Times of the Islands Summer 2021

timespub

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

TIMES

OF THE

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2021 NO. 135

ISLANDS

OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

COVID response successful

BORN OF NECESSITY

TCI’s first airline

REASON FOR HOPE

New coral disease treatment


Comfort Food Just Went A-list.

If your idea of comfort feels like

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Golden, crusty wood-fired pizza.

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and just oozing with temptation.

Salads and sides that give new meaning

to the word “indulgence.”

These days, we’re all hungry

for contentment and satisfaction.

Almond Tree at the Shore Club

simply takes it to a whole new level.

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YEARS IN A ROW AT THE WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS

5 DISTINCT VILLAGES TO

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held the top spot at the World Travel Awards for over two decades.

21 RESTAURANTS

@beachesresorts

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT BEACHES.COM, CALL 1-800-BEACHES

OR CALL YOUR TRAVEL ADVISOR

*Visit www.beaches.com/disclaimers/timesoftheislandsspring2021 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.


contents

Departments

6 From the Editor

17 Remember When

Born of Necessity

Story & Photos By Bengt Soderqvist

24 Eye on the Sky

Be Prepared

By Paul Wilkerson

28 Talking Taíno

Child’s Play

By Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson and

Michael Pateman

34 Looking Back

Bonefish Ahead!

By Diane Taylor ~ Photos By Marta Morton

45 Faces & Places

Snack & Paint

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photos By Tom Rathgeb

58 Real Estate

Hot, Hot, Hot!

By Kathy Borsuk

77 About the Islands/TCI Map

81 Subscription Form

82 Classified Ads

Feature

46 The Stars of Our Woods

By B Naqqi Manco ~ Photos By Marta Morton

52 Paradise Waiting

By Jayne Baker ~

Photos By Paradise Photography

Green Pages

37 A New Hope?

Story & Photos By Alizee Zimmermann, TCRF

TIMES

OF THE

ISLANDS

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS SUMMER 2021 NO. 135

On the Cover

Marta Morton, owner/operator of Harbour Club Villas

& Marina (www.harbourclubvillas.com) did a careful

photographic study of a family of Bahama woodstar hummingbirds

that made their home on the property. Here,

the two chicks appear ready to burst out of their tiny

nest. See article on page 46.

41 Sponging It Up

Story & Photos By Melissa Heres, SFS

Astrolabe

66 If Maps Could Talk . . .

Story & Images Courtesy Marjorie Sadler

72 What’s Hiding in Your Closet?

By Lisa Turnbow-Talbot

34

BETH SWANSON–SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

4 www.timespub.tc


TurksAndCaicosProperty.com

5 Acre Mandalay Estate, Long Bay Beachfront

Nestled along coveted Long Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands, Mandalay Estate offers a discerning

buyer an idyllic private retreat with 300 ft. of pristine, white sandy beach and brilliant turquoise waters.

Mandalay features 7 bedrooms and an award-winning architectural design capturing the essence of

open Caribbean living with a masterful layout that revolves around the spectacular multi-level pool.

US$19,500,000

Bernadette Hunt

Cell ~ 649 231 4029 | Tel ~ 649 941 3361

Bernadette@TurksAndCaicosProperty.com

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.

Beachfront Sunrise Villa, Emerald Point

Sunrise Villa is a stunning two-storey 5-bedroom, 6 and a half bathroom beachfront residence located

in Emerald Point, one of the most prestigious developments in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This

newly built (2018) magnificent property offers nearly 9,000 sq. ft. of luxury indoor/outdoor living

space, is set on .72 of an acre and boasts just over 100 ft. of beautiful white sandy beach frontage.

US$7,250,000

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.

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.

Long Bay Beachfront Land

Attention real estate investors interested in developing a large 1.12-acre parcel of beachfront land with

80 ft. of Long Bay Beach frontage. This land offers an excellent spot to construct an expansive private

estate or several smaller villas if so desired. Act now while there is still availability in this prime location.

Please contact Bernadette if you would like

to find out more about owning real estate in

the Turks & Caicos Islands.

US$2,200,000


from the editor

STL IMAGES

TCI’s popular Junkanoo celebrations (shown here) morphed from the original tradition of Maskanoo, in which costumes were made from tissue

paper, newspaper, brown paper and plastic bags. In this way, the past has melded into the present, and culture survives.

Kudos to Culture

My family heritage is Czechoslovakian. All four of my grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early

1900s; one grandmother had to wait two years before she could legally enter and reunite with her husband. As

children, my siblings and I were blessed to know these relatives from a foreign land, who spoke a different language

(mostly when it was a topic we shouldn’t hear) and shared a rich heritage from the “Old Country.” Food (pork, dumplings

and sauerkraut), customs (accordian music and polka dancing), a strong sense of community and caring among

other immigrants from Europe, values of thrift and hard work, a strong appreciation for the freedoms of America and

an overarching love for us, their grandchildren, were an important part of our life.

I say this so readers will understand why the culture of my adopted country—the Turks & Caicos Islands—is so

important to me. Here, I have long felt “at home,” especially among the older folk. Like my own family, they had to

work hard, use ingenuity, sacrifice and stick together to survive and thrive. This is reflected in the stories of days

past that often frequent our pages.

My fear is that as the TCI grows into a safe haven for the wealthy, it becomes just another gated beach destination

and loses the charm and uniqueness that have captivated visitors and residents. And so we continue to highlight

the TCI’s national treasures—environment, people, folkways, history—in the hope of encouraging readers to look

beneath the surface and study the “soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands.”

I’m so grateful that we are back in business with a full, extended printing of this issue. We look forward to getting

it into the hands of the many new travelers who are flocking to the country this summer.

Kathy Borsuk, Editor • timespub@tciway.tc • (649) 431-4788

6 www.timespub.tc


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Managed by:

Brand partner:


YOUR FAMILY

HAS BEEN AND

WILL ALWAYS BE

PRIORITY

#1

®

BEACHES

THE BRAND YOU CAN

TRUST

PHYSICAL

DISTANCING

PRACTICES

11

1

SUITE

CLEANING

TOUCH 5

POINTS

In-Room Bars &

C o ff e e / T e a S t a t i o n s

2 All Closet Accessories

3 Air Ducts

4 Hard Surfaces

Television &

All Electronics

6 UV-LED Lights

WE’RE SAFEGUARDING YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

PRIVATE

AIRPORT

TRANSFERS

NEW

AT-HOME

to

IN-ROOM

CHECK-IN

GUESTS CAN NOW

CHECK-IN ONLINE,

LETTING THEM SKIP

THE FRONT DESK AND

GO DIRECTLY TO

THEIR ROOM.

7 Bed Frame & Furniture

8

BEACHES ONLY USES

PRIVATE TRANSFERS FOR ALL GUESTS.

As part of the 5-STAR LUXURY EXPERIENCE,

Beaches guests are never left to fend for

themselves in crowded airports. Every guest

is given access to the private lounge reserved

for Beaches guests.

Placement Of

Anti-Bacterial Gels & Soaps

9 Carpeting And Floors

10 Soft Furnishings

11 Bedding & Mattresses

BATHROOM CLEANING TOUCH POINTS

9

1

2

Hand Sanitizers For All

Guests Upon Arrival

Placement Of Anti-Bacterial

Gels And Soaps

3 Floors

4 Electrical Aerosol Sprayers

5 Shower

6 UV-LED Light

7

SAFETY

TO EVERY CORNER OF THE RESORT

Tub

8 Air Ducts

EXCLUSIVE

A

9 Hard Surfaces

that

I R P O R T

SPANS

PRIVATE

L O U N G E S

TEMPERATURE

CHECK

AT CHECK-IN

TEMPERATURES

EXCEEDING

99.5F/37.5C

WILL BE CONSIDERED

OUT OF RANGE.


LEADING THE INDUSTRY IN HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS.

ALWAYS.

1 Arrival At Our Airport Lounges

2 Guest Transfers To Our Resorts

3 Food And Beverage Outlets

4 Housekeeping & Laundry

OUR

TOUCH POINT PRACTICE

5 Butler Elite Services

6 Maintenance

7 Resort Recreational Activities

8 Guest Rooms

9 Elevators

10 Swimming Pools & Whirlpools

11 Team Members Access Points

12 Fitness Centers

13 Bathrooms

14 Suppliers

15 All Public Resort & Beach Areas

16 Back Of House Areas

17 Red Lane ® Spa

18 HVAC Systems

safe

to slide

3X

TRIPLE

CHECK

SYSTEM

FOR CLEANING

AND

SANITIZATION

Prevention is the key to safeguarding the health of our

employees and guests. We long ago developed a sophisticated

approach to preventing the spread of illnesses at our

resorts under the guidance of medical professionals,

the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention

(CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the local

Ministries of Health in each country we call home. We

have dedicated Quality Inspection Teams and environmental

health and safety managers at all of our resorts to make

sure every procedure is in place to protect every guest and

team member. That even extends to our supply chain. Our

resorts have always been equipped with full-service

medical stations staffed daily with a registered nurse

and 24/7 on-call medical personnel, but we’ve upgraded

these facilities to include the appropriate equipment

and supplies needed to address new protocols. So you

can book your next stay with us knowing that Beaches has

always been the brand you can trust, and always will be.

BEACHES.COM l 1-800-BEACHES

Or Call Your Travel Advisor

@beachesresorts

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


- --- ---

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-==---

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TIMES

OF THE

ISLANDS

MANAGING EDITOR

Kathy Borsuk

ADVERTISING MANAGER

Claire Parrish

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Jayne Baker, Kathy Borsuk, Bengt Soderqvist,

Dr. Betsy Carlson, Melissa Heres, Dr. Bill Keegan,

Bryan N. Manco, Dr. Michael P. Pateman,

Jody Rathgeb, Marjorie Sadler, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot,

Diane Taylor, Paul Wilkerson, Alizee Zimmermann.

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Anna Handte-Reinecker, Melissa Heres, Marinas.com,

Marta Morton, Paradise Photography, Dr. Michael P.

Pateman, Provo Pictures, Tom Rathgeb, Marjorie Sadler,

Bengt Soderqvist, STL Images, Beth Swanson—Shutterstock,

Lisa Turnbow-Talbot, VisitTCI.com, Alizee Zimmermann.

CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS

Alejandra Baiz, NOAA, Wavey Line Publishing.

PRINTING

PF Solutions, Miami, FL

Times of the Islands ISSN 1017-6853 is

published quarterly by Times Publications Ltd.

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16 www.timespub.tc


emember when

This is one of the two original planes that comprised Caicos Airways Ltd. (see the CAL logo under the wing). It was a Cessna 180 that belonged

to Kris Ludington and carried one pilot and three passengers. Pilot Embry Rucker is at left.

Born of Necessity

TCI’s first airline comes to life.

Story & Photos By Bengt Soderqvist

After Fritz Ludington’s Provident Limited kick-started the development of Providenciales in the fall of

1966, a lot of changes occurred. Nothing changed more dramatically than the way people were traveling.

Up until that point, the main modes of transportation had been walking and boating.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 17


The sailing sloops were very important and the fact

that there were so many sailors affected the way people

spoke. If you lived in Blue Hills you walked up to The

Bight. (It was upwind.) I recall one time in the early 1970s

when I tried to locate Hilly Ewing, who was the building

inspector at the time. Before we had telephones, the best

way to locate people was to inquire at the airport. On my

question if anybody had seen Hilly somebody answered,

“He went up this morning.” He had flown to Grand Turk,

which is upwind from Providenciales.

One time, at the Third Turtle’s construction site when

Alfred Stubbs tried to organize some workers to move

a concrete mixer, I heard him saying, “Move the stern.”

Alfred had been a sailor all his life, so even a mixer had a

bow and a stern. A journey by sloop to Grand Turk from

Providenciales was a big event in those days, but all that

was soon to change.

In the Spring 2021 issue of Times of the Islands, I

wrote about the original airstrip on Providenciales. In the

beginning, that strip was mostly used by Fritz when he

flew to Grand Turk for meetings with the government.

In Grand Turk he used what we named the “Downtown

Strip,” which was a dirt road just north of St. Thomas

Church. According to Dr. Leo Astwood, Frankie Jones

from Bermuda, who was the District Commissioner in

South Caicos in the 1950s, had a small plane that he used

to land there. Dr. Astwood told me, “When I came back

home in 1971, Embry was landing there.”

The Downtown Strip was conveniently located within a

short walking distance of the TCI Government compound.

At the time, the main airport in Grand Turk was controlled

by the US Government and it was very complicated to

obtain a landing permit. Fritz was always very generous

when it came to offering free rides if there was a seat

available. One time I heard Fritz saying, “There are so

many people who want to go to South Caicos and Grand

Turk, we might as well start an airline.” Shortly thereafter,

Caicos Airways Ltd. (CAL) was formed.

This was in 1967 and one important factor was that a

man named Lew Whinnery had shown up on the scene.

Ray Ward and his construction crew were building the

Third Turtle Inn on top of the cliff just south of what today

is Turtle Cove Marina. One day they saw a small, single

engine sea plane circling the construction site before

landing close to the beach in front of them. Soon afterwards,

Lew walked up to the construction site. He had

flown over Providenciales before and this time, noticed

that something was different. Lew asked Ray what he was

building and if he needed some help. Ray replied that it

This image shows the “Downtown Strip” in Grand Turk. It was a dirt

road just north of St. Thomas Church.

This picture includes Lew Whinnery’s seaplane. He was en route from

South America to the United States, but got delayed in Turks & Caicos

for a few years! He was one of CAL’s original pilots.

would be a big help if he could fly to South Caicos and

bring back a few cases of Heineken beer because they

were running low. That is exactly what Lew did, so we

knew right away that he was a man with his heart in the

right place!

In 1967, Heineken was the only beer available in Turks

& Caicos. I was told, or read somewhere, that Turks &

Caicos held the world record in Heineken drinking per

capita. Apparently somebody in an office in Holland

who was handling shipping documents got curious and

wanted to find out more about the country. (This was

before you could Google such information, so he probably

had to go to a library to educate himself.) He learned

that the total population of Turks & Caicos at the time

was 6,000 people. Adding up the amount of Heineken

that was shipped out to TIMCO in Grand Turk gave Turks

& Caicos the world record.

Lew Whinnery was a very experienced pilot and he

expressed interest in sticking around in Turks & Caicos

for awhile. Embry Rucker, also a pilot, already worked for

18 www.timespub.tc


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Times of the Islands Summer 2021 19

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CAL’s second plane was a Twin Bonanza. This photo was taken on Providenciales when the airstrip was only 700 feet long.

Provident Limited. With two pilots available, Fritz, Embry

and Lew sat down to figure out how Caicos Airways Ltd.

was going to operate.

There were two airplanes available. The Cessna 180

that belonged to Kris Ludington carried one pilot and three

passengers. There was also a Beechcraft Twin Bonanza

with room for one pilot plus five passengers. Embry lived

This is a 1969 aerial photo of the airstrip on North Caicos. It was

located on a tidal flat just south of Kew. Heavy rain or high tides

made it unusable.

in South Caicos where there was a very good runway.

Grand Turk had the downtown strip, Providenciales had

the 1,200-foot strip, but there was nowhere to land on

North nor Middle Caicos.

Embry and Lew went to work and found some locations

that could be used as airstrips. On North Caicos

they picked a spot on the tidal flats just south of Kew.

Most of the time this strip had a smooth and hard surface,

but heavy rain or extremely high tides would make

it unusable. On Middle Caicos they picked two places.

One was just east of Conch Bar. In those days there was

a footpath between Conch Bar and Bambarra named

Anderson Road. They arranged to have some bush cut

and made one section of the path wider. The second strip

was between Bambarra and the beach just north of the

settlement. This strip was truly unique because it had a

dogleg. As the pilot was gaining speed on takeoff, he had

to slightly change direction!

As soon as CAL was up and running it also became

the mail carrier for the government. Earlier, the mail

on Providenciales arrived from Grand Turk via the boat

Donna Casilda captained by Algernon Dean, who had the

contract with the government. According to Algernon

Dean’s son (with the same name), the mail was supposed

to be delivered every two weeks but sometimes

got delayed. The “Post Office” on Providenciales was the

living room of the Brown’s house in Blue Hills. This was

located just east of the government school, rest house

20 www.timespub.tc


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These aerial photos from 1969 show the early airstrips on Middle

Caicos. The top image is located just east of Conch Bar; the “Anderson

Road” footpath was cleared and made wider. The bottom image was

between Bambarra and the beach just north of the settlement. This

strip was truly unique because it had a dogleg.

and water tank, which is about where the jetty is today.

At the time, I was using the mail service to correspond

with friends and relatives in Sweden, and surprisingly, it

functioned very well. I remember standing outside the

front door, which was split so the lower part remained

closed, while through the open upper half I watched Osley

Brown searching through the mail. I only just learned

that the postmaster was actually George Brown. The only

person I remember seeing there was Osley, who I now

understand was actually the daughter.

I recall a public meeting in Blue Hills when one item

that was discussed was the mail service. A gentleman,

which I now understand must have been George Brown,

22 www.timespub.tc


pointed out all the increase in work and suggested that

an increase in pay would be in order. Earlier, Algernon

Dean used to deliver the mail bag to the Brown house,

but now Osley had to walk to the airport several times a

week.

Another incident I recall is when CAL pilot Embry

Rucker and his wife Noreen were living in Caicos House

in South Caicos. Late one afternoon I was the only passenger

flying out of Grand Turk with Embry. As we were

climbing above Grand Turk, Embry said, “Lew is almost

landing on Providenciales, so I’m not going to waste fuel

and fly you over there this evening. You can sleep on the

couch at our place. I have to be on Providenciales early

tomorrow anyway.” Made sense. I thought it would be

nice if I could help out with dinner, since I was crashing

their place. I asked Embry if he could get somebody on

the radio and, if Lew hadn’t left, have him bring back four

steaks. Fritz’s favorite food was New York strip steaks

and I knew we had plenty in the freezer. Embry made

radio contact and ordered the “steaks.” But when Lew

arrived to Caicos House he brought four survey “stakes.”

Whoever Embry spoke to on the radio had figured that if

I was staying in South Caicos it was because I was doing

some survey work. I don’t remember what we had for

dinner that evening, but knowing Noreen she would have

opened some cans and whipped up something delicious.

As time went on, CAL expanded. More airplanes and

pilots were added. Even a DC3 was used on the downtown

strip in Grand Turk. By 1971 the main airport on Grand

Turk was opened for use. Soon thereafter, air service

between the Islands was taken over by other companies,

but it had all started in 1967 with Embry and Lew. a

The new post office in Providenciales is named after George Brown.

VISITTCI.COM

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 23


eye on the sky

The Tropical Atlantic region is fresh off the most active hurricane season in history, with 30 named storms

and 14 hurricanes, with 6 major hurricanes. While no two seasons are alike, can we expect similar results

for the 2021 season?

Be Prepared

2021 hurricane season poised to be active.

By Paul Wilkerson

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 25


Hurricane season runs annually in the Atlantic from

June 1 to November 30. It is important to note that tropical

activity can occur outside of these dates, of course.

Named systems have formed in May and also in December

due to favorable conditions in the Atlantic Basin.

During 2020, El Niño conditions transitioned to neutral/weak

La Niña. In general, neutral and weak La Niña

conditions lend to a more active season. Upper level

winds during this type of El Niño–Southern Oscillation

are typically light across the Atlantic Basin, resulting in a

reduction in wind shear, which promotes an environment

conducive to tropical development. The other piece of the

2020 puzzle was well-above-normal sea surface temperatures

across the entire Atlantic, Caribbean and into the

Gulf of Mexico. As a result, plenty of fuel was available

for tropical development.

For the 2021 season, unfortunately some of the conditions

will mirror the 2020 season. As of press time, weak

La Niña conditions were present, with the forecast calling

for these conditions to continue to weaken through

the first month of summer before conditions turn neutral

for the remainder of the summer and into the early

fall. Additionally, sea surface temperatures currently are

running above normal in a large portion of the Gulf of

Mexico, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Basin. As a result

of these conditions, the opportunity will exist for a significant

tropical season across the Atlantic.

NOAA is predicting another above-normal Atlantic

hurricane season. However, experts do not anticipate the

historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. For 2021, a

likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph

or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes

(winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes

(category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or

higher) is expected.

My personal official forecast is for 20 named storms, 9

hurricanes and also 4 major hurricanes. (For perspective,

the average hurricane season sees 14 named storms,

7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.) While it is nearly

impossible to say with accuracy at this time, islands in the

Caribbean and the United States mainland stand a high

likelihood of seeing multiple land-falling systems during

the 2021 season.

With the 2021 season on the horizon, it is important

for all travelers to the Islands to take time to think about

their hurricane preparedness plans if one should occur

during your travels. It also is important to think about

adding trip insurance to protect your investment. If a

hurricane strikes while you are on-island, there is a significant

likelihood that you will be delayed in returning to

your country of origin. Also ensure that friends and family

at home are aware of your travel plans and have a copy

of your itinerary. If on-island and a tropical system threatens,

be sure to check with your hotel/resort/villa staff to

26 www.timespub.tc


get important messages concerning what you need to do

in order to stay safe. Follow all directions given, as they

are there to look out for you.

For our friends who call the Islands home, it is equally

important for you to go over your safety and preparedness

plans with your entire family. Let your neighbors

and friends know where you plan on seeking shelter

should a tropical system materialize. In the lead-up to

tropical systems, make sure to first and foremost follow

messaging instructions from the Department of Disaster

Management and Emergencies (DDME). This is the official

government source for messaging to island residents.

Other important entities to follow include the National

Hurricane Center and the Bahamas Meteorological

Agency. For unofficial information, my island weather

page—Turks and Caicos Weather Info on Facebook—provides

a good source of information prior to, during and

post-tropical systems. Iit is important to vet any and all

information you receive. In the event of a land-falling system

in the Turks & Caicos Islands, my page will only post

information that has been verified, in order to provide

accurate and up-to-date information for citizens and travelers

alike. DDME messaging will always be a significant

part of facts on the weather page.

While the Turks & Caicos Islands are three and a half

years removed from major Hurricane Irma, many still feel

the effects of that terrible event. Understandably, many

likely deal with anxiety as hurricane season approaches.

With diligent planning on the front end, you can be better

prepared to weather the storm should tropical weather

threaten this season. For visitors, preparation and conversation

about trips during tropical season will enable you

to make smart decisions and ensure your vacation runs

smoothly should inclement weather develop. a

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 27


ALEJANDRA BAÏZ


talking taíno

Opposite page: Alejandra Baïz is a Taíno artist from Borikén, Puerto Rico, who has always been inspired by the themes of her ancestors. She

says, “My artwork is a kind of storytelling that give us back the humanity and the true history of our Taíno ancestors, so denied, rejected and

hidden throughout the centuries. It is a way to recognize their struggle and reaffirm our identity.” She painted “Anacacuya” in 2016. For more

of her work, visit https://alejandra-baiz.weebly.com.

Above: The Taínos made red beads from the cherry jewelbox shell (Chama sarda). Given their small size and haphazard distribution, we

propose that children were tasked with collecting these shells in the beach wash.

Child’s Play

What was the life of Taíno children like?

By Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson and Michael Pateman

The huge interest in the Paleo Diet got us wondering. If eating like a “Caveman” was a great idea, then

why not other ancient practices, like childrearing? However, developing Paleo-Parenting guidelines proved

challenging because children are largely invisible in research on ancient societies. Then we came upon

the picture of young children in Amazonia walking through a burning garden and realized how difficult

it would be to encourage young parents to follow our advice! So parenting aside, what about the kids?

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 29


Finding any discussion of children in anthropological

studies proved nearly impossible. In fact, a scholarly

article written less than 20 years ago asked, “Why don’t

anthropologists like children?” Despite being important

members of all communities, and often the most numerous,

their activities have rarely been studied. One rare

example that highlighted children’s activities comes

from Doug Bird and Rebecca Bliege Bird, who conducted

research among islanders of the Torres Straits off the

northeastern coast of New Guinea.

The Birds studied child’s play in these traditional fishing

and farming communities, and it was what you would

expect from watching children today — games of speed,

strength, caring for pets and mimicking adult activities.

Instead of “Doctor” they played “Shaman,” where one

child would pretend to heal another who pretended to be

a sick patient. The process involved a dramatic ritual in

which the shaman removed an offending foreign object,

the “cause” of the illness, by sucking the object out of the

afflicted individual. The Spanish described this practice

for adult shaman (behique in Taíno) in the Caribbean.

The Birds also observed that children often played

together just beyond the watchful eyes of adults; close

enough to reassure themselves that adults were nearby,

but free from adult supervision. This gave us a simple,

yet illuminating, insight — we won’t see children in the

archaeological record of the past until we look for them.

Yet children have received even less attention from

archaeologists. What should we be looking for in terms

of preserved archaeological (“material”) evidence of their

activities?

Our search for children intensified as part of our

effort to develop a more comprehensive curriculum for

the Bahamas Ministry of Education. The story of the

Lucayans, the first people to live in The Bahamas and TCI,

was woefully out of date. Yet, secondary school students

were expected to pass a comprehensive history exam

which includes writing an essay about Lucayan “recreation.”

None of the resources provided to the teachers

even mentioned recreation.

In fact, the only mention of children at all concerned

the practice of flattening an infant’s forehead. This was

illustrated with what looks like a Medieval torture device

— a hinged board supposedly used to squash the skull

flat. Wrong! The actual procedure involved tightly binding

the front and back of the skull with a cloth bandana and

leaving it in place for six to nine months. The six main

bones of a child’s skull are held together by cartilage

so the brain can grow to its adult size. Binding the skull

permanently adjusts the relative positions of the bones to

create what was considered a beautiful appearance and

provided a permanent mark of identity. While flattening

the forehead was easily associated with infants, finding

other accounts of children proved much harder.

Our first archaeological encounter with children

happened when Betsy and Bill collaborated on an archae-

This is the “archaeological rescue project” undertaken by the authors in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in January 2014. They excavated a

1,600-year-old site that had been sealed beneath the roadbed. In addition to pottery and other tools, the site contained thousands of whelks

(Cittarium pica) and other tiny clam and snail shells that could have been collected by children.

30 www.timespub.tc


What better way to keep the Taino kids busy then to have them glean the rocks while the adults engage nearby in more productive fishing

and gathering? Small shellfish are especially well suited for a child’s size and attention span.

SHUTTERSTOCK

ological rescue project in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas,

US Virgin Islands in January 2014. New sewer and utility

lines were being installed under Main Street, and the team

quickly, but carefully, excavated a 1,600-year-old archaeological

site that had been sealed beneath the roadbed.

In addition to pottery and other tools, the site contained

thousands of whelks (Cittarium pica) and other tiny clam

and snail shells. Kelly Delancy, who now works for the

National Museum of the Bahamas, helped with their analysis

when she was a graduate student at the University

of Florida. Our study attracted international attention in

the article, “Children Have Been Helping Their Families

‘Grocery Shop’ for Centuries” printed in Martha Stewart

Living on March 27, 2019.

Almost all these shells came from animals that live

in the rocky intertidal zone. If you walk along the rocky

shorelines in the Turks & Caicos today and look closely,

you will see chitons, nerites, limpets, star shells and other

denizens of tide pools and splash zones. Over the years

we have eaten most of these (they taste best in garlic

butter!), but they are a lot of work for a very small morsel.

From a strictly economic perspective, they require more

energy to collect and cook than they return in calories.

Economics is not always the best way to explain what

people do. We know that everyone likes variety in their

diet, and we sometimes choose the most expensive item

on the menu. (A choice made easier when offered a discount.)

The large whelks at the Main Street site are something

we expect adults to collect, but why were there so

many tiny shells? Our sample looked like as if someone

was instructed to collect every animal living on the rocks

without regard to size. What better way to keep the kids

busy then to have them glean the rocks while the adults

engage nearby in more productive fishing and gathering?

These small shellfish had other characteristics that

are especially well suited for a child’s size and attention

span. They are abundant so the children won’t get

bored, predictable so you know they will find something,

lightweight and easy to carry by even small children, and

they are easy to collect, especially by small hands. Smallsize

resources that are easy to capture are best suited to

foraging by children. Modern studies of children helping

adults with mollusk collection confirmed this idea.

Children were less selective, captured a higher diversity

of taxa, rarely engaged in field-processing (extracting the

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 31


Could this small figurine (radiocarbon dated to AD 1426–1515) made

of finger coral be a doll? Its simplicity suggests that it may have been

made and carried by a child.

meat from the shell) and focused on resources located

close to their habitation or base camp. In addition, the

seemingly small contributions from children made longer

collecting trips more rewarding.

A related activity is worth considering. Every archaeological

site that we have studied has evidence for the

manufacture of tiny (2–4 mm) disc-shaped beads. White

beads were made from the queen conch shell, and red

beads from the cherry jewelbox shell (Chama sarda).

The jewelbox shell has the unusual quality of retaining

its bright red color for hundreds of years if protected

from sunlight. Based on our experience walking beaches

in The Bahamas and TCI, jewelbox shells are rare, and it

is unlikely that enough shells for bead making could be

collected in a single foraging trip. It is more likely that

the shells were accumulated over time. Given their small

size and haphazard distribution, we propose that children

were tasked with collecting these shells in the beach

wash. The advantage of collecting the dead shells from

the beach was that they were already partially shaped and

polished. This may have been a way for children to curry

favor with adults while at the same time playing along the

Atlantic coast beaches.

Archaeological evidence for toys is much harder to

find. Kids pick up all manner of objects and pretend that

they are something else, but anything made of a perishable

material is long gone. The long running joke is that

when archaeologists find something they can’t explain

they attribute it to “ceremonial significance.” Perhaps we

need to ask instead whether things we can’t explain are

due to child’s play?

For the past four years we have been investigating a

Lucayan archaeological site near Wemyss on Long Island,

Bahamas. Site LN-8 is a Lucayan settlement with three

32 www.timespub.tc


superimposed living surfaces. Large stains from house

posts show that we were excavating inside Lucayan

houses that were rebuilt in the same location over a period

of 500 years. One of many mysteries is why we found so

many small pieces of finger coral (Porites porites) inside a

house. There are no known practical uses for this type of

coral. We wondered, could they be associated with a kid’s

game, perhaps a kind of ancient LEGO? Such speculation

may seem farfetched, but while counting and weighing

dozens of pieces we made a discovery that may point to

children.

A small figurine, perhaps a “doll,” made from finger

coral was recovered. The object was found at the second

living surface (28–38 cm below surface), which is

radiocarbon dated to AD 1426–1515. It measures 6.2

cm in length and has two eyes incised on either side

of the head. The coral was abraded in places to produce

the figurine shape, and the coral polyps are worn

smooth through handling. A “mouth” appears on one

side, although this may be from suspending the doll on

a string necklace. There are a set of eyes on either side

of the head, which could reflect symmetry, but also gives

the object the same appearance when viewed from either

side. Or, the two sets of eyes might reflect the “twin spirits”

ascribed to cemís. The conventional interpretation of

this artifact would be a cemí idol, the representation of

a spirit(s), which would elevate it to the status of a ceremonial

object associated with adult practices of worship.

Yet cemís are rarely manufactured from coral, and the

simplicity of the artifact suggests to us that it may have

been made and carried by a child. We call this object a

“doll” to emphasize this point and interpret it as a child’s

talisman.

When we were children there were no car seats, no

bike helmets, no sunblock; but if you went swimming

less than 30 minutes after eating you would drown. Even

recent notions of childrearing don’t always provide sound

guidance. Walking through a burning garden and carrying

a machete might not concern parents in Amazonian

communities, but crayons are certainly a better gift for a

five-year old today. a

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

Dr. Bill Keegan is Curator of Caribbean Archaeology at the

Florida Museum of Natural History (University of Florida);

Dr. Betsy Carlson is Senior Archaeologist at Southeastern

Archaeological Research (SEARCH, Inc.) in Jonesville, FL;

and Dr. Michael Pateman is former Director of the Turks

& Caicos National Museum and currently Curator/Lab

Director of the AEX Maritime Museum on Grand Bahama.

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

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

TEL 649.946.4261 TMW@TMWLAW.TC WWW.TWAMARCELINWOLF.COM

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 33


looking back

This 1967 photograph shows the original airstrip after it had been extended to 1,200 feet. The Kew Town roundabout is approximately where

the 90º turn in the track road is. Walkin Marine’s current location is left of the standing water at the top of the picture.

Opposite page: These days, fishermen come to TCI’s abundant waters to fly cast for bonefish. Flamingo Lake, opposite Harbour Club Villas,

is a favorite spot for anglers.

Above: Although this man is using a cast net to collect bait fish, “hauling” for bonefish also involves surrounding the fish with a net.

Bonefish Ahead!

Hauling bonefish with Willis Taylor “back in the day.”

By Diane Taylor ~ Photos By Marta Morton

It was Easter Monday of 1982. On a whim, a small group of us (six, to be exact) sailed from Pine Cay to

Sandy Point on North Caicos with Richard Kriss on his 22' sailboat Little Wing. It was beautiful sailing as

we threaded our way through reefs and tied up to the dock. The same dock where I’d seen Haitian sloops

with their cargo of Haiti-grown fresh vegetables the crew would trade for dried conch that Caicos fishermen

had dived for. We all had to be back on Pine Cay the next morning for jobs, and arranged for trans

(transportation) with one of the few cars on the island to pick us up early the next morning.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 35


We chatted with people at Sandy Point and then our

“trans man” Zander drove us to Horse Stable Beach where

we walked the beach and marvelled over the shells and

the stillness. As the sun descended perilously close to the

horizon, the no-seeums began to hunt their large human

prey, so we headed over to Susan Butterfield’s for supper.

For some reason, the other five were able to spend

the night at a friend’s house that could only take five.

We heard that someone had a place where one person

could sleep and that’s where I spent the night. I got up at

5:15 Tuesday morning to wait for trans that never came.

Fortunately!

How Willis Taylor knew my situation, I don’t know, but

he came by and said he was heading to Pine Cay by motor

boat from Bellefield Landing. Would I like to come? Well,

yes! Broad smiles all around. His two teenage sons straddled

one bicycle, he another, and my place was behind

him.

Off we rattled on the gravel road under pedal power.

The last half mile or so veered down a steep hill, and we

plunged down at a mad pace, me holding on to him. Willis

knew and steered around every pothole and in no time we

arrived at the low tide water, and he and the boys tucked

their bikes away in the underbrush.

We loaded ourselves and our belongings into the skiff

that had a huge pile of netting in the stern. Willis showed

me his lunch bag that contained several whelks he’d collected

from the north side of Dellis Cay—his wife had

boiled them for him earlier that morning. The engine

came to life and we headed out across the flats. I’d be

home for breakfast.

Suddenly, the boy at the bow pointed ahead and off to

the port side. “Bonefish!” I didn’t see anything, but Willis

immediately steered over to an area several hundred feet

away, and as we approached I could see the water alive

with large silvery fish, lots of them, just below the surface.

I looked at Willis who gave me a little frown. “We

have to stop for these,” he said. The work day starts now.

He threw the anchor over and he and his sons leapt

into the waist-deep water, carrying the huge net. Within

minutes, the two boys carried one end of the net in one

direction towards the school of fish and Willis carried the

other end in the opposite direction until eventually the

net formed a large circle that trapped many of the fish

inside. All three began catching the two- and three-foot

long fish with their hands, giving the necks a quick twist

and tossing them into the boat.

“You, too,” Willis, worried look on his face, motioned

to me to give them a hand. Really? Okay, I could do this!

Into the den of circling fish I slid. “Break their necks if

you can, otherwise, just throw them in the boat,” he said.

Okay. I’d caught smelt (seven inches long) in Ontario with

my bare hands, I could do this! Well, this was different,

and I wasn’t a big help but I did add a few to the several

piling up in the skiff. I didn’t have the know-how to snap

their necks, though.

Those guys moved FAST! The excitement lasted all of

fifteen minutes. The boys carefully walked the net back in,

folding it just so, so that it would be ready at a moment’s

notice again. At least fifty bonefish. A good haul, a good

hunt. Most of them he would sell to the Meridian Club on

Pine Cay. Calm now, he weighed anchor and steered the

boat and cargo back on course over the milky turquoise

flats.

The next day, I ran into Willis on Pine Cay and he gave

me a slow warm smile and slight nod of the head. Not

long after, I somehow wound up on another bonefishing

trip with him, and “we” captured over eighty. He said I was

his good luck charm.

No, Willis, you were mine. How many people can say

they have been bonefishing the traditional time-immemorial

way? a

Diane “Dee” Taylor lived and worked for three years on

Pine Cay with her husband Gary Hodgkins in the early

1980s. They worked with PRIDE (Protection of Reefs and

Islands from Degradation and Exploitation) under the

direction of Chuck Hesse.

She teaches memoir writing and has published The

Gift of Memoir: Show Up, Open Up, Write. She is part

of Spirit of the Hills Writers. For more information, visit

https://dianemtaylor.com.

36 www.timespub.tc


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/

The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is trial testing a new treatment against Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Here, the infused hemp has been

applied to Grooved Brain Coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis) in May, 2021.

A New Hope?

TCRF tests alternate, non-antibiotic treatment against SCTLD.

Story & Photos By Alizee Zimmermann, Turks & Caicos Reef Fund

From wreaking havoc on the Florida Reef Tract to now threatening the stony coral population of reefs

in 17 countries and territories, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is proving itself to be the most

aggressive, virulent and indiscriminate coral disease in the Atlantic/Caribbean region to date.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 37


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

“Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is a new

lethal disease first reported in Florida in 2014. The cause

of the disease is unknown but it is affecting more than 30

species of corals especially brain, pillar, star and starlet

corals. The disease spreads quickly causing high coral

mortality. Since then, outbreaks of SCTLD have been

confirmed in the Caribbean off Jamaica, Mexico, Sint

Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Turks

& Caicos Islands, Saint-Martin, Belize, Sint Eustatius, The

Bahamas, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, Cayman

Islands, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Honduras and Martinique.”

(https://www.agrra.org/coral-disease-outbreak/)

As I attempt to wrap my head around what has

happened in the past two-plus years since SCTLD first

appeared on the reefs of the Turks & Caicos Islands, I

suddenly realize that it was two years to the day that I

had my first face-to-face encounter with an invasion zone

at the far south end of West Caicos. That day changed

everything. Before May 23, 2019, I had never heard of

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Two years later, it is a

focal point of my career and my life.

I’m not special or

unique; there are dozens

of people across

17 nations—scientists,

researchers, government

officers, NGO staff, citizen

scientists, scuba divers,

volunteers—whose lives

have all shifted focus,

who have been on the

frontlines of an unseen,

underwater battle. We

share a mutual sadness.

As stated in previous

articles, SCTLD was first

observed by the School

for Field Studies (SFS) in

South Caicos in January

2019. Since then, it has

spread locally to all the

fore reefs of the Turks &

Caicos Islands, now having

been confirmed on

the reefs of East Caicos in

March 2021. (Initial inva-

sion date undocumented but evidenced to be some time

earlier based on observed coral mortality.)

The School for Field Studies has collected extensive

baseline data on the reefs of South Caicos and in

February 2021 published a paper comparing the average

percentage of live coral cover between 2012–2018 to the

one-year post-SCTLD live coral cover recorded in 2020.

These studies indicate a 60+% loss of live coral cover on

the reefs studied.

Once again, we are not alone. St. Thomas recorded

34% loss of live hard-coral cover in the span of four

months in 2019, attributed to SCTLD. These numbers

are being repeated on reefs across the region. Not only

is this disease deadly and often resulting in entire colony

mortality, it is also spreading like wildfire through the

water column, able to infect large tracts of reef in very

little time.

Research into transmission vectors is still ongoing

but it has been affirmed that that the pathogen(s) is

waterborne and can be carried by dive gear (especially

If you see a tagged coral asking you to photograph it and email to SCTLD@tcreef.org please do! This project

aims to engage divers and citizens to help in a wider monitoring effort.

38 www.timespub.tc


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

neoprene and the inner bladder of a BCD),

as well as through ballast water from recreational

and commercial vessels.

Although hit hard, scientists and managers

in the TCI are also fighting hard to

track, treat and manage SCTLD locally as well

as continuing to participate in the regional

conversation and effort. An incredible line of

communication and collaboration has opened

amongst managers and scientists, governments

and NGOs, neighbouring islands.

The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF) has

been working alongside the Department of

Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR) to

test trial different intervention and treatment

methods as well as the continued tracking of

disease presence.

You may remember an article on the

success of the treatment used by multiple

strike-teams region-wide— amoxicillin mixed

into a specially designed paste called Base2B.

This intervention method continues to be the

most effective at halting disease progression

across a colony. In TCRF’s Final Status

Report based on a permit received to test the

efficacy of antibiotic treatment, up to a 90%

success rate was still being recorded in up to

six months of monitoring.

TCRF currently has a Scientific Research

Permit allowing us to expand our intervention

efforts and treat large, priority colonies

along the reef tract. If you see a tagged coral

asking you to photograph it and email to

SCTLD@tcreef.org, please do! This project

aims to engage divers and citizens to help us

in a wider monitoring effort. We can’t be everywhere at

once, but with an active local dive community, we’re hoping

to engage opportunistic monitoring of our expansion

efforts.

Alongside this effort, over the past month, we have

started testing an alternative, non-antibiotic treatment

This Maze Coral (Meandrites meandrina) was treated with the original treatment

method, amoxicillin in Base2B, in May 2021.

created by Ocean Alchemists, the same company that

developed the Base2B currently used. TCRF has been

working closely with the team at Ocean Alchemists and

we were excited for the opportunity to be the first to

test trial their newly developed non-antibiotic treatment

on SCTLD in the field. This particular treatment has

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 39


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

had notable success against Black Band Disease in the

labs at the MOTE Marine Laboratory in Florida. It is an

all-natural, non-antibiotic proprietary formula (it smells

like Christmas with a heavy cinnamon component!) that

has been imbued into flat braided hemp ropes which are

then stapled into the coral along the lesion margin. In

May 2021, TCRF tagged approximately eighty colonies

along three transects on the dive site Catacombs in Grace

Bay, Providenciales and either treated with one of the two

treatments or kept as a control.

We are conducting a head-to-head trial of Coral Cure

D versus amoxicillin in Base2B with a selection of control

colonies left untreated. Although ongoing, we were able

to revisit the site with up to three weeks since treatment

and the results are positive! Soon we will be reporting on

our experimental trials to help continue improving the

product. Not only are we looking at efficacy compared

to the amoxicillin treatment, we are also making observations

on ease of application as well as other properties

such as the swelling capabilities of the product which

affect how deep into the grooves of certain corals the

product can reach. If the treatment doesn’t reach down

into the valleys of a brain coral, for example, it is less

likely to be successful is stopping the disease progression.

We will be monitoring the treated coral heads and

documenting each tagged colony photographically every

two weeks (weather dependant) for two months and then

once a month after that for a total of six months from

treatment day. We will be looking at the comparative efficacy

of this new treatment approach to that of the current

standard of care, the amoxicillin in Base 2B.

As mentioned above, preliminary observations are

positive and if this treatment proves successful, it will be

ground-breaking in SCTLD interventions. Even those most

in favour of antibiotic intervention do so with a “time is

of the essence” motivation. If a successful alternative can

be found, this will ease environmental fears as well as

probably easing permitting difficulties across the region

and allowing strike teams to act faster.

Is this a new hope? Well, I sure hope so! If you are

interested in learning more about Stony Coral Tissue

Loss Disease log onto https://www.agrra.org/coral-disease-outbreak/

and email alizee@tcreef.org. There are

many ways in which we can all help the fight. a

40 www.timespub.tc


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

Editor’s note: In the Spring 2021 issue of Green Pages, the photo on the bottom of page 52 and the two photos on the bottom

of page 56 should have been credited to Anna Handte-Reinecker. Our sincere apologies!

Several blue, yellow and brown sponges can be seen in this photograph. Sponges come in all shapes and sizes but are characterized by their

pore-like structures that filter water through their bodies for nutrients and oxygen.

ANNA HANDTE-REINECKER

Sponging It Up

The hidden beauty of sponges.

Story & Photos By Melissa Heres, Waterfront Assistant, The School for Field Studies

Sponges, in my humble opinion, are likely the most underrated of all marine organisms. Often underappreciated

and tossed aside as a bathing accessory or the feature of children’s TV shows, sponges don’t

necessarily come to mind when one thinks of extraordinary marine life. That, however, should change.

Sponges—although classified as the simplest animal forms (and yes, they are animals!)—have extraordinary

characteristics, features and life stages that are truly awe-inspiring.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 41


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

Let’s start with a quick

crash course in sponge

biology. Sponges are considered

to be some of the

simplest animals due to

their structure—they lack

true tissue, organs or

even a brain, and instead

rely on specialized cells.

These cells work together

to filter water through

the sponge, allowing the

organism to absorb oxygen

and gain nutrients.

This filtering occurs when

cilia, or hair-like projections,

move in order to

create an area of negative

pressure inside the atrium

of the sponge, driving

water into the sponge’s

cavities via pores, or ostia,

and out through the main

opening, or osculum,

located near the top of the

sponge. Sponges also contain spicules, which act as support

to the structure, as well as spongin, which is a type

of collagen which give sponges their “spongy” structure.

One of the ways to capture a sponge’s beauty is

to put it under a microscope. Spicules—those support

structures mentioned earlier—can come in a variety of

different shapes, all of which are unique to different

sponges. By figuring out whether the spicules within a

certain sponge are composed of calcium or silica, as well

as by determining the shape of the spicules, scientists

can identify sponge species.

Peeking inside the atrium of sponges is my favorite pasttime while scuba diving. You can often find brittle

stars or shrimp that call them home hiding inside.

Sponges can reproduce in three ways: By spawning,

fragmentation and budding. Spawning occurs when

sponges release their sperm into the water column in

hopes that it will reach another sponge. If it does, the

cells of the sponge can capture the sperm and transport it

to the eggs for fertilization and brooding of larvae. Later,

the sponge will release the brooded larvae. This is the

only time in the sponge’s life when they’re not immobile,

as the sperm, and later the larvae that form, can move

with ocean currents until they find a spot to settle on the

sea floor. Interestingly, most sponges are actually hermaphroditic,

and produce both egg and sperm.

Fragmentation occurs when a part of a sponge

breaks off, for example, and then is perhaps moved by

currents or wave action to settle in a nook elsewhere.

Finally, budding occurs when part of a sponge actually

begins growing a clone of itself, which can eventually

break off to settle elsewhere, or remain attached to begin

a colony of sponges.

Freshwater sponges have a unique adaptation that

allows them to survive dormant in unfavorable conditions,

such as cold water, droughts or anoxic (low oxygen) environments.

These sponges can create gemmules, which

have an outer protective layer and can remain dormant

for long stretches of time. When conditions become

favorable again, these gemmules can release cells that

create new sponges, and some gemmules have even been

stored for up to 25 years!

Sponges and corals are often confused for one

another and I’ve even heard someone refer to a sponge

as a “coral-sponge.” Sponges and corals are, however, two

42 www.timespub.tc


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

different types of organisms. Sponges can be identified

by their telltale ostia and osculum. Sponges will have

what look like pores all over their structure, which are

the ostia, as well as a main large opening, usually near

the top of the sponge, which is the osculum. Corals don’t

have these pores or the osculum. If observed closely,

corals do have polyps—structures with tentacles used to

capture food—and will lack any opening or osculum.

Sponges are fascinating and bizarre creatures that

have incredible abilities. The following are some ways

that scientists have researched sponges in order to learn

more about these unique organisms. With a quick search

online, interesting videos can be found of this research,

but please keep sponges safe and don’t try this on any

sponges you see in the water!

One interesting way to check out a sponge’s flow of

water is to fill a syringe with water and food dye and

release this concoction around the base of a sponge.

You will soon see the colored water being released out

of the osculum at the top of the sponge, which shows

how sponges can filter water very quickly in order to get

proper nutrients and oxygen!

Sponges are widely considered the most basic animal

form, yet they actually have incredible abilities to

regenerate. Scientists have studied this characteristic by

separating sponge cells by squeezing them through a silk

cloth. Sponges are then actually able to re-form their cells

into a sponge. Even more interestingly, if two sponges

are separated in this method, they can recognize their

own cells and re-form as two sponges!

Although there are several types and body plans

of sponges, one in particular stands out as an awe-inspiring

and incredible animal. The Venus flower basket

(Euplectella aspergillum) is a type of glass sponge. These

sponges live in the deep sea, and have an intricate shape

created by layers of silica made in a precise pattern to

keep them structurally sound. The most interesting

part of this sponge, however, are its inhabitants. These

This giant barrel sponge stands tall at a dive site off the coast of South Caicos named The Spanish Chain.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 43


green pages newsletter of the department of environment & coastal resources

This sponge is actually being colonized by sponge zoanthids (Parazoanthus parasiticus), which are the round, yellow tentacle structures seen

all over the sponge. Inside this sponge, you can see the red arm of a brittle star.

This giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta) looks like it’s missing

a piece, creating a horseshoe shape. Sponges have incredible abilities

to regenerate, and it may form back into a single cylindrical structure.

sponges are almost always seen with two shrimp living

inside of them, one male and one female. It is thought

that these shrimp swim into the small pores of the sponge

as larvae and are soon too large to escape.

A bit closer to home in the Turks & Caicos Islands,

there are several other types of sponges that you might

encounter. From the giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia

muta) that can grow as large as six feet across, to the red

boring sponge (Cliona delitrix)—so named for its ability

to bore into rock and other substrates and only growing

about a foot long—sponges throughout the Caribbean

can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sponges

can also be a habitat for many smaller creatures that

live among the reef. Brittle stars—closely related to sea

stars—and shrimp call some species of sponge home. So

the next time you’re snorkeling or diving on one of the

TCI’s beautiful reefs or walls, keep an eye open for these incredible eyeless creatures. a

For additional information about The School for Field Studies,

visit www.fieldstudies.org or contact us on South Caicos at hhertler@fieldstudies.org.

44 www.timespub.tc


faces and places

From top left: Kadra Been-Handfield arranged the Snack & Paint event on North Caicos. Max Gardiner, one of the younger participants, took

to the task immediately. Susie Cortez of Dallas, Texas added to the artistic aura of the day by doing a live painting of a flamingo while the

children worked. The finished painting will be displayed on North Caicos at the welcome center for Flamingo Pond.

Snack & Paint

To paint a picture of TCI’s future, look no further than the Snack & Paint event held on North Caicos at Horse Stable

Beach in May 1, 2021, where children spent an afternoon painting and socializing in games.

Organized by North Caicos businesswoman Kadra Been-Handfield, the event drew 30 participants who were

encouraged to paint either a fish or something of their own imaginations. While they painted, artist Susie Cortez of

Dallas, Texas, worked on a painting that will, after framing, be displayed at the welcome center at Flamingo Pond.

Mrs. Been-Handfield was helped by a number of volunteers and supporters, including Barbara Gardiner, Joylyn

Handfield, District Commissioner Cynclair Musgrove, Althea Ewing, Merrica Handfield, Jody Rathgeb and Sara

Kaufman. They, too, enjoyed refreshments and the delight of seeing TCI’s future leaders express themselves.

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photos By Tom Rathgeb

From bottom left: Future artist in the making Kamron Gardiner eagerly takes brush to canvas.

A helper selfie includes, from left, Maxine Beswick, Barbara Gardiner, Joylyn Handfield, Kadra

Been-Handfield and Althea Ewing.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 45


feature

Opposite page: Robust, funnel-shaped flowers in bright hot colors are the Bahama woodstars’ favorite food.

Above: The next generation of Bahama woodstar hummingbirds is ready to leave their nest at Harbour Club Villas. The mother (at right) is

carefully supervising her young chick.

The Stars of Our Woods

The Bahama woodstar is TCI’s only regular resident hummingbird.

By B Naqqi Manco, TCI Naturalist ~ Photos by Marta Morton

Some years ago, while drilling drift seeds for a craft project, a bay bean Cannavalia rosea seed escaped

and rolled across the floor, at some point getting swept out the front door. Seed coat compromised

and sitting in an enriched flower bed, it took in the rain and did its best to out-show Jack’s beanstalk. It

wound up a shrub, then up a string to the eaves, where it scrambled eastward and dropped numerous

runners, eventually cloaking the entire front of my house, eaves to ground, in a thick tangle of leafy

vines. Following a heavy rain, it bloomed with such ferocity—its purple blooms like succulent sweet-pea

blossoms—that it became something of a buffet line for nectar feeders.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 47


During the day, butterflies and carpenter bees visited;

at night sphynx moths and beetles came for their shifts.

Such a productive viny tangle is irresistible to wildlife, but

there was one creature that filled the role of the supreme

diva of the bay bean façade, to which all others —even

members of her own species—gave deference. The prima

donna who chose to sup at the vines ruled them heartily,

but never so much as when she decided that the bank

of lianas was a suitable place to nest. It was then that a

Bahama woodstar showed her specific nature to me and

my visitors.

The Bahama woodstar Nesophlox evelynae is the only

hummingbird regularly resident in the Turks & Caicos

Islands and given its pugnacious nature, that’s not surprising.

Its species name honours the daughter, Evelyn,

of Conrad Loddiges (1738–1826), a German-born British

botanist. (Noteworthy here is that the generic epithet was

changed from Caliphlox to Nesophlox in 2014; and the

woodstar populations on Great and Little Inagua in the

Bahamas were named as the separate, endemic species

Nesophlox lyrura in 2015.) One wonders about the general

social comportment of namesake little Evelyn, as the

feisty Bahama woodstars hardly tolerate one another;

much less chance they would countenance another competing

species.

Far from the damp, muggy habitat of the majority of

the over 360 hummingbird species in the humid riparian

and montane forests of South America, the Bahama

woodstar stakes out territory in some of the driest, most

stunted, scrubby forests available. Hummingbirds are the

third most speciose family of birds, and the bee clade—

the group to which woodstars belong—is the youngest

and most rapidly speciating group.

Bahama woodstars are found throughout the Lucayan

Archipelago from Abaco (Bahamas) southward into Turks

& Caicos Islands, but they tend to be more numerous

on the central and southern islands where a heavy competitor

in the larger northern island forests—the Cuban

emerald hummingbird Riccordia ricordii—is absent.

Indeed the Cuban emerald has been noted in Turks &

Caicos Islands, but only as a vagrant on two confirmed

occasions. Our only other very unlikely vagrant hummingbird

is the world’s smallest bird and a close relative of the

woodstar, the Cuban bee Mellisuga helenae. (There are

two credible records of Cuban bee sightings in the Turks

& Caicos Islands.) With these species generally absent,

the Bahama woodstar has free range of the TCI and with

their frightful brand of militantly weaponized gumption,

the larger birds tend to steer clear of them too.

Hummingbirds are known for being fearless defenders

of their territories, including nests and feeding

areas. It’s not unusual to see them interacting with other

birds —including larger birds of prey—in a way that is

surprisingly severe. They chase, stab and harass other

birds away with their superior flight capacity, powered

by wings that beat over 60 times a second and can allow

them to attain true hovering, and to fly forward as well as

up, down, sideways, backwards and even upside down.

This is due to the structure and movement of the wings,

which move more like human hands treading water than

they do other birds’ wings. Angling each wing forward

on the down-stroke and backwards on the up-stroke in a

figure eight motion, they fly on vortices as much as they

do lift.

Flying and hovering on vortices is energy expensive,

and hummingbirds have the highest metabolisms of any

vertebrate. Their heart rates average 250 beats per minute

at rest, spiking to over 1,000 beats per minute during

their most demanding flight manoeuvres. Fortunately,

their main food source as adults—nectar—is sugar-rich.

They can digest and burn this sugar as little as thirty

minutes after a sweet sip.

Malaika Lakhani’s examination puts into perspective how tiny the

hummingbird nest really is.

48 www.timespub.tc


Above: This female hummingbird has completed her nest with silky wisps of air-plant seeds.

Below: The first egg—roughly the size of a soybean—has just hatched; at right are the pair of baby hummingbirds.

In Turks & Caicos Islands, Bahama woodstars encounter

numerous plant species that have specifically evolved

to accommodate bird pollinators. Robust, funnel-shaped

flowers in bright hot colours are their favourites. These

blossoms also carry the typical trait of having scent only

at night (for the sake of long-tongued sphynx moths

which also visit them) or no scent at all. Hummingbirds

have no significant sense of smell, and find their food

exclusively by sight and memory, so plants don’t bother

perfuming their flowers for them.

Some of the Bahama woodstars’ favourite nectar

plants are very showy—the Christmas hog potato Ipomoea

microdactyla with its waxy scarlet trumpets, and the

five-fingers Tabebuia bahamensis with its blousy crepe

paper funnels in pale pink. These are seasonal bloomers,

and so they do what they can to attract their pollinators.

But just as attractive are the subtly orange tube-blooms

of the golden creeper Ernodea littoralis and pineland

creeper Ernodea serratifolia which bloom year-round and

therefore spend less energy making gaudy displays.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 49


While these flowers are certainly custom fit to the

woodstars, other birds that cannot fit inside them still

sometimes get to the nectar. It’s common to see five-fingers

flowers with rough holes ripped in their tube bases,

the delicate pink browning from the damage done by

the scimitar bills of bananaquits, more robust nectar

feeding birds. Bananaquits are one of many species for

which woodstars have no time, and will bravely scold and

chase from their favourite plants. As bananaquits are

more social birds that live in family flocks, a sacrificial

bananaquit sometimes diverts a defensive woodstar from

a favoured flower patch while the rest of the family tears

the posies up and loots the juice.

This well-defended precious nectar is put to good

use by the woodstars. Throughout the year but mostly

in summer, females gather spider webs, wild cotton, fine

grass and air-plant seed fluff to built tiny nests, the size

of walnut shells, on branches often just 1–2 meters off

the ground. Males take no part in nest-building; they

spend their time defending territories especially rich with

nectar plants that are likely to attract females. Male hummingbirds

are, like most birds, most flashy than the hens,

and the male woodstar is equipped with an iridescent

gorget (chin-to-throat patch) and small crest. He will flash

his gorget and raise and lower his crest while twittering at

a female, hoping to attract her attention. The gorget can

be angled, and it can flash as amethyst purple or blood

red, depending on the light angle. He can even “turn it

off” to almost black, by angling it downward.

The male woodstar achieves that colour show by

way of his feathers, which in hummingbirds rely on both

pigmentation and structural refraction of light to create

colour. In fact, it is the melanin itself that is arranged in

a structured formation within the feathers that refracts

the light, and the feathers themselves incorporate both

melanin and carotenoids for their pigmentation.

Once a female is sufficiently wooed and mates, she

completes her nest. The nest is camouflaged with bits of

lichen stuck to its outside. The silky wisps of the air-plant

seeds, usually cuttlefish air-plant Tillandsia balbosiana,

silvery air-plant T. streptophylla, flexuous air-plant T.

flexousa or scorn-the-ground T. utriculata, tend to find

their placement on a tree limb bound into a moisture-retaining

nest the perfect place to germinate, and this is

how many air plants wind up in trees. The germinating

seedlings further assist in the camouflaging of the nests.

Into the disguised nest the female will lay two white

eggs roughly the size of cooked soybeans. Pound-forpound

(so to say), Bahama woodstar eggs are massive in

From top: The female hummingbird gathers insects and nectar to feed

her quickly growing young.

The male Bahama woodstar is equipped with an iridescent chin-tothroat

patch and small crest. Both are used to attract the attention

of a female.

50 www.timespub.tc


elation to the female’s body size. To compete relatively,

a chicken would need to lay two eggs the size of goose

eggs. The female incubates them stalwartly for two to

two-and-a-half weeks, and then gathers insects and nectar

to feed her quickly growing young. Fully feathered

within ten days, they often leave the nest for their first

uncertain flights in as little as 15 days. They need to be

able to fly strongly, and will be able to do so within a

week, in order to find food and—perhaps most importantly—survive

hurricane season.

Bahama woodstars are known to survive hurricanes

by hunkering down near the ground in dense scrub, often

on the leeward side of a tree trunk. But many are lost in

the strong winds, and they may also succumb to starvation

if a hurricane has been strong enough to damage

vegetation severely enough that nothing is in flower.

Scarlet cordia Cordia sebestena becomes a lifesaver for

them, as these trees often throw out their orange blooms

right after storms. Oddly, while other populations of hummingbirds

seem to take quickly to hummingbird feeders,

Turks & Caicos woodstars don’t seem to—but planting

their favourite native species definitely helps them and

attracts them to home gardens.

But my diva hummingbird arrived after a happy gardening

accident, and I had no idea any nesting was going

on—I never actually found the bay bean vine diva’s nest,

so well she hid it. I only knew it was there from the sudden

shift in her behaviour. Where she would previously

defend the flowers from bumblebees and bananaquits

with an authoritatively selfish demeanour, she suddenly

became downright kamikaze at anything that flew too

close to the vines even as the flowers acquiesced.

Hummingbirds—thankfully—tend to completely

ignore anything they don’t see as a threat, and so I didn’t

have to watch my head the way I do for the repugnantly

aggressive American kestrel that nests in the corner

of my office roof every year. But one mid-morning, a

passing male Bahama woodstar caught sight of the few

remaining purple bay-bean flowers and zoomed in for an

inspection. Diva must have heard his wing hum, because

she emerged in full Amazon warrior mode quite ready

to lance him through. The moment he saw her, he spiralled

upward behind me then dropped behind my head

by inches; I could feel his wing-paddled vortices puffing

against my neck and hear the low hum just beyond my

ears.

Diva Woodstar suddenly—for the first time ever—

took an interest in me. She flew accusingly at my face

and hovered a foot in front of my nose, glaring as she

darted left and right. Within a few seconds the interloping

male tried to peek around me (as evidenced by the buzz

and breeze near by right ear), and the jig was up. Diva

rocketed at him past my right temple, he tightly circled

around the back of my head and to the front, and both

twittering the entire time, she chased him in three full

circles around my head (I felt like a noggin-knocked cartoon

character) before he pulled up and careered over my

roof, sacrificing elegance for speed. Once she was sure

he was forever vanquished, she retired back to her nest

in the tangles, ignoring inconsequential me again, as a

woodstar should, forevermore. a

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 51


feature

The Turks & Caicos Islands are ready, willing and able to receive visitors again—and they are flocking to these beautiful shores!

Paradise Waiting

TCI’s reopening an unqualified success.

By Jayne Baker ~ Photos By Paradise Photography

It’s the morning of July 22, 2020. Just after noon, American Airlines is due to fly in the first visitors to our

shores since the borders closed four months prior.The mood on Providenciales is a muddled brew of optimism,

relief and caution. Aware of the dire need to re-open the Turks & Caicos Islands’ economic lifeline,

island businesses and tourism partners have worked tirelessly alongside local government to establish

protocols in the hope that visitors would feel safe visiting our shores again, all the while protecting the

health of the country, its residents and its valued visitors.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 53


Questions hung in the air as the plane descended.

Would the Islands see an overwhelming surge of cases by

allowing the borders to open? Would tourists even come?

While the need to open was vital, this small island nation

didn’t want to be a cautionary tale of what could happen

by allowing a stream of visitors back too soon. Limited

hospital facilities meant that the health system could

quickly become overwhelmed. The PDM Government at

the time, led by Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson,

alongside Governor Nigel Dakin, made it very clear:

Protocols could change quickly and they were ready to

take swift action to shut things down again should it be

necessary.

With the country somewhat holding its breath, AA

1279 touched down, complete with water-cannon fanfare,

and with that the Turks & Caicos Islands were open for

business.

Well, almost. A little more than a week after opening,

the TCI found itself in full-on preparation for a possible

visit by Hurricane Isaias. Thankfully the storm brushed by

to the south, but the irony of opening the airport only to

have Mother Nature close it down again a few days later

seemed apropos for 2020. As the tropical cyclone moved

off, the airport again re-opened and with it the economic

lifeline—tourist arrivals.

In recent years, visitor arrivals (by air) to Turks &

Caicos have been steadily increasing, growing from

416,000 in 2018 to 486,000 in 2019. 2020 had the makings

of a bumper crop. For the months of January and

February 2020, air arrivals totaled 95,810 versus 84,653

for the same period in 2019.

Then in March of 2020 the world stopped, and along

with it the only meaningful source of income for the Turks

& Caicos Islands Government and its residents. It was a

never-before-seen crisis, challenging for any nation, and

indeed the entire world, to navigate. Being a small island

country whose only industry is tourism, combined with

limited health care resources, the government had to

respond quickly but not rashly. As borders around the

world closed, the TCI Government came to the only sensible

decision at their disposal—the country shuttered for

business on March 23, 2020.

Initial lockdown restrictions for residents were strict

—beaches were closed, non-essential travel on the roads

was forbidden, exercise periods were specified, to name

a few. Over time, internal restrictions lifted somewhat,

allowing for local businesses to reopen with capacity limitations.

But without tourists, it was a mere drop in the

ocean (albeit a beautiful turquoise one). Entry protocols

for visitors were established in the hope that they were

stringent enough to mitigate risk, while not so prohibitive

they would discourage travelers.

Arrival numbers at first were predictably low.

According to arrival statistics published by the Turks &

Caicos Tourist Board, August 2020 saw 5,595 visitors

versus 36,550 in the same period of 2019, representing

about 15% of the previous year’s arrivals. As the months

passed, that percentage has consistently increased.The

months of September to November saw about 23% of

comparative 2019 arrivals. In December that number

jumped to 34%, seeing 17,241 visitors (versus 51,160 in

December 2019).

The cogs of the economy were slowly grinding back

to life as the page turned on a new year, welcoming in

2021. Not long into the new year however, following

trends in the neighboring US (where approximately 83%

of our tourists come from in a typical year), the Islands

saw a concerning surge in COVID-19 cases. It was a stark

reminder that although the Turks & Caicos had been

managing the crisis well, it was not time to let their guard

down. The virus still posed a threat to both the health of

the Islanders and the economy itself. The government

responded with fluctuating protocols, increasing restrictions

internally as needed to help curb local transmission

while still allowing tourists to come to our shores.

Amidst the surge, in February 2021, the Islands

went through a local election and change of government.

Changes in a ruling party can create an unsettled feeling

at the best of times and questions lingered: How

would this new government respond? Would restrictions

be tightened? Too much? Too little? One thing became

quickly evident—the new PNP Government, led by

Washington Misick, was as committed as its predecessor

in its efforts to balance the management of the virus

while still welcoming visitors.

The ready availability of vaccines was a large part of

what made it possible to keep the country open for business.

On January 7, 2021, courtesy of the UK Government,

a British Airways plane landed with precious cargo—9,750

doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The roll-out was immediate and impressively efficient.

While priority was initially given to those working

in health care and essential services, the vaccine quickly

became available to anyone wishing to receive it. Within

a short time, local clinics and pharmacies were offering

the vaccine with walk-in capabilities. Those receiving the

vaccine consistently reported being impressed with the

ease and professionalism of the process.

54 www.timespub.tc


February 24, 2021 saw the arrival of another 23,400

Pfizer-BioNTech doses via a special British Airways cargo

flight. That same plane carried CPAP machines and laboratory

supplies to support automation of the PCR testing

facility. A further 14,040 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and

300 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived March 31,

2021. The result was that frontline tourism partners

(resort, watersports, restaurant and spa staff) quickly

become fully vaccinated, allowing an added layer of comfort

and security to those visiting.

Combined with new data emerging daily regarding

vaccine efficacy, the potential of a more normal tourism

season seemed within reach. A recent Cleveland Clinic

study shows that between January 1 and April 13, 2021,

99.75 % of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were not

fully vaccinated.

Statistics out of Bermuda in April 2021 also echo the

importance and efficacy of the vaccine. Facing a surge of

COVID-19 cases in late spring, the island nation reported

that 88% of those admitted to hospital were unvaccinated,

11% were partially vaccinated (one shot) and 1% had both

shots but had not yet reached the two week mark when

a person is considered fully protected. But perhaps the

most important statistic is that there were ZERO cases of

a fully vaccinated person being hospitalized.

Like most countries, the vaccination surge in Turks &

Caicos slowed as time went on and the TCI Government

put considerable time and resources into outreach to the

communities where vaccine hesitancy was most prevalent.

Educational campaigns as well as a community

mobile vaccine unit have helped to increase the numbers

of vaccinations amongst those that may have otherwise

continued to live in fear and misinformation. At time of

writing (May 2021) it’s estimated that approximately 56%

of the population is vaccinated.

If there is a silver lining to be found in navigating

the pandemic, it may be that local hospital facilities have

been improved throughout the crisis. Hospital bed capacity

has increased, a National Laboratory now exists, as

well as the capability to generate oxygen at both Grand

Turk and Providenciales hospitals (versus using filled cylinders

only), meaning they have no fear of running out

of oxygen. These improvements, alongside vaccinations

and continued protocols, means the tourist season ahead

looks hopeful.

Island businesses echo that optimism. A local hotelier

reports that bookings for the 2021/22 season are not

only “back to normal” but have the potential to be record

breaking. An important factor in making that happen was

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 55


that resorts and health care facilities quickly stepped up

to provide the required COVID-10 antigen tests for US

visitors returning home. The establishment of convenient

and inexpensive testing was another component in making

the destination a viable and safe choice for travelers.

Other small businesses such as restaurants, watersports

operators and spas report a similar promising

outlook, seeing pre-pandemic numbers or better for the

future. The local real estate sector is reporting record

sales.

With all of this hopeful news, it’s an important

note that the cruise ship industry worldwide has been

decimated through the pandemic. In 2019, Grand Turk

welcomed 359 cruise ships, bringing with them 1,111,818

visitors and the associated income for the island’s residents

through jobs and small business opportunities. The

year 2020 saw only 69 cruise ship arrivals—representing

a little over 200,000 visitors. 2021 to date has seen zero.

The current estimate is that the industry won’t resume

until October 2021. So, while the island of Providenciales

is rebounding, Grand Turk and some of the sister islands

are still facing struggles.

Through it all the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board has

been working tirelessly with a new public relations firm

to promote the destination in feeder markets. The portal

for visitors to receive their travel authorization, found

at (www.turksandcaicostourism.com) was rolled out

seamlessly and response time is generally quick and

easy to receive the necessary approval to travel. The TCI

Government, even through a change of administration,

has proven its ability to manage a never-before-encountered

pandemic scenario while keeping the health of

both the Islands and its economy paramount. Their focus

appears to have remained unchanged throughout the

year: Make good decisions with the best information at

hand, be ready to adapt, and tell the world that Turks &

Caicos is ready to welcome you.

And that message appears to have been received,

loud and clear. A look at popular social media sites for

Turks & Caicos backs this up, providing the best source of

testimonials to the Islands’ recovery—its visitors. Recent

tourists consistently remark how easy it is to travel here,

and how impressed they are with local adherence to

COVID-19 protocols. Every now and then, questions pop

up on the forums such as, “Is it safe to visit? Should I

worry about traveling?” They are inevitably met with a

chorus of island praises but perhaps one traveler said

it best recently: “I just returned from a week stay, and

the people were as welcoming as the gorgeous turquoise

waters and white sand beaches. I can’t wait to go back.

If you’re considering a trip, don’t hesitate for a moment.

Book it now.” Paradise is waiting. a

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56 www.timespub.tc


eal estate

Opposite page: TCI’s pristine, uncrowded beaches are but one reason that people with the means are seeking to purchase an island hideaway

here in record numbers.

Above: This Amanyara resort villa, tucked away on Providenciales’ northwestern shore, is an example of the lovely, exclusive properties

available.

PROVO PICTURES—COURTESY TURKS & CAICOS SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

Hot, Hot, Hot!

TCI’s real estate market is on fire.

By Kathy Borsuk

There’s no doubt summer has arrived in the Turks & Caicos Islands. The somewhat-cooler days, low

humidity and slanted sunshine of winter and spring have given way to bright, hot days bookended by

lusciously pastel early mornings and long, tawny evenings. It’s prime time for watersports in the warm

turquoise sea and basking on the beach with a cool drink.

Also hot? The TCI real estate market! Property sales at all price points are ablaze as world-weary buyers

seek safety and solace in this quiet island nation.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 59


Besides the much-heralded natural beauty of the

Turks & Caicos Islands’ sparkling seas and sugary

beaches, the country has yet to be as densely populated

as many of her Caribbean sisters. Because serious development

of resorts and villas didn’t start until the turn of

the millennium, the TCI—and especially the out islands

—can still boast plenty of space for sprawling out. At the

same time, infrastructure from electricity to telecommunications,

airports to roads, is more than sufficient to

meet the needs of the 21st century.

As a British Overseas Territory, the TCI benefits from

a well-established land registry, stable political framework,

tax-free status, and more recently, the benefit of

receiving COVID-19 vaccines more quickly and in greater

number than many other warm-weather destinations. At

the same time, a cautious and thoughtful government

response to the pandemic (see “Paradise Waiting” in this

issue) has allowed the country to reopen safely when

many other vacation havens are still struggling.

The Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association (TCREA) is

a group of 15 independent real estate agencies who work

together under a managed Multiple Listing System (MLS)

accessed at www.tcrea.com. The industry compiles and

reports detailed statistics and the most recent are staggering.

At the close of the first quarter of 2021, the TCI

real estate market made history with nearly $128 million

in closed transactions—up 60% over the same period last

year, just prior to the pandemic and the country’s fourmonth

border closing in late March 2020. As reported by

TCREA in April 2021, there were also over $463 million

in pending and conditional transactions, not including

another potential $100 million in new development sales.

Whew! What is going on?

The first point is that ultra-luxury and luxury buyers

are flocking to TCI as a preferred destination. This is

evidenced in an average sale price (residential and commercial

market) of nearly $1.5 million in the first quarter

of 2021, a 63% increase! For single family homes, the

average price increased 38.5%, with a list to sell ratio of

92%. For condominiums, the average price jumped 31%

with a list to sell ratio of 93%. Residential and commercial

land average prices jumped 72%, as buyers searched

for vacant land—especially rare beachfront and waterfront—on

which to build. Currently, realtors report villa

price ranges from $2.5 million up to the $30 million level.

Condominium prices are also rising with luxury condos

approaching and surpassing $1,000 per square foot.

It’s clear that people with the means want to find a

safe, exclusive hideaway and TCI fits the bill. According

to Ivor Stanbrook, managing director of Windward

Development, the pandemic and successful reopening of

the country has introduced the market to a new group of

investors who may not have otherwise known about the

Turks & Caicos. They are finding a wider choice of properties

and better value here than in traditional Caribbean

markets like the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, along

with a sense of space and proximity to nature. Also flourishing

is the villa rental market, as an increasing number

of families choose to vacation in a private home or villa,

rather than a resort property. At the same time, owners

are using their properties for longer periods of time, as

the ability to work and learn from home becomes easier

and more accepted. Both factors are clearly driving the

booming real estate market in TCI.

While undeveloped beachfront properties in

Providenciales are nearly non-existent, you can still find

oceanside vacant land on the out islands of North, South

and Middle Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay. Inland on

Providenciales, the neighborhoods of Long Bay, Long Bay

Hills, Turtle Tail and Cooper Jack offer new villa construction

and land for a dream home. The longer-established

areas such as Chalk Sound, Turtle Cove, Thompson Cove,

Discovery Bay, The Bight and Leeward are already in the

phase of tearing down and rebuilding or renovating older

structures, with new construction tucked in between.

Amanyara (in the North West Point area of

Providenciales), Parrot Cay and Pine Cay, Ambergris Cay

and West Caicos are all exclusive areas somewhat separated

from the mainstream. They are punctuated with

celebrities, high-end villas and ultra-upscale amenities.

A recent interview by well-known US television personality

Star Jones with TCI Deputy Governor Anya Williams,

Minister of Tourism Josephine Connolly and local lawyer

Tremmaine Harvey, reinforced what many of the world’s

working women (and men) are declaring. They all enjoyed

the freedom and flexibility of working from home during

the pandemic! As this trend continues, TCI’s stable power

grid, maintained by Canadian-based Fortis TCI Ltd., and

excellent telecommunications service provided by Digicel

and FLOW, become tremendous advantages.

While commercial air service expands as the US and

global airlines loosen restrictions and travelers grow in

confidence, the TCI’s private airports have seen a massive

influx of private jets. This supports industry trends

noting a 50% increase in “new to private” travel since the

pandemic began. This reflects the desire to avoid exposure

to the virus and well as more schedule flexibility for

travelers.

60 www.timespub.tc


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According to Joe Zahm, president of Turks & Caicos

Sotheby’s International Realty, buyers are coming from

traditional hubs as well as the New York City tri-state area

and Ontario, Canada, along with a broader geographic

base including California, Texas, and the Midwest and

Southeast US. He says, “We’re also seeing ‘vacation relocation’

from harder to access places such as Hawaii,

Costa Rica and the southern Caribbean.”

Other advantages to a TCI lifestyle include 350 average

days of sunshine, modern hospitals and health care

practitioners, full service banks and temporary and permanent

residence status available to qualified investors.

There is a homeowner’s permit, valid for five years and

allowing recipients and their family members to come and

go as they wish (without the right to work). Purchasers

of any home or condominium valued over $300,000

can apply. With a real estate purchase over $1 million,

investors can apply for a Permanent Residence Certificate

(PRC), granting the applicant and spouse the right to

reside in TCI for life. Children can be endorsed until they

are 18 years old. The cost is a one-time government fee

of $25,000, plus $1,500 for spouse and $500 per child,

along with legal fees. PRC status can lead to TCI (British

Overseas Territory Citizenship) and, potentially, a British

passport. Note that foreigners also have the unrestricted

right to purchase property, and there are no real estate

taxes.

If you are planning to build or renovate, there are

many long established and well qualified local architects,

builders, contractors and tradesmen for any type of project

you can dream up. There is a quality skill pool from

which to draw and the work force comprises 50% of the

population.

Besides a record number of established homes, condominiums

and land transactions in progress, the TCI has

many new projects under development that will strongly

affect sales now and in the future. A quick read-through

of the expansive lists of features and amenities supports

the ever-growing demand for a second home or vacation

property in this country. Buyers will lack for nothing and

are sure to find a property to suit any taste and style.

Perhaps the most prominent, at 12 stories, is the

long-awaited Ritz-Carlton Residences due to open this

summer. This five-star property spans nearly 700 feet of

prime Grace Bay beachfront over 10.5 acres. According

to Walter Gardiner Jr., Director of Sales & Marketing for

the project, “It’s extremely gratifying to watch this dream

become a reality . . . The combination of having one of

the world’s best resort brands on the world’s best beach

62 www.timespub.tc


will solidify the position of the Turks & Caicos Islands

as the premier vacation and investment destination in

the Caribbean.” The resort features a luxury hotel, 60

residences, and world-class amenities managed by

renowned Ritz-Carlton, with service tailored to individual

desires—with “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and

gentlemen.” Oceanview residences are over 90% sold.

South Bank is a new residential resort and marina

community on the south side of Providenciales. Each

neighborhood and lot offers a unique relationship with

the water, designed to court boating enthusiasts and

watersports lovers. Covering 31 acres with 230 feet of

stunning beachfront along Long Bay Beach and 2,000

feet of picturesque ironshore, South Bank has planned

90 units ranging from six-bedroom villas to one-bedroom

condominiums and townhouses with boat docks.

Surrounding the fully excavated lagoon, six Lagoon

Villas are progressing and showing different stages of

completion, with all 18 Lagoon Villas starting works. The

Boathouses have an impressive 42% sold or reserved status

with construction slated to start on August 1, 2021.

In the Ocean Estate area, two villas are well underway,

with over half a dozen in early construction phases. This

community is now over 60% sold or reserved.

The Beach Enclave brand was designed to combine

a home environment with the services and amenities of

a condominium. These dream vacation homes combined

low density and floor plans that seamlessly blend indoor

with outdoor living spaces, with modern décor and fun

amenities. Launched on Provo’s North Shore in 2014, the

brand now spans five phases of development in three

locations.

To appeal to a broader market of home buyers,

Beach Enclave developers introduced The Club at Beach

Enclave Long Bay now with eight private Beach Houses

and a boutique condominium with just 24 hotel rooms,

The Club Residences. At the heart of The Club will be

a rooftop Wellness Spa, featuring elevated views of the

ocean backdrop, sunrises and sunsets. By the pool and

beach, will be a chic lounge as well as a casual, barefoot

beach bar. Other amenities include lighted tennis courts,

a fitness center, a yoga center, a kids’ club and in-house

watersports. Construction is slated to begin in December

2021.

Developers have also cleared ground for Phase 2 of

Beach Enclave North Shore. It features 10 exclusive two

to four-bedroom luxury beach and oceanview houses.

Only one beach house and four oceanview houses remain

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 63


available. Along with a dramatic limestone design feature,

this project will include an elevated oceanfront club

lounge, decks with water and fire features, an upgraded

fitness center and yoga deck, a lighted tennis court, kids

club and a unique garden teeming with fruit trees.

The Strand is the TCI’s newest residential resort

community overlooking the sapphire waters of Cooper

Jack Bay. This property features dramatic vistas with an

array of custom oceanfront residences, all with access

to shared community amenities. Currently in the early

development phase, visitors can now explore the site via

paths and multiple viewing areas. Infrastructure works

are underway and construction is anticipated to soon

start. Interestingly, The Strand developers are looking to

partner with a leader in solar home integration; it could

be the first such community in the Caribbean.

The developers of Latitude 22 broke ground in late

May for Karaya Blue. This private residential development

features six luxury villas, each on a private half acre

estate bursting with tropical foliage and minutes from the

Long Bay beachfront. It will also include a fully integrated

solar electrical system to be at the forefront of sustainable

development in TCI.

Sailrock is an evolving development on the country’s

fishing capital of South Caicos. The project won

the “Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island Resort” at the

2020 World Travel Awards. Sailrock Resort opened its

doors in January 2017 as the only five-star resort on

South Caicos, bringing a new level of luxury to the quiet

island, without disturbing its peaceful rhythms. Sailrock

includes 33 suites and villas spread over 52 hilltop and

oceanfront acres. Residences are supported by the Great

House, a central hub housing a lounge, oceanview deck

and upscale restaurant and bar. Investors looking for a

Caribbean home-away-from-home will find it in the Private

Peninsula Villas neighboring 770-acre enclave.

Recently resurrected for development is the Royal

Reef Resort at Sandy Point, North Caicos. This condominium/hotel

resort is located on 19 acres of beachfront

land with over 500 feet of beachfront, and will comprise

139 residential units and a 90-room hotel building and

spa on completion.

Realtors agree—NOW is the time to secure your safe

haven in paradise, as prices continue to rise and the

properties available become more scarce. They note that

many real estate offices offer the latest technology for virtual

showings. Looking to the future, the Turks & Caicos

Islands continue to strengthen and move to the next level

as a global luxury and tourism brand. a

64 www.timespub.tc


astrolabe

newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Front Street, PO Box 188, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands, BWI TKCA 1ZZ

tel 649 247 2160/US incoming 786 220 1159 • email info@tcmuseum.org • web www.tcmuseum.org

MICHAEL PATEMAN

This collage is a compilation of some of Dr. Michael Pateman’s memories as director of the Turks & Caicos National Museum.

Saying Goodbye . . . For Now

I am sad to say that this will be my last issue as editor of Astrolabe. Since I took on the responsibility, we

have shared many stories, including a series on the TCI during the World Wars, various adventures and

archaeological and filming projects, efforts to preserve TCI heritage and more. My experiences in the

Turks & Caicos have been life-changing and I will cherish all of my memories and relationships forged.

While I am saying goodbye as editor, you will still be able to follow some of my research and adventures.

I will continue to contribute articles to Astrolabe and I have joined the team of Bill Keegan and

Betsy Carlson in reviving “Talking Taino”. Thank you to all the contributors who submitted articles over

the last several years. I hope our readers and supporters have enjoyed them as much as I have!

In this edition, Marjorie Sadler discusses a plan created by the TCI’s first president (Frederick Forth)

through a historic map of Grand Turk. This story and more are included in the newly revised book, Turks

Islands Landfall, available in the museum gift shop. Lisa Turnbow-Talbot discusses “different” ways to

contribute to the museum. Do you have an artistic, historic or cultural research question or article you

would like to submit to Astrolabe? Contact us at info@tcmuseum.org. a

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

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 65


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF THE UK, C0 700/TURKS ISLANDS S3/3

This is the map of Grand Turk presented by President Forth to the Governor of Jamaica in 1849 to supplement his proposal to develop North

Creek as a “Harbour of Refuge.”

If Maps Could Talk . . .

Visualizing the Grand Turk of yesteryear.

Story and Images Courtesy Marjorie Sadler

In the final pages of H.E. Sadler’s book, Turks Islands Landfall, the author (my father) gives some history

of North Creek in Grand Turk which President Forth (served 1848–1854) believed was a huge asset to

the island simply awaiting development. Forth was the Turks & Caicos Islands’ first President under the

newly organized and quasi-self-governing Presidency following the Islands’ separation from the Bahamas

in 1848. While Forth proved quite unpopular with the local bureaucracy because of his autocratic manner,

he did have some innovative ideas to profit the Islands, although some were quite contentious at the time.

66 www.timespub.tc


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Foremost of these was his proposal to develop the

North Creek as a “Harbour of Refuge” to provide shelter

for small craft of the Islands, but also a safe harbour

for larger trading vessels, particularly salt cargoes. North

Creek is a large, beautiful and calm expanse of water

whose narrow entrance to the ocean was often blocked

by past storms.

Forth presented his ideas to the Governor of Jamaica,

Sir Charles Grey in November 1849, along with a Plan of

the Island, drawn up by Major E.C. Soden of the 2nd West

Indies Regiment, who had conducted a survey of Grand

Turk with particular reference to the site of the new lighthouse.

There was also a survey of the island’s reefs and

soundings taken by Captain Owen of the Royal Navy.

The Harbour of Refuge envisioned by the president

called for:

“A Civil Engineer of moderate ability . . . by a succession

of ‘Blasts’ properly directed and the subsequent

use of a diving bell, could in less than eighteen months .

. . with the assistance of 600 convicts 1 properly officered

lower the reef in front of the entrance into the Harbour

to a depth equal to the admission of the largest vessels

. . . Within the same period a sufficient channel could be

opened into the harbour . . .”

The resultant plan/map illustrating this project and

the rest of Grand Turk was found in the UK National

Archives and is shown here—first in its entirety, then in

four sections for easier viewing.

It is really a remarkable depiction of the island showing

in exquisite detail its elemental features. Forth’s

proposed harbour appears in the map section on the next

page. It illustrates that, once having opened up the channel,

a proper wharf could be constructed at the southern

end of the creek, and from that point a railway would link

it to the center of town across from the large Town Salina,

to its terminus at about where the old jail stood (Church

Folly and Lighthouse Road). Presumably, its proximity to

the largest salinas would facilitate the loading of salt cargoes

for outbound vessels from the new harbour.

It sounded like a grand, if ambitious project. Sadler

writes that “the Hydrographer of the Navy advised the

Crown against the proposed Harbour of Refuge as an

expensive and impractical scheme which ‘could not for

a moment be entertained.’” The plan was subsequently

rejected by the Colonial Office.

Ultimately, President Forth didn’t realize this dream.

But was it really so far-fetched? Traditionally, the loading

of salt onto vessels took place in the town’s open road-

1

Forth’s proposal to use convicts for this and other development schemes was due to the lack of sufficient labour in Grand Turk to carry out large

projects, but the controversial plan incurred the anger of many establishment figures and the general population who refused to countenance the

idea of imported criminals living amongst them.

MARINAS.COM

This aerial view shows North Creek’s large expanse of calm water, along with its narrow entrance to the ocean.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 67


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

stead 2 , a circumstance not

without danger to vessels

in stormy weather. It was

extremely labour intensive

in offloading cargo

and loading salt, requiring

the use of multiple

small lighters and at times

taking several days to

complete a load. Against

this, Forth’s harbour and

rail line seems like it could

have saved an immense

amount of time, labour

and expense. Forth’s successor,

President Inglis,

also saw the wisdom of the

Harbour of Refuge and ten

years later in 1859, was

pushing a proposal from

an American investor:

“This project . . . is

proposed to be effected

by means of a ship canal,

entering into the creek to

be combined with marine

and other railways, for the

repairs of shipping and

conveyance of salt, would

prove the means of rendering

the Turks Islands,

from the central position

they occupy as regards the

West Indies . . . An important

commercial depot and

coaling station for steamers.

. . . Where a fleet could lie moored as in a dock,

which it is, of nature’s handiwork—containing sufficient

water for any class of merchant vessels and most men of

war . . .”

This section of the map shows the projected lighthouse and its location, the proposed channel into North

Creek and a wharf at the southern end of the creek. The inset depicts several of the shipwrecks found on

the Northeast Reef.

The project favoured by Inglis did not come to fruition

due to the American Civil War and the investor’s

inability to secure financing. But it had the potential of

making Grand Turk a hub for West Indies shipping and

who knows, may even have recaptured its status as the

Caribbean coaling station for steamers which was lost

to the island of St. Thomas after the fateful wreck of the

RM Medina in 1842. North Creek languished thereafter

until the 1980s when another project for its development

as a yachting haven for Caribbean cruising vessels was

begun but terminated after a few years due to differences

between the developers and the local government. The

corroding remains of that project’s machinery and elaborate

equipment remain part of the landscape at North

Creek even to this day.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF THE UK, C0 700/TURKS ISLANDS S3/3

2

The perils encountered by several vessels in the Roadstead are described in the book’s “Open Roadstead” section.

68 www.timespub.tc


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Returning to President Forth and this remarkable

map—his other important objective in completing this

survey was to finally secure British approval and funding

for a modern, functional lighthouse for the northeast end

of Grand Turk. It’s no secret that many ships met their

demise on the island’s treacherous Northeast Reef, due

largely to the inefficiency of the antiquated lighthouse

then, described by Forth as “a miserable weather boarded

structure—30' high.” 3 He was quick to blame the disastrous

loss of the important mail steamer, RM Medina,

on the lack of a proper lighthouse. (Many of these shipwrecks

on the Northeast Reef are documented in the

Turks Islands Landfall chapter on shipwrecks.)

Happily, the president achieved that objective and

Sadler states that:

“President Forth must be given credit for securing the

erection of the first modern lighthouse at Grand Turk in

the year 1852 . . . This action saved the salt trade since,

because of the perils of navigation, vessels had been

refusing to call for salt cargoes.”

Detail in the map on the opposite page shows the

artist’s rendition of the proposed lighthouse, in the location

where it stands today. Just northeast of the proposed

structure is shown the location of several shipwrecks

which had been found by the Royal Navy’s Captain Owen

and his crew while surveying the reefs; these were some

of the most noteworthy wrecks in 1849 and earlier.

Looking closely, or using a magnifier, one can see: the RM

Medina (1842), Sturdy Oak (1849), Susan Currier (1849),

Columbus (1847), Schooner Banner (1849), General

Coffin (1842) and others un-named or indecipherable.

Owen would naturally have found only a smattering of the

wrecks which had transpired on that reef—those whose

remains were still visible at the time of the survey. But

these findings and local knowledge of many others were

sufficient to bolster President Forth’s case that the time

had come for a modern lighthouse.

What of the other areas on the island depicted in

Forth’s Plan? See the smart grid layout of Cockburn

Town on the following page. There one can see Queen

Square (as it was then called) running from Pond Street

to the Front Street Waterfront, with a building marked

the original jail, which was destroyed in the 1866

hurricane, but rebuilt later in more or less the same location.

The Victoria Public Library was later to be placed

The Grand Turk Lighthouse of today is quite different from the “old

lantern mounted on a pole” described by President Forth.

at this Square in 1889, so is not shown on the plan. The

Customs House on the waterfront is noted, so is the town

wharf, the streets and buildings in the north, south and

east suburbs, the saltwater canals feeding the salina reservoirs

(which are all still there today) and the vast areas

of salt ponds.

You can see the large Town Salina, in the center of

which is the little island called the old Burial Ground,

where paupers, sick and the contagious were buried.

Crossing Church Folly led to St. Thomas’ Church, built

of Bermuda stone in 1822, the island’s oldest church,

still standing and in use; next is the Mathew Tank, built

around 1845–6 and named after Governor Mathew

of the Bahamas, who visited the Islands prior to their

divorce from the Bahamas and eventually sympathized

with the Islanders’ pleas for the political separation.

The tank remains the largest water catchment on the

island. Depicted also are the Baptist Church, the original

Methodist Chapel on Red Salina, and the Parade Ground

—all of which remain exactly where they are today.

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

3

This was lit by 12 ordinary tallow candles without any reflectors. Before this structure there had only been an old lantern mounted on a pole.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 69


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Looking up towards the

southeastern side of Grand

Turk sits South Creek and at

its mouth Columbus Island—

directly facing Gibb’s Cay.

(See map at top of opposite

page.) At left is the high

ground at Matherson’s Point.

It was here, Sadler writes,

where Columbus approached

in his longboat after anchoring

the fleet in the nearby

sheltered harbour of Hawkes’

Nest. Little Columbus Island,

Gibb’s Cay, Matherson’s

Point and land beyond on

that high ridge overlooking

the eastern shore were part

of George Gibbs’ landholdings.

Gibbs was an important

figure in the island’s legislature.

He was also a noted

historian, and vocal proponent

of Columbus’s landfall

at Grand Turk.

This map pinpoints the

Gun Hill fortification built in

1791, when there was tension

over a feared French

invasion from Hispaniola.

Notice also the old plantation

near the Hawk’s Nest

Salina. The bottom map

on the opposite page (SW

Detail) shows the Hawes

Salina; also, the plantation of

James Misick and his house

“Waterloo” built around 1815

to commemorate the famous

battle. The property was later

acquired by the government

as the official residence for

the president and sits facing

the famous anchorage of

“Riding Ground,” location of

Governor’s Beach.

Above: This section of the map shows the southern half of Grand Turk, with inset details of the Town

Center and other notable landmarks of Cockburn Town.

Below: Built around 1845–6, Mathew Tank remains the largest water catchment on Grand Turk.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF THE UK, C0 700/TURKS ISLANDS S3/3

70 www.timespub.tc


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Many more historic

landmarks and areas are

depicted here for those

who have the eyes and

patience to peruse. It’s a

marvelous work of art, of

utmost historic interest,

but more vitally, a unique

pictorial record of Grand

Turk as it was nearly

200 years ago. The modern-day

similarities are

fascinating. a

As a postcript, I am

indebted to the late Terry

Richardson, a friend

from Grand Turk and

Providenciales, retired

surveyor and avid follower

of Turks Islands

history, who discovered

this invaluable relic in

the UK National Archives

years ago, and kindly

brought it to my attention

while I was editing this latest

edition of my father’s

book. The UK National

Archives have granted

permission for its publication

in the book Turks

Islands Landfall.

Above: Side B, SE Detail shows South Creek, the little island at its mouth (Columbus Island), and Gibbs Cay,

with Matherson’s Point on the left peninsula and Gun Hill on the right with its fortifications. See, too, St.

Thomas’s Church and Mathew Tank off to the left.

Bottom: Side B, SW Detail shows the Riding Ground anchorage, across from Waterloo, which was later

acquired as the official Presidential Residence.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF THE UK, C0 700/TURKS ISLANDS S3/3

This beautiful sunset took place near the mouth of North Creek in Grand Turk.

JAMES ROY—PARADISE PHOTOGRAPHY

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 71


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

This collage is just a small sampling of the photos donated to the Turks & Caicos National Museum by Barbara Currie Dailey. They represent

festivals, events and the general lifestyle on Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay during the late 1970s.

What’s Hiding in

Your Closet?

Donations are the lifeblood of the National Museum.

Story & Photo Collages By Lisa Turnbow-Talbot

Everyone knows that non-profit organizations rely on monetary donations, but for the Turks & Caicos

National Museum that is not the only donation that matters. Gifts-in-kind of photographs, videotapes,

books, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, historical objects, business records, organization records, government

records and oral histories are all important in documenting history and culture through the years.

72 www.timespub.tc


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

This collage is a sampling of images donated by Moira and Alan Bishop, who spent time on Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay during the

1960s and 1970s.

Photographs are perhaps the most common and

currently, the easiest way of documenting history. While

photos of prominent places and famous people are commonplace,

it is often those photos of everyday people in

their element that truly capture our cultural history. The

lifestyles of people working, socializing, celebrating and

spending time with their families are all part of a country’s

culture.

When you look at a photo, it brings that particular

time in history to life. Wall carvings and paintings

throughout the world are the photographs of their time.

A great deal of what we know about many ancient cultures

is derived from those etchings.

What’s hiding in your closet that may be of historical

value? Many of us may remember sorting through boxes

of photographs left by family members after they passed

or when cleaning out closets. Photos are now more likely

to be stored on a phone or online, but you may still find

older items stashed away in Grandma’s shoe box.

The culture and how people lived even between the

Islands in the Turks & Caicos varied widely. This article

focuses on photos from some of our collections and the

people who donated them. As there are too many to list

them all, this is just a small sample of those who have

contributed to recording the history of the Turks & Caicos

in photographs.

Barbara Currie Dailey donated a large collection

(over 1,000 photographs) taken in the late 1970s. Her

photos represent festivals, events and the general lifestyle

on Grand Turk, South Caicos and Providenciales. It

was difficult to choose which of her photos to highlight

as there are so many valuable images.

Moira and Alan Bishop spent time on Grand Turk,

South Caicos and Salt Cay during the 1960s and 1970s.

In addition to over 300 photos, they also donated a collection

of postcards.

We often have military persons who were based on

Grand Turk or South Caicos in the past return for visits

and donate various items from their time spent on

the island. One of our largest collections of photographs

was donated by Ted Philippona. He was stationed

on Grand Turk from 1954 to 1968. His collection contains

over 600 photos and several videos of Grand Turk,

Salt Cay and South Caicos. He captures “true life” from

the mid-1950s to the late 1960s—the faces of children

playing and people working and living everyday life. His

collection provided us with some of the only photographs

from John Glenn’s landing in 1964 and the Mercury

Friendship 7 being loaded from the dock and taken to

the airport on Grand Turk.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 73


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Ted Philippona was stationed on Grand Turk from 1954 to 1968. This collage is a sampling of his “true life” images.

Art St. John served as the commanding officer of

“Waldo II,” the temporary US Coast Guard LORAN station

set up in the old Navy Base at the north end of Grand

Turk. He lived in Guinep House, which is now the Turks &

Caicos National Museum. He donated 150 digital copies

of photos he took from 1957 to 1958.

There are many others who have provided us with

photos over the years, including Peter Bleackley, Charles

Bliley, Bengt Soderqvist, JR McCollum and Kim Ludington.

We encourage you to look through your own photos

taken in past visits to the Islands and share them with

the museum. Yet photographs are not the only items that

have been donated over the years. In our archives we

have pottery sherds, Lucayan stones and beads, newsletters

from the Navy bases, legislative records, church

records, postcards, paintings and more.

What special item from history do you have stored

away in a drawer or storage container? The museum has

interest in photos and objects that reflect any part or era

of our history. It does not matter if you have one or 1,000

items of interest—sometimes that one photo can reflect

an immeasurable part of history.

74 www.timespub.tc


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Top: This Art St. John collage reflects the time he served as commanding officer of the US Coast Guard station on Grand Turk from 1957 to

1958. Bottom: This collage is a sampling of the photos from the many others—including Peter Bleackley, Charles Bliley, Bengt Soderqvist, JR

McCollum and Kim Ludington—who have provided photos to the museum over the years.

We are a small museum and we make it fairly simple

to donate. The biggest challenge is usually getting the

items here if they are not already in the Islands. This is

another advantage of photographs, as they can easily be

scanned or downloaded and submitted to us digitally.

There are a few things to know regarding your

donations:

• Not all items are included in an exhibit or put on display.

Items that are not on display are kept in our secure

and climate-controlled archives located in the Science

Building on Grand Turk. If not used right away, your

donation could be used in future exhibits, publication

articles, educational materials or by researchers.

• We are not able to appraise items.

• Once the donation is made, the items become the

property of the museum. You will receive a Deed of Gift

that legally transfers the ownership to the museum.

• If you request recognition, we can acknowledge you for

the donation if used in any way.

(CONTINUED ON BOTTOM OF NEXT PAGE)

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 75


astrolabe newsletter of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

Museum Matters

New opening hours

The Grand Turk Museum is now open every Tuesday

and Thursday from 10 AM to 3 PM. No appointment is

necessary for these days. Special arrangements can be

requested for large groups and we will try to accommodate

any request.

The Providenciales Museum reopened on May 1,

2021 after being closed in March 2020 to comply with

the COVID-19 shutdown. Thanks to the assistance of

several volunteers, we are able to be open from 10

AM to 2 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and

Saturday. We were pleased to have HE Governor Nigel

Dakin and his wife attend the reopening, along with

several other hotel representatives and guests. We look

forward to continuing to improve and expand here.

Everyone is encouraged to visit the National Museum

at either location and learn about the history and culture

of the Turks & Caicos Islands. a

New items in the gift shop

The gift shop at both museum locations is proud to

offer the new edition of Turks Islands Landfall. This

new and expanded second edition preserves all of the

author’s original work published in the 1997 edition,

but contains much new research and material. Marjorie

Sadler, daughter of author H.E. Sadler, has released this

updated 434-page hardcover book with color and black

and white photographs and illustrations.

We’re also selling copies of Historic South Caicos.

This is a strikingly illustrated book with full-length,

full-color historical overviews,

anecdotes, illustrations and

archival photographs of the

island and its stunning surroundings.

The 430-page

hardcover is authored by Dr.

Christian J. Buys.

Other books we carry about

the history of the Turks &

Caicos Islands include Stories

from Around the Islands by

Candy Herwin; Coming in for

a Landing by Embry Rucker; and Looking Back in Salt

Cay by Patronella A. Been.

For children we can’t forget the lovable story, Where

is Simon, Sandy?. Written by author Donna Seim, this

book tells a folktale that had been passed down by word

of mouth for generations. It was recently released in a

Spanish version. All proceeds from the sale of this book

go to the Turks & Caicos National Museum Children’s

Club. This story, as well as Donna’s other books including

Hurricane Mia and Satchi and Little Star, bring to

life the charm of the Islands and their people.

These books make great gifts, coffee table books,

and additions to vacation rental villas and condominiums,

providing enjoyable reading that increases

knowledge of the Turks & Caicos Islands. a

Story & Photos By Lisa Turnbow-Talbot

(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE)

• The more information you can provide about

the item helps us to evaluate how we can use and

document it. Information such as “who, what, when

and where” are essential for the educational and

research value of your donation.

If you have items that you wish to donate,

please email us at info@tcmuseum.org. a

All photos in this article are the property of the

Turks & Caicos National Museum and any duplication

or reproduction without the expressed written

permission of the Turks & Caicos National Museum

is prohibited.

76 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 43,000.

Getting here

There are international airports on Grand Turk,

Providenciales, and South Caicos, with domestic airports

on all of the islands except East Caicos.

The TCI is requiring a negative COVID-19 PCR

test result from a test taken within five days of travel.

(Children under the age of 10 are not required to be

tested.) Additionally, travellers must have medical/travel

insurance that covers medevac, a completed health

screening questionnaire, and certification that they have

read and agreed to the privacy policy document. These

requirements must be completed and uploaded to the

TCI Assured portal, which is available on the TCI Tourist

Board website (www.turksandcaicostourism.com), in

advance of their arrival.

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 77


The TCI has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity in

response to testing requirements implemented for travellers

entering the United States and Canada. Many resorts

offer on-site testing, along with numerous local health

practitioners.

Language

English.

Time zone

Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time

observed.

Currency

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.

Climate

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.

Transportation

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.

Telecommunications

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

78 www.timespub.tc


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.

Electricity

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 your airline ticket cost.

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 colorful stamp issues.

Media

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

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

Food for Thought provides free daily

breakfast to government school students.

A donation of $300 will provide breakfast

to one child for a whole school year.

To donate or learn more please

email info@foodforthoughttci.com

or visit foodforthoughttci.com

Food for Thought Foundation Inc. (NP #102)

Times of the Islands Summer 2021 79


the country, and there is a recompression chamber, along

with a number of private pharmacies.

Immigration

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.

Hon. Charles Washington Misick is the country’s new premier,

leading a majority Progressive National Party (PNP)

House of Assembly.

The legal system is based upon English Common

Law and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief

Magistrate, and Deputy Magistrates. Judges of the Court

of Appeal visit the Islands twice a year and there is a final

Right of Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.

Taxes

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.

Economy

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.

People

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

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.

Pets

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.

bahamensis). The National Costume consists of white cotton

dresses tied at the waist for women and simple shirts

and loose pants for men, with straw hats. Colors representing

the various islands are displayed on the sleeves

and bases. The National Song is “This Land of Ours” by

the late Rev. E.C. Howell, PhD. Peas and Hominy (Grits)

with Dry Conch is revered as symbolic island fare.

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.

Recreation

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.

80 www.timespub.tc


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

services.

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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Times of the Islands Summer 2021 81


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WE ARE LEADING THE CHANGE

FOR A NEW ENERGY FUTURE

Our executive team: (L-r) Senior Vice President of Operations Devon Cox; Vice President of Corporate

Services and CFO Aisha Laporte; President and CEO Ruth Forbes; Vice President of Grand Turk and

Sister Island Operations Allan Robinson; Vice President of Innovation, Technology and Strategic Planning

Rachell Roullet and Vice President of Engineering and Energy Production and Delivery Don Forsyth

The energy landscape is changing.

And at FortisTCI, we are leading the transition to cleaner energy with

innovative solutions, and the highest level of service to customers.

With sustainability as a guiding principle, we are strategically investing

in new technologies, people and processes to deliver least-cost, reliable,

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economy moving forward.

At FortisTCI, we are powered by a team of energy experts, who are proud

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