaveholders

on Grand Caicos would have more incentive to manage

them better in view of the difficulty of acquiring new slaves

due to isolation. But beating slaves was such a regular part

of slave life that it’s hard to believe the Loyalists would

somehow become more amenable with changed circumstances,

and there is little to suggest otherwise.

While violence was the main tool for controlling

enslaved people and extracting as much work as possible,

slaveholders also had to deal with the prospect of a slave

revolt. Indeed, slave rebellions had taken place in the

American South and West Indies throughout the 1700s

and early 1800s, culminating in the successful rebellion

in Haiti in November 1803 that led to the establishment

of the first black republic of former slaves. Loyalists were

keenly well aware of these uprisings, especially the revolt

in Haiti in view of its proximity to TCI—just 100 miles/160

km away. Ships sailing between northern Haiti and TCI

greatly facilitated a flow of information to slaveholders

and slaves alike about the struggle taking place in Haiti

over the course of more than a decade.

In order to mitigate the chances of an uprising and

the risk of revenge, slaveholders often took measures to

create divisions among slaves. One way was to acquire

slaves from different parts of Africa who could not understand

each other or mix them in with slaves who had been

in bondage for many generations. The Loyalist purchase

of slaves at markets in Nassau and Cuba to augment the

slaves they had brought from the American South may

well have had the effect of creating such divisions, though

we don’t know if it was a deliberate strategy.

A second way to split slave groups was to create hierarchies

of slaves with special privileges. We know that

some of the slaves brought by Loyalists had specialized

skills such as carpentry and blacksmithing, thus indicating

the strong possibility of “favored” slaves with more

status that could cause resentment and sow disharmony

to discourage unified action.

In fact, no outright slave revolts took place in TCI.

However, many slaves successfully escaped, mainly by

taking boats from the beaches at night and sailing south

to Haiti, a country that welcomed them as free people.

(See Times of the Islands Fall 2018, “Sailing to Freedom”

by this author.) Between 1822 and 1825, 128 slaves in

the Turks & Caicos escaped, many of them from the Wade

Stubbs plantation on North Caicos. We have no testimony

on why they or any slaves from TCI escaped, though abusive

treatment would seem to be the likely motivation to

get away—bad enough to cause them forsake family and


Exploitation and sentiment

One of the most debasing aspects of slavery was sexual

exploitation of slave women by slaveholders that also

involved violence or the threat of violence. While some

slaves may have been accommodating to avoid repercussions,

all were in some way coerced or forced.

Stories of such abuse abounded. Mary Prince herself

was almost certainly subjected to sexual exploitation by

the slaveholder she refers to as “Mr. D” on Grand Turk.

Some abolitionists, including those who supported Mary

Prince, may have purposefully glossed over the more heinous

and salacious accounts, as they felt it would distract

from the larger objective of banning slavery. Of course, the

awareness could not be hidden for long since the exploitation

resulted in numerous births of mulatto children.

A British-mandated census in 1834 in TCI classified

180 individuals (13.08% of the slave population)

as “Mulattos,” which was defined as persons with both

African and European bloodlines. Of these, according to

TCI historian Nigel Sadler in his book Slave History of the

Turks & Caicos Islands, 112 persons were under 20 years

of age. It is not known if all of the mulattos were the

offspring of slaveholders and slaves—some could have

been the result of liaisons between white indentured servants

or other white non-slaveholders and either slaves

or ex-slaves. However, the high number of children and

teens of mixed race, the close proximity of slaves to slaveholders

in all the Islands and the long history of forced

or coercive sexual relations by slaveholders strongly indicates

that most, though maybe not all, mulatto offspring

at that time were the result of slaveholder exploitation of

female slaves.

These abhorrent violations could take strange turns.

In the 1760s and 1770s, a Jamaican slaveholder named

Thomas Thistlewood kept a detailed diary of his relations

with slaves. He even documented his own brutality

50 www.timespub.tc


against slaves, which historian Trevor Burnard called

“sociopathic,” a term which could perhaps be applied to

most slaveholders, including many on Grand Caicos.

In a twisted but not uncommon way, Thistlewood

also developed an affection for a few of the slave women.

One woman in particular named Phibbah, with whom he

had a son, apparently used his emotional connection to

her (perhaps dependency mixed with jealousy) to turn

the tables and gain favors to survive in an otherwise

oppressive society. Phibbah even felt free to quarrel with

Thistlewood and refuse to sleep with him without fear of


This brings us to the intriguing relationship between

Dr. John Lorimer and his slave Rose on his Haulover

Estate in Middle Caicos. Lorimer’s will, written in 1807,

has been recorded as stating that on his death he would

free all of his slaves. In fact, according to Mr. Sadler,

the will was mistakenly recorded because Lorimer freed

only one slave, referred to as his “faithful Negro woman

slave Rose.” Rose first appears as “Rosana, property of

John Lorimer Esq. born April 16th, 1795” and baptized in

March 1800 in Grand Turk when Lorimer was there acting

as the King’s Agent. Apparently, Rose is the only one of

his slaves to be baptized, which raises the question of,

“Why her?”

The details of Lorimer’s will provide some context:

“I wish my body to be carried to the grave by six of my

Negroes (if I have any) dressed in white. For long service

rendered me by the Negro woman Rose, I leave her free

. . . [and] leave Rose any two of my young Negroes born

and raised in the Caicos and Turks Islands, which she may

choose.” Rose is later mentioned in an 1822 slave register

as, “Rose Lorimer, free black woman” who owns two

slaves, “Joe, male 30, Black. Turks Islands and Hannah,

female, 30, Black. Turks Islands.”

So it appears that Rose is free and has two slaves of

her own, a rare gift for a former slave, which suggests a

special relationship with Lorimer of some kind. It is telling

that Rose is already referred to in Lorimer’s 1807 will as

“faithful Negro woman,” and on track to be freed even

though at the time she was only 12 years old (if she was in

fact born in 1795 per the Grand Turk records). While not

definitive, the shards of evidence seem to indicate that

Rose is his daughter, prompting, of course, the second

question about his relationship with Rose’s mother, most

likely a slave under his control.

By singling out Rose in granting her freedom and

slaves, Lorimer ensured she would have far greater independence

and a higher level of comfort in life. One can try

to portray this act of kindness as a slaveholder’s “softer”

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 51

side. However, Lorimer still felt compelled to use and perpetuate

the institution of slavery to express his apparent

affection for Rose (or guilt) and to ensure she had a better

life. Though it is possible Rose’s two slaves were enslaved

in name only, and maybe even relatives of Rose, Lorimer

failed to take that additional step of freeing all slaves. In

that sense, Lorimer was not much different from other

slaveholders in the American South or Caribbean who

gifted slaves to their wives and daughters for the same


Indeed, the ownership of slaves by women was not

unusual in the late 1700s and early 1800s. As many as

40% of enslavers may have been women in the United

States, as slaves represented one of the few ways in which

women could be independently well-off, if not wealthy.

Ironically, by possessing slaves, these women gained a

measure of personal freedom otherwise denied to them

in an era when society accorded them few rights, as was

even more so in the case with Rose.

While maltreatment of the enslaved is usually associated

with men, historical records show that women

were just as cruel whether or not they actually owned the

slaves. In fact women, like men, in slaveholding families

were socialized from an early age to treat slaves badly.

The brutality was at its most pernicious when wives of

slaveholders physically lashed out at slave women whom

their husbands had impregnated. The wives often blamed

the slave women rather than their husbands responsible

for the transgression. 12 Years a Slave highlighted this.

Astoundingly, these atrocities were confirmed through

eye-witness accounts compiled as late as the 1930s from

men and women still alive who had been slaves before

American emancipation in 1865.

In less common cases, women took advantage of

male slaves under their control in the American South

and the West Indies, perhaps out of loneliness, perhaps

out of defiance, or perhaps because they could. Local historian

and naturalist B Naqqi Manco recalls a story about

a slave-owning widow on North Caicos who had relations

with a slave named Fred. Little else is known about the

story, and it is hard to confirm, but the incident would not

have been completely out of character for a slave-owning

woman at the time in North Caicos or anywhere else.

Confrontation and loyalty

As slaveholders in the American South and the West

Indies came under increasing scrutiny and exposure by

abolitionist groups, slaveholders attempted to counter

the narrative that slavery was evil. They mounted what

was in effect a public relations campaign by portraying

themselves as benevolent masters who treated “their”

slaves well. They argued that slaves were, in fact, better

off with the food and shelter they provided and cited incidents

of slave “loyalty” as evidence of acceptance of their

condition. Many people bought into the notion that slavery

“wasn’t that bad,” a story line that could be considered

the “fake news” of the time.

Just how did this notion of slave loyalty play out with

the Loyalists of Grand Caicos? As it happens, a pirate

attack off West Caicos brought enslaved and enslavers

together in a fight for survival that tested assumptions

about slavery for at least one prominent Loyalist planter,

Colonel Thomas Brown. Originally from Yorkshire,

England, Thomas made his way to the American colonies

where he started plantations in the American South and

acquired slaves just as the Revolutionary War broke out.

After professing loyalty to King George III and refusing

to sign a letter swearing allegiance to the Revolution at

a “Sons of Liberty” meeting, the Patriots brutally attacked

and tarred and feathered him.

Angry and spoiling for revenge, Brown joined the

Loyalist unit “The King’s Rangers” and fought against the

Patriots, rising to the rank of colonel. Legend has it that

his bitterness was so great that he hanged 13 Patriots just

so he could gloat over their suffering.

When the Patriots wrested control of the American

colonies from Great Britain, he along with the other

Loyalists made their way to North Caicos to start over. In

the course of developing a plantation, he, like Lorimer,

earned a reputation for treating slaves well. If a slave

from one plantation wanted to marry a slave from another

plantation, he would buy the slave in order to keep the

family together. Supposedly, he had also freed favorites

among the enslaved even before coming to North Caicos.

Therefore, if any slaveholder could have empathy and

understanding and see the enslaved as human, not chattel,

it would seem to be Brown.

When a ship from Rhode Island laden with badly

needed supplies and provisions for Loyalist planters

wrecked on the reef off West Caicos, Brown, other planters

and several slaves set off for the stricken ship. Sailing

in five sloops, they found the ship intact and successfully

salvaged the valuable cargo. As they were about to return,

French pirates/privateers attacked them. A pitched battle

ensued as the French attempted to drive the slaves and

Loyalists against the reef and take their sloops and cargo.

Brown sailed the largest boat that was mounted with

two small cannons. Also on board was a crew of slaves

52 www.timespub.tc

armed with muskets. Together, they managed to drive

off the French three different times. After three hours of

fighting, a cannon from a more heavily armed French ship

sank Brown’s sloop, forcing him and the crew to swim to

shore on West Caicos where they awaited rescue. Two

of the slaves had been wounded in the fight, though not

mortally. The French captured the remaining boats with

the cargo and sailed away.

The Bahama Gazette carried a story of the fight in the

August 21, 1798 edition, including Brown’s praise for his

men. In a letter to his father in England, Brown wrote, “I

was so proud of my men, did not mind the loss of goods.”

This was not the first action Brown took that involved

arming slaves to protect Loyalist planter interests. Brown,

using his own money and probably with assistance from

other planters, had already built two forts to protect Saint

George Harbour (now known as Fort George Cay between

Pine Cay and Dellis Cay).

According to Edward J. Cashin in The King’s Ranger,

“He (Brown) armed and drilled his black labor force” to

man the fort. Clearly, Brown developed a great deal of

confidence in people he had enslaved to actually arm

them at a time when the Haitian slave rebellion was in

full swing, and slaveholders were fearful the revolt might

spread. Indeed, Brown’s initiatives were exceptional in a

time when most slaveholders believed that slaves could

not be trusted, much less with weapons.

While Brown praised his men, implying loyalty to him

in the fight against the French pirates, the slaves could

just as well have been fighting for their own survival, not

fealty to their slaveholder. And while the arming of slaves

for island defense against raiders may well have been

forward leaning and progressive for the era, could that

loyalty have lasted long on such an isolated post if the

slave soldiers remained slaves? I can think of no instance

where slaves fought willingly for slave masters without

at least the promise of freedom, which Brown apparently

never gave.

When Brown departed North Caicos in 1802 and

resettled in St. Vincent a few years later to start another

plantation, he reportedly took with him 643 slaves and

15 white overseers who had been working his plantations

there. In fact, Brown had so many slaves that it

took almost two years to transfer all of them. It should

be noted that there is no record of slaves escaping from

Brown’s plantation. That might suggest that they didn’t

want to because they were content. But, such a perspective

would require an assumption that Brown (and all of

his 15 overseers) treated his slaves so vastly differently

from other plantations that all of them preferred bondage

to freedom, or at least questioned taking the risk of sailing

to freedom.

Notwithstanding Brown’s experience and his admiration

for the enslaved under his control, he apparently felt

no compunction or inclination to let them go. Perhaps in

arrogance he believed that bondage was better (except

for one or two favored ones). Or perhaps he calculated

that without hundreds of slaves working for him, he could

not maintain his lifestyle and status, and thus could not

do without them. In any case, Brown, like other ostensibly

enlightened enslavers who were well aware of slavery’s

bitter controversy, rationalized the status quo, unable to

rise to the occasion.

Legacy and today

In the end, the Loyalist plantations lasted less than

thirty years before hurricanes, soil depletion and disease

destroyed much of the sea cotton crop. While some

Loyalists turned to planting sisal then used for making

rope, the brief heyday of the plantation life on Grand

Caicos declined sharply. Most of the Loyalists lost their

second fortune here and left for England, or in some

cases went back to the American South where resentment

against Loyalists had dissipated.

The Loyalists sold off some of the enslaved to recoup

losses before departing, but left behind others. As the

rigid, oppressive life of slavery began to unravel, the now

former enslaved took control. Already hardy survivors,

they were quite prepared to adapt, fend for themselves

and make the land and sea serve them. They formed

communities and depended on each other, a culture and

spirit of reliance that continues to this day. This is quite a

tribute for people whose ancestors came to these islands

under the most excruciating circumstances and prevailed.


Ben Stubenberg (ben@caicunaniki.com) is a contributing

writer to Times of the Islands with a passion for TCI history.

He is also co-founder of the TCI adventure company

Caicu Naniki and the annual Turks & Caicos “Race for the

Conch” Eco-SeaSwim.

Special thanks to Nigel Sadler, Historian and founder of

Sands of Times Consultancy, Dr. Charlene Kozy, Historian,

and B Naqqi Manco, Naturalist and Historian, for their

valuable contributions. The personal perspectives are

entirely the author’s.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 53


Opposite page and above: The SNAP Centre is the only government-funded special needs facility in Providenciales. It provides intellectual

and life skills training for children and young adults ages 4 to 24 years old who have challenges such as autism, learning disabilities and

developmental delays. A second facility is expected to open on Grand Turk this year.

Inclusion Matters

Advances in the education of children with special needs in the TCI.

Many positive things are happening for children with special needs in the Turks & Caicos Islands as the

result of a partnership between the TCI Government, a nonprofit organization of American and Canadian

volunteers and a private business foundation in Providenciales. Children with challenges such as autism,

learning disabilities and developmental delays “need special care and attention at a very young age” in

order to reach their full potential, said the Honourable Edwin Astwood, Minister of Health, Agriculture,

Sport and Human Services.

By Norah Machia ~ Photos by Anthony Machia

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 55

The TCI Government currently funds the Special

Needs Association of Providenciales (SNAP) Centre, a special

education facility with 13 students operated under

the Ministry of Health. The centre provides both intellectual

and life skills training for children and young adults

ages 4 to 24 years old, and typically has a waiting list

for new students. “We have just the one centre now, but

there are many other children in need of assistance,” said

Minister Astwood. More families are coming forward for

help as the government has been working on educating

people about tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of people

with disabilities.

This year, the TCI Government is planning to open a

second special education facility on Grand Turk, according

to Minister Astwood. Officials have been looking at

several options to determine if it would be more cost

effective to renovate existing space or build a new structure.

A total of six children would be enrolled in the new

centre during its first phase, with the possibility of future


Opening the second centre in Grand Turk will help

families on both the western and eastern portions of

the Turks & Caicos Islands. In the past, some families

with special needs children have faced tough decisions

about changing jobs and moving closer to the centre in


There are plans to expand classroom space and hire

additional special needs teachers for the SNAP Centre

as well, with a combination of government and private

funding. The TCI Government has been working diligently

to recruit additional special needs teachers. Competitive

salaries and benefits are being offered, but the recruitment

process has still been a challenge, Minister Astwood


Depending on their condition, children with special

needs require different types of services, and things that

come easily to other children are often greater challenges

to them. But teachers at the SNAP Centre marvel at the

tenacity of their students, and recognize they possess a

remarkable resilience and strong determination to learn.

The special education teachers at the SNAP Centre

have created a positive learning environment, offering

both small group and individualized attention. They present

educational material in a variety of ways to meet the

learning styles of each student, while working with all

the children and young adults to reach their highest level

possible of independence.

“The attitudes regarding people with disabilities have

been changing,” Minister Astwood noted. “In the past,

you may have never known about a child with a special

need unless it was someone in your own family. Now

there is more public awareness, and more acceptance.”

The Turks & Caicos Islands Government has been

working with the 1 World Foundation for several years to

help conduct assessments and develop treatment plans

for special needs children. The nonprofit organization

sends volunteer health care professionals from the United

States and Canada to meet with children and their parents

at the SNAP Centre, and at clinics and hospitals throughout

the Islands.

Since 1994, the 1 World Foundation has coordinated

occupational therapy, speech pathology, audiology and

clinical psychology assessments for children in TCI, said

Howard Ganter, foundation president, New York State.

These volunteers have worked with both the Ministry

of Health and the Ministry of Education in sharing their

experience and offering additional training.

The 1 World Foundation volunteers worked with the

Ministry of Health’s Special Needs Unit to develop a registry

of children needing services, which totals nearly

200 children to date. The nonprofit organization has

also shipped adaptive equipment and program supplies

to the Islands and their work has been supported by

SNAP Centre student Steve gives a thumbs-up after completing a writing

assignment in his small group classroom. His twin brother Steven

is the fellow peeking over the composition book on the previous page.

56 www.timespub.tc

Above: Hon. Edwin Astwood, TCI Minister of Health, meets with

Joseph Rich of the 1 World Foundation. The nonprofit organization

sends volunteer health professionals from North America to meet

with special needs children and their parents in TCI.

Bottom right: Neuropsychologist Dr. Jeanne Ryan has traveled to TCI

from New York State for six years to provide assessments and create

individualized treatment plans for many special needs children.

Rotary Clubs in New York State, Ontario, Canada, and


For six years, Dr. Jeanne Ryan, a neuropsychologist,

and her husband, G. Terrence Ryan, a licensed mental

health counselor from New York State, have traveled to

TCI to provide assessments and create individualized

treatment plans for many special needs children, including

those with autism.

Autism is often referred to as a “spectrum disorder”

because it covers a broad range of conditions and

is typically characterized by challenges with social skills,

repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication,

according to the Autism Speaks organization. Each

child with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges

in the way they think, learn and solve problems,

and their conditions range from severely-challenged to


The Ryans said they’ve seen more acceptance among

families of children with special needs in TCI, although

some stigma still exists. “The acceptance by parents is

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 57

From top: Special Needs Teacher Paulette Simmons encourages young SNAP Centre student


It’s a “high five” for a job well done by SNAP Centre student Sabrina from Special Needs

Teacher Keishe-ann Shaw.

becoming much better, and we are

getting more referrals,” Dr. Ryan said.

“Although there are still parents who

prefer to keep their children at home,

because they have concerns about

what others might think of them,”

she added. “But we certainly have

seen improvement firsthand. I recall

one parent who just a few years ago

did not want to take her special needs

child out in public, but that slowly

started to change, and she began by

taking her child on trips to the grocery


In recent years, the Ministry of

Health, along with volunteers from

the 1 World Foundation, has sought

input from parents with special

needs children through a series of

public meetings for residents of

Providenciales, Grand Turk, Middle,

South and North Caicos.

In 2018, the Ministry of Education

adopted a Special Education Policy

that has resulted in additional services

for special needs children,

along with an enhanced referral and

intervention system, and professional

development opportunities for

staff and administrators. “The Turks

& Caicos Islands Government has

appreciated the long-term commitment

of the 1 World Foundation in

helping us to ‘fill the gaps’ in creating

services for people with disabilities,”

said Minister Astwood. “They know

what the system should look like and

have helped guide us in developing

our own system. We’re looking forward

to future collaborations on all

projects assisting families with special

needs children.”

One project being proposed by

the nonprofit organization is a new

public awareness campaign, said

Joseph Rich, a founder of the 1 World

Foundation from New York State.

Mr. Rich recently met with Minister

Astwood in TCI to propose a media

58 www.timespub.tc

campaign that would continue spreading the message

of acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities

throughout the Islands. “People with disabilities have

many of the same dreams as others, including being part

of their communities, receiving special services, being

respected and even having a job,” said Mr. Rich. The proposed

campaign would emphasize the message that “all

people are important, all people are valued, all people

contribute to the community and this includes people

with disabilities,” he added.

The staff at the SNAP Centre has been working to

spread that message by taking their students on field

trips throughout the Islands. Participation in the community

has helped the special needs children build

self-confidence and independence, and they have often

surprised people with their accomplishments, said Betty-

Ann Been, Director of the Special Needs Unit, Ministry

of Health. “Our motto is inclusion matters. We focus on

independence, early intervention, development of life

skills and potential employment opportunities.”

The staff encourage parents to accompany them on

field trips, because it gives them the opportunity to see

how well their children can handle themselves in public,

Ms. Been said. Bringing children to different locations

throughout the Islands also helps people to start thinking

differently about those with disabilities and what they can

accomplish with their lives.

The centre has been successful in having some children

transition into the regular school system a couple

of days a week with additional teacher support. Officials

with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education

have a strong working relationship and share information

that is critical to identify, diagnose and help children with

special needs, said Ms. Been.

Some young adults who have completed their education

and life skills training at the SNAP Centre program

have found employment, including in the child care and

landscaping fields. That effort was helped by the centre’s

on-site gardening program, where children have been

learning how to grow and market produce.

The success of that program can be attributed in large

part to the Seven Stars Community Foundation, which

“adopted” the SNAP Centre as its main cause, providing

continual support for the teachers and students “that has

been critical to our operation,” said Ms. Been.

The Community Foundation was started six years ago

and considers the SNAP Centre as its main area of focus

on Providenciales, said Paul Jobling, Seven Stars Resort,

Grace Bay. “The foundation has raised over $150,000 to

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Times of the Islands Spring 2020 59

help the centre.”

Their support has included transportation for the

children and the provision of 10 personal computers and

additional iPads to assist children with classroom learning.

The Seven Stars Community Foundation also donated

a large screen television connected to the internet to

enable remote specialized teaching from North America.

Additional support has included monthly landscaping

services by Seven Stars personnel, the coordination of

regular termite control provided at no cost by Parkway

Solutions, and the updating of the air conditioning systems

by the resort’s maintenance department. The

Community Foundation has also provided the centre with

hurricane-proof doors and completed an interior remodeling

project with updated bathrooms and repainting of

the entire building.

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project management

“Every summer before the re-opening of the school,

our team of engineers ensure that any renovations

needed are completed before the students return,” Mr.

Jobling said. “The Seven Stars Team continues to host

an annual Christmas party for the students, which allows

members of the committee to interact with them through

activities such as decorating cookie and cupcakes.”

When the SNAP Centre suffered considerable damage

after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the Islands in

2017, the employees of Seven Stars completely restored

the building within 30 days so the students could return

to the centre, Mr. Jobling said. “This was a major achievement

given that many of the staff had significant damage

to their own properties and the fact that power was not

fully restored to Providenciales for many months following

the hurricanes,” he noted. “At Seven Stars, we are very

proud of our association with the SNAP Centre and intend

to remain involved for many years to come.” a

For parents with special needs children, there are two

phone numbers to call for more information. The number

for the Ministry of Health’s Special Needs Unit is (649)

338-2171 and the SNAP Centre is (649) 941-3187.

p.o.box 21, providenciales, turks & caicos is.

tel.: 9464440 cell: 2314569 email: redmond@tciway.tc

60 www.timespub.tc

The SNAP Centre garden is sponsored by the Seven Stars Resort Foundation.

Here, students are learning to grow and market produce.

62 www.timespub.tc


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 info@tcmuseum.org • web www.tcmuseum.org

Archaeologists and volunteers excavate in a grid system at the South Bank site on Providenciales.

Giving a Voice to the Past

As an archaeologist, the one question I am continuously asked is, “How do we learn about the people

who lived in the past, especially for people who didn’t have any form of writing?” It is important for

archaeologists to properly record everything they do. When archaeologists begin a project, they don’t just

start digging into the ground. They create a grid system to help record where objects are found. Great

care is taken to record the location and surrounds of each artifact found, while carefully preserving and

recording all finds for future study. It is through this care and study of artifacts found in their context

that allow archaeologists to unravel the past.

In this edition of the Astrolabe, we present two articles that help give a voice to the past. First, we take

a look at the Lucayan Petroglyphs (rock art) on East Caicos. This is followed by an article from resident

Turks & Caicos explorer John Galleymore, who takes us on a journey through East Caicos and his process

for uncovering the past. a

Dr. Michael P. Pateman, Ph.D., Director, Turks & Caicos National Museum

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 63

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum



Clockwise from top left: Petroglyph from Jacksonville Cave. Row of faces. Leif Erickson drawing one of the Petroglyphs. Petroglyphs in cave

at Jacksonville from De Booy 1912.

Cave Art

The Lucayan petroglyphs of East Caicos.

By Dr. Michael P. Pateman

Archaeological studies of the Lucayan Islands (which includes The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands)

have mainly focused on settlement surveys and large scale village excavations. However, early archaeologists

(late 19th and early 20th century) focused most of their efforts on the cave systems of these islands.

This interest in the caves started to fade towards the end of the 20th century.

64 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

However, caves played an important role in Taíno

lifestyle and spiritual beliefs, and as such it is assumed

played an important role in that of the Lucayans.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that caves represent

a significant aspect of the archaeological record of the

Lucayan Islands. These caves exist in two forms, wet

(including blue holes and caves with a direct connection

to the water table) and dry. The caves contain a variety

of artifacts which have not been preserved at open sites

such as human burials, petroglyphs and pictographs,

faunal and botanical remains, and a variety of wooden


Lucayan rock art is found throughout the Lucayan

Islands, specifically Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Inagua,

Long Island, New Providence, Mayaguana, Rum Cay and

San Salvador (in The Bahamas) and East Caicos (in the

Turks & Caicos).

In 1912, Theodore De Booy visited a cave at

Jacksonville and described six petroglyphs, two carved

heads and a possible stone altar. However, after this visit,

this site was lost to science and eventually, the location

was lost to all.

In 2006, on an expedition by a team of scientists

working in collaboration with the TCI National Trust,

the cave was found again but they did not observe the

petroglyphs. It wasn’t until 2008 that explorer Kim

Mortimer saw them. (Details of this were published in

the Spring 2012 edition of the Astrolabe in an article by

Mark Parrish.) More recent research published by Lace

and others in the 2018 Journal of Caribbean Archaeology

describe 13 petroglyphs and included a map of their locations.

As a child growing up I loved to explore, especially the

caves throughout the islands. After arriving in the Turks

& Caicos, the caves at Jacksonville were high on my list of

places to visit and document. However, as East Caicos is

uninhabited today except for donkeys and other wildlife, I

had to find a way to get there and someone who knew the

location of the cave. Finally, in October 2019, a team led

by the Museum and consisting of local TCI explorers John

Galleymore, Agile and Daniel LeVin, Leif Erickson, Mat

Matlock (photographer) and Dr. Shaun Sullivan (archaeologist)

visited East Caicos with the primary mission of

exploring the petroglyph cave at Jacksonville.

Armed with the map created by Lace and others we

set off to find and document the petroglyphs. Privately,

Survey of rock art distribution found in Jacksonville Cave from Lace

et al. 2018.

we were also hoping to find more as the petroglyphs can

sometimes only be seen when light conditions change.

At first, they were very difficult to see, but as our eyes

adjusted to the cave light the faint carvings emerged from

the walls. We started to tick off all of the previous ones

listed by De Booy and Lace. Soon, we had counted over

20 carvings, including a row of 5 faces, a pipe, individuals

with rays and numerous anthropomorphic figures.

All petroglyphs were drawn and photographed. Both

methods were used because due to the nature of the light

in caves, sometimes photographs do not reveal them.

The main question I am asked is “What do the petroglyphs

mean?” This is difficult to answer, as we do not

always know. Some are easy to interpret, as they include

objects of everyday life (canoe paddle or pipe). Others are

more difficult to interpret, including anthropomorphic

figures (animals with human features). Were they created

over a short term by a single individual or over a long term

by multiple individuals? John Winter in 2009 wrote a summary

of petroglyphs from throughout The Bahamas and

noted they are of the Timehri type, an anthropomorphic

design first classified by Williams (1985) and named after

figures found on the Corartijn River in Suriname, part of

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 65

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

the Guianas region in northeast South America. Williams

believes these figures functioned to maintain subsistence

horticulture and have their origin in Amazonia.

The drawing of human-like faces has been suggested

elsewhere in the Caribbean as a part of ancestor worship,

a central part of Taíno religion. Additionally, a number of

the petroglyphs are figures with rays. These may be representations

of Lucayan deities of sun or rain or masked

fertility figures. One of the petroglyphs depicts an anthropomorphic

individual squatting. This can be interpreted

as Atabey the Taíno supreme goddess of fresh water and


Join the Museum

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We have several options for joining:

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in Guinep House on Front Street.

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• 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).

At left: Potential drawing of Atabey (giving birth?) from East Caicos

compared (at right) with drawing of Atabey petroglyph from Puerto


Whether the rock art of East Caicos was part of fertility

rituals, ancestor worship, marking of territories or the

telling of events is uncertain. However, it is clear that cultural

traditions of the larger islands of Cuba, Hispaniola

and Puerto Rico also took place in the Lucayan Islands.

Yet more research is needed. Very little archaeological

research has been conducted on East Caicos. Is there a

large-scale habitation nearby? Can a link be determined

between this cave and any other site?

In De Booy’s 1912 article, he notes that locals

describe other caves on East Caicos with “Indian” carvings.

A side mission of our trip was to try and find these

sites but we didn’t have the time. It gives us another reason

to go back! a

A short documentary about the project is being created

and will be launched during 2020.


66 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

The Layers of History

East Caicos is a treasure trove of relics.

Story & Photos By John Galleymore

When I was very young, I was shown at school a very basic picture depicting “How History Works.” It

showed layers of the Earth with the oldest relics the deepest and those more recent near the surface.

I soon came to discover this is not quite the case! As I progressed through my career in exploration,

it became apparent that you have to keep an open mind, and —even more— open eyes, in order to

discover and hopefully unravel the secrets of the past. Very often, the artifacts from one time in history

will be laying in plain sight alongside those of another.

During the recent TCI National Museum visit to East

Caicos, the primary objective was to rediscover the lost

petroglyphs left by the Lucayan Indians some 500 years

ago. However, East Caicos is a treasure trove of history,

and much of it is more recent than the Lucayans. With

this in mind, while the team was exploring caves and

Lucayan homesites, I ventured into the bush on the east

coast of the island to look around the long-abandoned

ruins of the township known as Jacksonville.

In the late 1880s, sisal growing was attempted and

became the largest export East Caicos ever saw. Sisal (in

the past also called pita) is an agave plant that is grown

for its very strong fibers that are used to produce rope

and twine. At the height of production, much of the

suitable ground was planted but not for long. Due to

poor global demand, the industry was abandoned on

East Caicos by the early 1900s.

In the late 1800s, cattle ranching was also carried

On East Caicos, remnants of the original Jacksonville settlers—pottery and glass bottles—litter the ground. They have lain there since

the late 1800s.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 67

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

out by J. N. Reynolds and for years was moderately

successful. The beef was considered to be quite good

and was especially appreciated in Grand Turk considering

that the alternative usually consisted of canned

and salted meats. After the abandonment of the island,

remnants of these herds existed for decades, but were

eventually hunted to extinction. Today, only donkeys

can still be found in the wild there.

Located on the island’s west end, Jacksonville was

the social center of East Caicos. Sisal processing stations,

houses, a company store and barracks capable

of holding up to 400 people were all part of the “town.”

Only a few ruins remain of this small settlement in the

thick,unrelenting bush that is evermore reclaiming them

back to nature. Yet, it’s interesting to note that these

ruins lay alongside layers of history from the Lucayans,

to slave traders, explorers and modern-day developers.

As I climb the small incline from the beach (homesteads

were always constructed on ridges due to the

breeze), I first note that some “new” construction has

taken place in the last 10 years — maybe someone’s

idea of rekindling this old ghost town? It’s obvious the

work was abandoned before completion.

I soon reach the summit and the ruins of the

houses appear through the

thick undergrowth. Most of the

walls still stand, a testament to

the craftsmen that toiled here,

with some still showing plastered

walls which were made

from burning conch shells.

It’s interesting to see that

although the roofs have long

gone, some original timbers

still line the doorways. More

interesting still is the original

“graffiti” etched into the walls

which show dates (1892) and

the outlines of what appears

to be a schooner, perhaps produced

by idle hands or minds

dreaming of home?

To further confirm that history

is often linear, I stumble

This is the “new” construction that has taken place in the last 10

years at Jacksonville, although it’s obvious the work was abandoned

before completion.

across some reddish clay substance on the surface. This

turns out to be Lucayan pottery made of red clay from

dust blown from the African continent. It’s a wonder to

think what else these early settlers of Jacksonville stumbled

across when they set up home here in the 1800s.

One thing is for sure, whatever era we investigate, other

parts of history are closely intertwined. a

This is the “graffiti” carved into the walls of some of the abandoned Jacksonville homes which

show dates (1892) and the outlines of what appears to be a schooner.

68 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Museum Matters

¿Donde esta Simon, Sandy?

Where is Simon, Sandy? The

Story of a Little Donkey That

Wouldn’t Quit is a classic

folk tale set in Grand Turk.

The first edition, written by

Donna Marie Seim and illustrated

by Susan Spellman,

was first published in 2008.

It is now in its fourth printing

in English. The fifth printing

will be ¿Donde esta Simon, Sandy?, a Spanish edition

with all-Spanish text.

Sales from the book have supported the TCNM’s

Children’s Club since 2008. Summer camp for the

National Museum, giving children a fun and cultural

experience each summer, has been funded for eleven

years by local donors and Where is Simon, Sandy? as the

primary sponsor.

Some years ago the text was translated into Spanish

as a donation to the Museum by Maria Fernandez

Miquel, an engineer who designed and directed construction

and operation of Grand Turk’s water supply

system and Fernando Perez Monteagudo, who was in

charge of the coastal environmental resources in the

DECR. They are currently residents of Cuba but enjoyed

living in Grand Turk for eight years. They had the wish

to see Where is Simon, Sandy? printed in Spanish so

Spanish-speaking children could read and enjoy this

endearing story about loyalty, friendship and community.

The Spanish text was edited by Nilda Monteagudo

Nunex, Doctor of Philosophy and Literature, specializing

in teaching Spanish to foreign students.

We are now midway in the process of fundraising

for the money necessary to make this a reality. If you

would like to donate to this project please contact the

TC National Museum. All sales from the Spanish edition

will be donated to the Museum’s Children’s Program. a

“Islanders” to tell their story. Features have focused on

family ancestry, boat building, childhood games, music,

bush medicine, politics, crafts (such as basket weaving)

and life “back in the day.” Most recently, the Museum

spent a few days in North and Middle Caicos to hear the

stories of the residents.

We are now in the process of editing these interviews

for publication on our various social media channels

and will soon launch the trailer for the story of the

People of the Islands

In the Summer 2019 edition of the Astrolabe, we

launched the Museum’s oral history program, “People

of the Islands.” The goal of this project was to allow

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 69

astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Museum Matters

Caicos Sloop. Additionally, we are working on a “People

of the Islands” exhibition to be launched in Grand Turk

in the summer of 2020.

If you have a recommendation for an interviewee,

please email the museum at info@tcmuseum.org. a

Evening with the Expert — Bill Keegan

Both museum locations (Grand Turk and Providenciales)

occasionally offer “Evening with the Expert” events. Our

most recent guest speaker was Dr. William Keegan

(Caribbean archaeologist) from the Florida Museum of

Natural History. The topic of his talk was “The Case for

the Caribs in the Lucayan Islands” and is available on

our Facebook page and Youtube channel.

Dr. Keegan and Dr. Lindsay Bloch (ceramic specialist),

also from the Florida Museum of Natural History

were in town as part of a joint research project with the

Museum. Details of this project will be published in a

future edition of the Astrolabe. a

These three sets of images of Islanders represent some of the

folks whose story will be part of the Museum’s new “People of the

Islands” exhibition.

a game of Pin-the-Tail-on-the Donkey after creating their

own tails. a

Author Donna Marie Seim participated in the January 2020 meeting

of the Museum’s Children’s Club on Grand Turk.

Caribbean archaeologist Dr. William Keegan was a guest speaker at

the Museum’s “Evening with the Expert” in February 2020.

Children’s Club (Grand Turk)

At our January 2020 Children’s Club, participants were

able to take part in reading of Where is Simon, Sandy?

with author Donna Marie Seim, along with her new

book, Bella and Jingles. Later, everyone participated in

Upcoming events

Casino Event (Grand Turk) — April 24, 2020

(New date!)

Back in the Day (Provo) — May 16, 2020

Gala 2020 (Provo) — June 6, 2020

Cooking Competition and Raffle (Grand Turk) —

July 25, 2020 a

70 www.timespub.tc

around the islands

Lovey Forbes and Elicia Richardson, a visitor to North Caicos from Boston, play a round at the Combina Golf Course.

Not Your Average Golf Course

Combina golf is rich in North Caicos charm.

Forget all your usual notions about golf courses or miniature golf. Fairways of grass? Forget it. Manicured

putting greens? Forget it. Windmills or tiny castles or colourful concrete animals? Nope. The Combina

Golf Course at Horse Stable Beach on North Caicos is something entirely different with its own North

Caicos style.

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photos by Tom Rathgeb

That’s because it was created by Lovey Forbes, a true son of North Caicos. In 2013 the musician and

community booster dreamed up a game similar to miniature golf (some call it putt-putt), but with a much

more compact form and using the island’s natural sandy soil instead of artificial greens. He drew up a

plan in the shape of a spoked wheel, with one hole in the middle and twelve more evenly spaced around

the circumference of the circle. Players would start in the middle and, following his numbered holes,

travel in six wedges for a total of 18 holes. Lovey then created what he called Circle Putt Golf (CPG) in

his beachfront yard in Whitby, raking the sand, lining holes with PVC pipe and making a “rough” from

casuarina needles. Conch shells painted with the hole numbers help players through the course.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 71

An overall shot of the Combina Golf Course reveals how close it is to the beach.

His front yard game (at one time he had three circles)

was an underground hit. People who knew Lovey or tourists

who stumbled upon the place could use the putters

and balls he provided and enjoy the game. He would even

provide a score sheet and offer to play along. The game

is fun and different and offers a challenge for even experienced

golfers, who quickly learn that playing on sand in

a natural terrain can be tricky.

Garden trail

Meanwhile, Lovey was bringing another idea to fruition at

Horse Stable Beach in 2016, where he created a walking

trail through the trees which he named Casuarina Garden

Trails. The area was at first an informal adjunct to the

government facilities there, then received an official

stamp of approval that included assistance in building a

music stage at the site in 2018.

That’s when a lightning bolt of an idea struck again.

Lovey decided not only to add his Circle Putt Golf to

the area, but also to turn the trails into another 18-hole

course. He set to work with his rake and added 18 holes

meandering through the trees, with lengths ranging from

8 to 75 feet. Players start from the center hole of the

CPG wheel and end there, allowing them to finish off

with a round of CPG for a total of 36 holes. Lovey named

this the Combina Golf Course. (He also calls his music,

which blends rock, country, calypso and reggae, combina


Like CPG, the longer course is on natural terrain with

a casuarina “rough,” with holes marked by conch shells.

There are also some gentle obstacles (a thin tree was left

in the middle of one of the holes), island-style decorations,

and inspirational signs along the way, reminding

players to Give God Thanks, Pursue Life, Honor Your

Mother, etc.

The person to contact

Lovey says that the Combina Golf Course was “designed

by the spirit,” but he’s the one who does all its maintenance

and is the contact person for those who want to

play the game. He can be found on Facebook as Lorett

Forbes, on Instagram as Lorett Lovey, or with a phone

call to (649) 242-8802. He will meet players at the site

with clubs and balls and explain the game. Lovey does

not charge people to play the course, but happily accepts

donations for its upkeep. Currently, he brings a paper

sign explaining Combina Golf when he is at the site, but

says he would like to get a more permanent sign so that

people will know what this odd little course actually is.

Yes, it’s odd, but that’s much of its island charm.

Lovey’s creation is “North Caicos” through and through.

Certainly not your average golf course. a

72 www.timespub.tc

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.

Getting here

There are international airports on Grand Turk,

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, Boston and

New York/JFK. United Airlines travels from Chicago and

Newark. WestJet travels from Toronto and Montreal. Air

Canada offers flights from Toronto and Montreal. British

Airways travels from London/Gatwick via Antigua.

Times of the Islands Spring 2020 73

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 February

2020 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.



Time zone

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.

Entry requirements

Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.

Customs formalities

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

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

government revenue.


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 and community cabs are abundant throughout

the Islands and many resorts offer shuttle service

between popular visitor areas. Scooter, motorcycle, and

bicycle rentals are also available.

74 www.timespub.tc


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

energy programs.

Departure tax

US $60. It is typically included in the price of your airline


Courier service

Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on

Providenciales and Grand Turk, and DHL. UPS service is

limited to incoming delivery.

Postal service

The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales is

located downtown on Airport Road. In Grand Turk, the

Post Office and Philatelic Bureau are 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.

Medical services

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are

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Times of the Islands Spring 2020 75

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.

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.

Government/Legal system

TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed

Governor, HE Nigel John Dakin. 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

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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

“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

Health Services.

National symbols

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.

76 www.timespub.tc

ahamensis). 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.

Going green

TCI Waste Disposal Services currently offers recycling

services through weekly collection of recyclable aluminum,

glass, and plastic. Single-use plastic bags have been

banned country-wide 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

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& Body Waxing




classified ads

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Community Fellowship Centre

A Life-Changing Experience

Sunday Divine Worship 9 AM

Visitors Welcome!

Tel: 649.941.3484 • Web: cfctci.com

Phone: 649-242-3439 or 649-346-7344

Email: touchofbliss@rocketmail.com

Newly located at Caribbean Place








Stop by Swim & Surf Store at

Caicos Cafe Plaza, Grace Bay.

(649) 432-5000


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R & K






Diagnostic Services • Wheel Alignment

Balancing • Tune Ups

Exhaust Repairs • A/C Repairs

Radiator Pressure Testing

Ralph Carmichael, Partner

649 242 0063 • 432 2374

649-941-8438 and 649-241-4968

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We’re here to

make your holiday

the island way...



Provo & North-Middle Caicos

Office: 946-4684

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!



82 www.timespub.tc



You Can

Count On

R-NETS: A roadmap for

TCI’s energy future

Solar integration

to the FortisTCI grid

We’re building partnerships to deliver a more sustainable

energy future for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

With the Resilient National Energy Transition

Strategy (R-NETS) serving as a roadmap, and with

new and ongoing investments in solar energy

generation, solar plus battery pilot project, and

an electric vehicle and charging station project,

FortisTCI is working every day to deliver resilient,

cost-effective and environmentally sustainable

energy, to fuel growth and development.

Solar + battery storage

pilot project

Electric vehicle

pilot project

www.fortistci.com | 649-946-4313 |

For Those Who Seek An

Exceptional Vacation Home & Lifestyle

Turtle Tail Estate

Turtle Tail Oceanfront

MLS 2000043


Condominium | Home & Villa | Land | New Development

649.946.4474 | info@tcsothebysrealty.com | turksandcaicosSIR.com

Venture House, Grace Bay | Resort Locations: Grace Bay Club and The Palms

Each franchise is Independently Owned and Operated.

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