Times of the Islands Winter 2021-22

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.

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.

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TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS WINTER <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> NO. 137<br />



Building Blue Horizon Resort<br />


A tour <strong>of</strong> TCI dive sites<br />


Why is it so important?

Comfort Food Just Went A-list.<br />

If your idea <strong>of</strong> comfort feels like<br />

cashmere, you will find its culinary<br />

equivalent at Almond Tree,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Shore Club’s deliciously<br />

decadent new eatery.<br />

Golden, crusty wood-fired pizza.<br />

Savory skillets, bubbling over with flavor<br />

and just oozing with temptation.<br />

Salads and sides that give new meaning<br />

to <strong>the</strong> word “indulgence.”<br />

These days, we’re all hungry<br />

for contentment and satisfaction.<br />

Almond Tree at <strong>the</strong> Shore Club<br />

simply takes it to a whole new level.<br />

Reservations 649 339 8000<br />

<strong>the</strong>shoreclubtc.com<br />



Dinner 6 –10:30pm<br />

5pm – Midnight




23<br />




Key West Italian<br />

1. Village 2. Village<br />

3. Caribbean<br />

Village<br />

4. French<br />

Village<br />

5. Seaside<br />

Village<br />

TM/© <strong>2021</strong> Sesame Workshop<br />


Unlimited fun and entertainment is all-included<br />

at Beaches® Turks & Caicos. And now with our<br />

Platinum Protocol <strong>of</strong> Cleanliness, our already<br />

industry-leading safety and health practices are<br />

even more enhanced, guaranteeing <strong>the</strong> peace <strong>of</strong><br />

mind you need to enjoy your time with us. Stay at<br />

one village and play at all five choosing from every<br />

land and water sport imaginable, an awe-inspiring<br />

waterpark with a SurfStream® surf simulator, or simply just splash,<br />

swim and sip <strong>the</strong> day away with new friends at a sparkling swim-up<br />

pool bar. Pamper yourself in a world <strong>of</strong> tranquility at our Caribbeaninspired<br />

Red Lane® Spa and <strong>the</strong>n enjoy an all-included feast at one <strong>of</strong><br />

21 incredible 5-Star Global Gourmet restaurants and enjoy non-stop<br />

bars and entertainment all for <strong>the</strong> price <strong>of</strong> one vacation. With all <strong>of</strong> this<br />

activity at your fingertips, it’s no wonder Beaches Turks & Caicos has<br />

held <strong>the</strong> top spot at <strong>the</strong> World Travel Awards for over two decades.<br />


@beachesresorts<br />



*Visit www.beaches.com/disclaimers/times<strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>islandsspring<strong>2021</strong> or call 1-800-BEACHES for important terms and<br />

conditions. Beaches ® is a registered trademark. Unique Vacations, Inc. is an affiliate <strong>of</strong> Unique Travel Corp., <strong>the</strong> worldwide<br />

representative <strong>of</strong> Beaches Resorts.

contents<br />

Departments<br />

6 From <strong>the</strong> Editor<br />

17 Getting to Know<br />

Lindsay Gardiner<br />

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photo By Tom Rathgeb<br />

<strong>22</strong> Eye on <strong>the</strong> Sky — Global Warming<br />

A Ripple Effect<br />

By Paul Wilkerson<br />

28 Talking Taíno<br />

Clear as Mud<br />

By Emily Kracht and Lindsay Block with<br />

Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson and Michael Pateman<br />

66 Around <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Lights, Camera, Action!<br />

By Mat<strong>the</strong>w Matlack<br />

76 About <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>/TCI Map<br />

80 Subscription Form<br />

82 Classified Ads<br />

Features<br />

35 Middle Caicos Pioneers<br />

By Michael and Mikki Witt<br />

46 Treasures on <strong>the</strong> Reef<br />

By Kelly Currington<br />

Green Pages<br />

55 Food for Thought . . . Not Iguanas<br />

By Devyn Hannon, Jacqui Taff, Sedona Stone,<br />

Maddie Adkison, Lily Finn, Amber Johnson,<br />

Abbey Stewart, Luke Monteiro, Kerry Bresnahan<br />

and Morgan Karns ~ Edited by Julia Locke, SFS<br />

59 RumPowered Research<br />

By Alizee Zimmermann and Don Stark, TCRF<br />

Photos By Patricia Guardiola<br />

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />


SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS WINTER <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> NO. 137<br />

On <strong>the</strong> Cover<br />

Marta Morton, our go-to photographer for all things naturally<br />

beautiful in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, captured<br />

this peaceful scene overlooking Dragon Cay on Middle<br />

Caicos. You can read more about <strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> resort<br />

development <strong>the</strong>re on page 35. For more <strong>of</strong> Marta’s<br />

breathtaking images, visit www.harbourclubvillas.com.<br />

62 TCI Coastal Culture Values<br />

By Oshin Whyte<br />

Astrolabe<br />

70 Island Visionary<br />

By Dr. Carlton Mills<br />

35<br />


4 www.timespub.tc

TurksAndCaicosProperty.com<br />

Mandalay Estate, Long Bay Beachfront<br />

Nestled along coveted Long Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, Mandalay Estate <strong>of</strong>fers a discerning<br />

buyer an idyllic private retreat with over 200 ft. <strong>of</strong> pristine, white sandy beach and brilliant turquoise<br />

waters. Mandalay features 7 bedrooms and an award-winning architectural design capturing <strong>the</strong> essence<br />

<strong>of</strong> open Caribbean living with a masterful layout that revolves around <strong>the</strong> spectacular multi-level pool.<br />

US$13,900,000<br />

Bernadette Hunt<br />

Cell ~ 649 231 4029 | Tel ~ 649 941 3361<br />

Bernadette@TurksAndCaicosProperty.com<br />

Bernadette has lived in <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> for over 21 years and witnessed <strong>the</strong><br />

development and transition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands<br />

into a significant tourist destination. Based<br />

on independent figures her gross transaction<br />

numbers are unrivalled. Bernadette<br />

has listings on Providenciales, Pine Cay,<br />

Ambergris Cay, North and Middle Caicos<br />

and is delighted to work with sellers and<br />

buyers <strong>of</strong> homes, condos, commercial real<br />

estate and vacant undeveloped sites.<br />

Grace Bay Commercial Property<br />

Grace Bay commercial property consisting <strong>of</strong> 2 large vacant lots (parcel 96 & 97) with a total <strong>of</strong> 1.85<br />

acres in <strong>the</strong> heart <strong>of</strong> Grace Bay; <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>’ top tourist area. Situated just behind Grace<br />

Bay Road and <strong>the</strong> Bella Luna Restaurant and about a 3 minute walk away from <strong>the</strong> new Ritz Carlton on<br />

Grace Bay Beach.<br />

Price Upon Request<br />

Turks and Caicos Property is <strong>the</strong> leading<br />

independent real estate firm in <strong>the</strong> Turks and<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> with <strong>of</strong>fices located at Ocean<br />

Club West Resort and Ocean Club West<br />

Plaza on <strong>the</strong> Grace Bay Road.<br />

Bernadette’s reputation and success has been<br />

earned over time through her dedication,<br />

enthusiasm and passion for real estate. Her<br />

personal experience as having practiced law<br />

in <strong>the</strong> islands for more than 10 years toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

with owning and renovating a number <strong>of</strong><br />

properties means she is well-placed to advise<br />

her customers and developers on what to<br />

anticipate in <strong>the</strong> purchasing and construction<br />

process.<br />

Bernadette delights in working in <strong>the</strong> real<br />

estate industry and her humor and energy<br />

make her a pleasure to work with.<br />

Seven Stars 3 Bedroom Condo, Grace Bay Beachfront<br />

Beachfront suite 1506/07 at <strong>the</strong> Seven Stars is a recently renovated 2,873 sq. ft. stunning residence<br />

located in <strong>the</strong> Alhena Building on <strong>the</strong> 5th floor providing unobstructed panoramic views <strong>of</strong> spectacular<br />

Grace Bay Beach. An excellent income generator in <strong>the</strong> very successful Seven Stars resort rental<br />

program.<br />

US$3,500,000<br />

Please contact Bernadette if you would like<br />

to find out more about owning real estate in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.

from <strong>the</strong> editor<br />


Although now fronted by multi-million dollar villas, <strong>the</strong> view below <strong>the</strong> water at Providenciales’ iconic Smith’s Reef in late 1980 is among my<br />

favorite memories <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Nostalgia<br />

The dictionary defines nostalgia as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for <strong>the</strong> past, typically for a period or<br />

place with happy personal associations.” Perhaps it’s my age or <strong>the</strong> effects <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> COVID pandemic, but I find myself<br />

steeped in nostalgia <strong>the</strong>se days. I think I am becoming one <strong>of</strong> those “old timers” who wax eloquent about “<strong>the</strong> good<br />

old days.” I remember meeting such folks when I first came to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos 30 years ago—as a young, fresh<br />

editor totally enamoured <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se <strong>Islands</strong>. When I read articles like this issue’s “Middle Caicos Pioneers,” it’s odd to<br />

realize that I was <strong>the</strong>re when that was happening! And I had written many articles about what took place!<br />

As Providenciales, especially, seems to be in <strong>the</strong> midst <strong>of</strong> “Development Boom 3.0,” I empathize with <strong>the</strong> interviewees<br />

<strong>of</strong> Oshin Whyte’s study on cultural values and coastal heritage. This country’s stunning, clean, uncrowded<br />

beaches, bush and seascapes are important to keep us all centered and grounded. And once again, I feel blessed<br />

with my purpose <strong>of</strong> documenting <strong>the</strong> TCI’s amazing natural wonders and rich cultural heritage through <strong>the</strong> pages <strong>of</strong><br />

this magazine. I can’t think <strong>of</strong> anything I would ra<strong>the</strong>r do with my life.<br />

Nostalgia is sweet, but deceiving when it tends to downplay <strong>the</strong> good things that are ahead. When you read Mat<br />

Matlack’s description <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos International Film Festival, we can realize that <strong>the</strong> young “up and comers”<br />

<strong>of</strong> TCI society care about <strong>the</strong> same things we do—including <strong>the</strong> preservation <strong>of</strong> our precious planet and this “Beautiful<br />

by Nature” Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

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

6 www.timespub.tc

Only select 1, 2 or 3 bedroom<br />

units remain available.<br />

Construction is underway<br />

Prices starting from low $1m’s<br />

Register interest today at<br />

livesouthbank.com<br />

For more information contact<br />

Nina Siegenthaler at 649.231.0707<br />

Joe Zahm at 649.231.6188<br />

or email: nina@tcso<strong>the</strong>bysrealty.com<br />

The Boathouses, set around a landscaped park and pool, <strong>of</strong>fer a vibrant village-style<br />

atmosphere on <strong>the</strong> marina waterfront. Every residence has a private boat dock <strong>of</strong>fering<br />

instant access to life on <strong>the</strong> water, with peaceful terraces to enjoy sunsets over Juba Sound.<br />

Developed by Windward: www.windward.tc<br />

Managed by:<br />

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Ministries <strong>of</strong> Health in each country we call home. We<br />

have dedicated Quality Inspection Teams and environmental<br />

health and safety managers at all <strong>of</strong> our resorts to make<br />

sure every procedure is in place to protect every guest and<br />

team member. That even extends to our supply chain. Our<br />

resorts have always been equipped with full-service<br />

medical stations staffed daily with a registered nurse<br />

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

<strong>the</strong>se facilities to include <strong>the</strong> appropriate equipment<br />

and supplies needed to address new protocols. So you<br />

can book your next stay with us knowing that Beaches has<br />

always been <strong>the</strong> brand you can trust, and always will be.<br />


Or Call Your Travel Advisor<br />

@beachesresorts<br />

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



IAN.HURDLE@THEAGENCYRE.COM 649.332.2612 @caribb.ian<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> top agents serving <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos luxury markets,<br />

Ian Hurdle brings more than 25 years <strong>of</strong> experience in <strong>the</strong> real estate,<br />

construction, property management, and hospitality industries to his<br />

role as Founder and Director <strong>of</strong> The Agency’s Turks and Caicos <strong>of</strong>fice.<br />

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skills, and superior, white-glove service, real estate isn’t simply a job for<br />

Ian, it’s a passion.



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TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />



Kathy Borsuk<br />


Claire Parrish<br />


Maddie Adkison, Dr. Lindsay Bloch, Kathy Borsuk,<br />

Kerry Bresnahan, Dr. Betsy Carlson, Kelly Currington,<br />

Lily Finn, Devyn Hannon, Amber Johnson, Morgan Karns,<br />

Dr. Bill Keegan, Emily Kracht, Julia Locke, Mat<strong>the</strong>w Matlack,<br />

Dr. Carlton Mills, Luke Monteiro, Dr. Michael P. Pateman,<br />

Jody Rathgeb, Don Stark, Abbey Stewart, Sedona Stone,<br />

Jacqui Taff, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot, Oshin Whyte,<br />

Paul Wilkerson, Michael and Mikki Witt,<br />

Alizee Zimmermann.<br />


Lindsay Bloch, Eric Carlander, Kelly Currington, Lily Finn,<br />

Patricia Guardiola, Devyn Hannon,<br />

Gary James–Provo Pictures, Magnetic Media,<br />

Mat<strong>the</strong>w Matlack, Robert Metcalfe,<br />

Marta Morton, Michael Morton, NASA, Leland Neff,<br />

Carlos Pita, Tom Rathgeb, Shutterstock,<br />

Turks & Caicos National Museum, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot,<br />

Matt Weedon, Michael and Mikki Witt.<br />


Merald Clark, Wavey Line Publishing.<br />


PF Solutions, Miami, FL<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> ISSN 1017-6853 is<br />

published quarterly by <strong>Times</strong> Publications Ltd.<br />

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16 www.timespub.tc

getting to know<br />

These days, Lindsay Gardiner can be found behind <strong>the</strong> desk at Caicos Cruisin’,<br />

at Walkin Marina at <strong>the</strong> far eastern end <strong>of</strong> Providenciales.<br />

The Travelin’ Man<br />

Who Didn’t Travel<br />

Lindsay Gardiner<br />

By Jody Rathgeb ~ Photo By Tom Rathgeb<br />

He was always <strong>the</strong>re. In <strong>the</strong> 1990s and early 2000s, you never had to look far for Lindsay Gardiner. It<br />

seemed he never left his spot at Provo airport, behind <strong>the</strong> desk <strong>of</strong> Global Airways. His was <strong>the</strong> face <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> air charter company, a welcome sight for travelers headed to North Caicos for vacation or Islanders<br />

looking for a ride back after a day <strong>of</strong> banking, shopping and o<strong>the</strong>r errands.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 17

Interisland travel has<br />

changed, and Global Airways<br />

no longer exists, but Lindsay<br />

is still <strong>the</strong>re . . . not at <strong>the</strong><br />

airport anymore, but as a<br />

manager at Caribbean Cruisin’<br />

at Walkin Marina at <strong>the</strong> eastern<br />

end <strong>of</strong> Providenciales. He<br />

has moved from an air service<br />

to ferry service but remains<br />

that steady guy behind <strong>the</strong><br />

counter.<br />

Lindsay’s perspective on<br />

travel is not only his story,<br />

but also that <strong>of</strong> his family.<br />

With bro<strong>the</strong>rs Ferrington and<br />

Bennett, <strong>the</strong> Gardiners put<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> air charter that<br />

operated for 15 years. They<br />

figured <strong>the</strong>y had <strong>the</strong> right<br />

stuff. As Lindsay tells it, in<br />

1993 <strong>the</strong>y were talking about<br />

aviation in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> and realized <strong>the</strong>y were ready for<br />

forming a company: Ferrington was a fully-trained commercial<br />

pilot, Bennett was an A&P (airframe and power<br />

plant) mechanic, and Lindsay had a background that<br />

included assisting Bennett, plus shipyard management at<br />

Caicos Marina. It was decided, he says. “Ferrington will be<br />

<strong>the</strong> chief pilot and Bennett <strong>the</strong> chief mechanic and I will<br />

manage <strong>the</strong> company.”<br />

As a charter company, Global didn’t have a set schedule,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> bro<strong>the</strong>rs shrewdly began planning to run<br />

flights to align with <strong>the</strong> most popular times when tourists<br />

were moving back and forth to o<strong>the</strong>r islands. Lindsay<br />

figured it all out while supervising and keeping an eye on<br />

international flights, Ferrington’s whereabouts, and <strong>the</strong><br />

coolers locals were carting to his desk.<br />

Freight was always problematic. “Freight hauling was<br />

a challenge because at <strong>the</strong> start, air transport was <strong>the</strong><br />

main mode for transportation, and North Caicos being a<br />

hinterland, it was difficult to get supplies over,” Lindsay<br />

explains. He did his best to accommodate people’s<br />

belongings in <strong>the</strong> small holds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> planes while keeping<br />

track <strong>of</strong> passenger weights and distribution. (Travelers<br />

were asked to include <strong>the</strong>ir body weights when signing<br />

<strong>the</strong> manifest; <strong>the</strong>re was always a small adjustment for<br />

<strong>the</strong> inevitable white lies.) Sometimes, <strong>the</strong>re were strange<br />

cargo requests: one customer wanted <strong>the</strong> plane to carry<br />

bags <strong>of</strong> cement to North Caicos!<br />

This is one <strong>of</strong> Global Airway’s three aircraft operating during <strong>the</strong> peak <strong>of</strong> its business.<br />

Lindsay made it all work. At <strong>the</strong> peak <strong>of</strong> Global Airways,<br />

<strong>the</strong> company had three aircraft and eleven workers.<br />

Through <strong>the</strong> years, he watched as airworthiness checks<br />

tightened, security increased and new directives ensured<br />

that certain errors and accidents would not happen again.<br />

In short, Lindsay spent his days as a worrier. “The biggest<br />

challenge <strong>the</strong>n was to stay afloat and keep <strong>the</strong> cost<br />

down, as aviation is a tough business and with any mistake<br />

you easily lose a significant amount <strong>of</strong> revenue. You<br />

could lose <strong>the</strong> entire business overnight,” he says.<br />

The company’s work on this edge <strong>of</strong> viability did not<br />

survive 2008, when <strong>the</strong> U.S. economy’s downturn affected<br />

all operations in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos. Limping along, he<br />

says, “We began to re-evaluate <strong>the</strong> business and decided<br />

to move on from aviation.” The bro<strong>the</strong>rs dissolved <strong>the</strong><br />

company and went in somewhat different directions.<br />

Bennett began working on Parrot Cay while continuing to<br />

do some aircraft maintenance. Ferrington pulled back to<br />

North Caicos interests, but also received <strong>the</strong> opportunity<br />

to purchase an interest in <strong>the</strong> developing ferry service <strong>of</strong><br />

Caribbean Cruisin’. Lindsay was invited to work with <strong>the</strong><br />

ferry company as an assistant manager.<br />

For him, <strong>the</strong> transition was good. The stress <strong>of</strong> being<br />

“<strong>the</strong> guy behind <strong>the</strong> desk” was mitigated because, he says,<br />

“<strong>the</strong>re are more heads and minds involved in my day-today<br />

activities.” Also, he stretched his skills by acquiring a<br />

boat captain’s license in 2010. “This is a fresh perspective<br />

for me, and unlike in <strong>the</strong> aviation business, where I didn’t<br />

18 www.timespub.tc


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have a pilot’s license, I can back up <strong>the</strong> boat captains<br />

should <strong>the</strong>re be a need,” he comments.<br />

For a “son <strong>of</strong> North Caicos,” Lindsay Gardiner has<br />

spent a lot <strong>of</strong> time on Provo, living <strong>the</strong>re while he continues<br />

to help o<strong>the</strong>rs to travel. And <strong>the</strong> guy behind <strong>the</strong><br />

counter is still <strong>the</strong>re, getting o<strong>the</strong>rs where <strong>the</strong>y’re going.<br />

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Confessions <strong>of</strong> a crazy customer<br />

Some companies lose <strong>the</strong>ir personal touch in customer<br />

service as <strong>the</strong>y grow. Global Airways never<br />

did, and that was due largely to <strong>the</strong> man behind <strong>the</strong><br />

counter, Lindsay Gardiner. Even though, in my memory,<br />

he <strong>of</strong>ten appeared to have a phone permanently<br />

attached to his ear, he was always listening out <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r. In <strong>the</strong> days when I was flying Global at least<br />

once a month, doing my banking and shopping to<br />

put <strong>the</strong> finishing touches on my North Caicos house,<br />

I appealed to him for help several times, and he never<br />

let me down.<br />

There was, for example, <strong>the</strong> time I walked into <strong>the</strong><br />

airport carting a large mirror framed in wicker, which<br />

I lucked into as <strong>the</strong> perfect solution to my as-yet<br />

mirrorless upstairs bathroom. Lindsay watched me,<br />

deadpan, as I approached <strong>the</strong> counter. He didn’t say<br />

“no,” but his expression surely did. “Please, please,<br />

please?” were my first words. He sighed. “We’ll try,”<br />

he said, understanding <strong>the</strong> plight <strong>of</strong> North Caicos<br />

residents who <strong>the</strong>n had few resources at home. My<br />

mirror made it.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r time, when I was trying to combine a computer-repair<br />

trip on Provo with a writing job on South<br />

Caicos, I realized that taking my newly-repaired laptop<br />

with me on a working fishing boat might not be<br />

a good idea. Could Global please hold it for me until<br />

I got back? They did, locking it safely in an upstairs<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice.<br />

And more than once when, for various reasons, I<br />

was ei<strong>the</strong>r phoneless or lacking in minutes or low on<br />

battery power, Lindsay handed me his. I was, and still<br />

am, grateful. a<br />

~ Jody Rathgeb<br />

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tel.: 9464440 cell: 2314569 email: redmond@tciway.tc<br />

20 www.timespub.tc

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eye on <strong>the</strong> sky – global warming<br />

Opposite page: Mangroves, which are vital protection for some species <strong>of</strong> fish and o<strong>the</strong>r sea life, will likely begin to succumb to higher ocean<br />

temperatures.<br />

Above: As ocean temperatures rise, fish species will be forced to leave <strong>the</strong>ir traditional home grounds in search <strong>of</strong> a habitat where <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

able to thrive.<br />


A Ripple Effect<br />

Impact <strong>of</strong> rising sea surface temperatures.<br />

The topic <strong>of</strong> global warming is filling <strong>the</strong> headlines from <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> to <strong>the</strong> States, from <strong>the</strong> Far East<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Far West and everywhere in between. And for good reason. Global warming is having resounding<br />

impacts around <strong>the</strong> world. Residents and visitors may assume because <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are so<br />

small, that <strong>the</strong> effects <strong>of</strong> climate change will be low. Life will go on as always. Unfortunately, impacts are<br />

already occurring, whe<strong>the</strong>r people realize it or not.<br />

By Paul Wilkerson<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 23

Let’s define global warming: <strong>the</strong> long-term heating<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Earth’s climate system due to human activities. The<br />

majority <strong>of</strong> this heating comes as a result <strong>of</strong> burning fossil<br />

fuels which ultimately leads to increased greenhouse<br />

gas levels in <strong>the</strong> atmosphere.<br />

Global warming is a multi-faceted problem. Far too<br />

complicated to explain in this article, so for this issue we<br />

will focus on <strong>the</strong> sea surface temperature changes and<br />

impacts on <strong>the</strong> fishing industry. In future editions, we’ll<br />

discuss o<strong>the</strong>r wea<strong>the</strong>r-related topics as we continue to<br />

adapt to this problem that will take all <strong>of</strong> us to solve.<br />

Naturally, when booking a holiday to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>,<br />

folks look forward to sampling local cuisine. In <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean, we would expect a cornucopia <strong>of</strong> seafood on<br />

<strong>the</strong> menu—a variety <strong>of</strong> fresh fish, conch and lobster. And<br />

when you come to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, you won’t<br />

be disappointed. But will it always be that way?<br />

Sadly, without changes to how we take care <strong>of</strong> our<br />

environment, that once plentiful variety <strong>of</strong> “fruits <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> sea” may become <strong>the</strong> exception and not <strong>the</strong> norm.<br />

A direct cause will likely be due to rising Sea Surface<br />

Temperatures (SST) which are directly tied to global<br />

warming.<br />

To date, <strong>the</strong> Global Atmospheric Temperature has<br />

risen on average over 1ºC since about 1900. This has<br />

resulted in SST rises in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean <strong>of</strong> about 0.5ºC<br />

in <strong>the</strong> last 50 years or so. That might seem like such a<br />

small amount, that surely it isn’t such a big deal. Now<br />

remember that 70% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earth’s surface is covered in<br />

water. Fur<strong>the</strong>r consider that ALL water sources across <strong>the</strong><br />

globe are also absorbing that heat. As a result, <strong>the</strong>re is<br />

no region <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> world that will be left untouched. The<br />

impacts <strong>of</strong> this oceanic temperature rise, without intervention,<br />

will likely prove devastating for islands like <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos.<br />

The likely impacts <strong>of</strong> SST rise are akin to watching<br />

an avalanche <strong>of</strong> snow collapsing in slow motion down<br />

<strong>the</strong> side <strong>of</strong> a mountain. As water temperatures rise,<br />

coral beds, which many marine species depend on for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir homes and for raising <strong>the</strong>ir <strong>of</strong>fspring, could be at<br />

more significant threat <strong>of</strong> catastrophic coral bleaching<br />

episodes. Coral bleaching is quickly becoming an emergent<br />

problem across <strong>the</strong> large barrier reefs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> world,<br />

including here in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.<br />

As a result <strong>of</strong> this loss in habitat, fish species will be<br />

forced to leave <strong>the</strong>ir traditional home grounds in search<br />

<strong>of</strong> a habitat where <strong>the</strong>y are able to thrive. O<strong>the</strong>r fish species<br />

which are acclimatized to <strong>the</strong> shallower waters within<br />

<strong>the</strong> Caicos Bank and shorelines <strong>of</strong> TCI may eventually be<br />

pushed out as water temperatures climb over <strong>the</strong> coming<br />

decades. As <strong>the</strong>se shallow waters continue to heat,<br />

oxygen depletion will occur, making it more difficult for<br />

aquatic life to thrive.<br />

Mangroves, which are vital protection for some species<br />

<strong>of</strong> fish and o<strong>the</strong>r sea life, will likely begin to succumb<br />

to <strong>the</strong> higher temperatures as well. Groves may thin in<br />

areas as stress sets in, while o<strong>the</strong>r areas may see losses<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir groves completely.<br />


This sea surface temperature map was produced using MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data acquired daily over<br />

<strong>the</strong> whole globe in <strong>the</strong> year 2000. The red pixels show warmer surface temperatures, while yellows and greens are intermediate values, and<br />

blue pixels show cold water.<br />

24 www.timespub.tc



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As fish species are pushed fur<strong>the</strong>r out to sea in search<br />

<strong>of</strong> more habitable conditions, fish ga<strong>the</strong>rers will likewise<br />

have to venture a longer way to make <strong>the</strong>ir catches. The<br />

current bounty <strong>of</strong> fish being brought in for harvest could<br />

drop to 60 to 80% in <strong>the</strong> future, or worse yet. The species<br />

caught may not be as diverse as what was once common.<br />

Where lobster was once found in shallower waters where<br />

free diving was possible, in <strong>the</strong> future <strong>the</strong>se lobster may<br />

be out <strong>of</strong> reach for those without appropriate gear.<br />

Conch, <strong>the</strong> most consumed seafood in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>,<br />

will be impacted. Studies are underway to analyze exactly<br />

how higher sea temperatures impact <strong>the</strong> reproduction<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> different species, calcification rates and survival.<br />

More research is needed to determine <strong>the</strong> long term<br />

impacts.<br />

As fish ga<strong>the</strong>rers head fur<strong>the</strong>r out to sea to find <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

catches, <strong>the</strong>y will incur higher costs for maintenance,<br />

fuel, gear and personnel to run <strong>the</strong>ir operations. This cost<br />

will be passed on to consumers, which in <strong>the</strong> long term<br />

could lead to a crisis <strong>of</strong> sorts in <strong>the</strong> industry. The greatest<br />

impact will be on <strong>the</strong> locals who depend on <strong>the</strong>se waters<br />

as <strong>the</strong>ir source <strong>of</strong> sustainment and income. The ripple<br />

effects are far reaching.<br />

Although this all sounds like doom and gloom, it<br />

doesn’t have to be! You, me . . . all <strong>of</strong> us play a critical<br />

role in changing <strong>the</strong> environment. Even <strong>the</strong> simplest <strong>of</strong><br />

things will make a difference. Walk to work! Commute<br />

with friends who have a similar schedule. Reduce your<br />

energy usage at home. If we all make small changes in<br />

our daily energy consumption, we reduce <strong>the</strong> demand on<br />

power supply stations, which in turn reduces <strong>the</strong> amount<br />

<strong>of</strong> energy <strong>the</strong>y need to produce and lowers <strong>the</strong>ir emissions.<br />

Eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce meat<br />

consumption. Growing produce takes little more than<br />

water and soil. Plants help exchange carbon dioxide<br />

for oxygen. Less meat production significantly reduces<br />

greenhouse gas emissions and reduces stress on water<br />

and land resources.<br />

Through <strong>the</strong> power <strong>of</strong> knowledge, education and<br />

teamwork, we do have <strong>the</strong> ability to slow <strong>the</strong> process <strong>of</strong><br />

global warming, and with time, save our glorious planet<br />

Earth. a<br />

Paul Wilkerson is an American meteorologist and tourist<br />

who frequents <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Along with<br />

his wife and two daughters, <strong>the</strong> Wilkersons stay actively<br />

engaged with Islanders throughout <strong>the</strong> year with his<br />

Facebook page Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Wea<strong>the</strong>r Info.<br />

26 www.timespub.tc

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talking taíno<br />


Opposite page: A bright red sunset can <strong>of</strong>ten be attributed to Saharan dust in <strong>the</strong> atmosphere. This same dust is responsible for <strong>the</strong> red clay<br />

used for early pottery in <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Above: This image, “Palmetto Potters,” depicts two sisters working on a set <strong>of</strong> new pottery bowls. The woman on <strong>the</strong> right uses <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong><br />

a thin reed to decorate <strong>the</strong> rim edge <strong>of</strong> a small bowl. Her daughter kneads <strong>the</strong> dense clay and adds burnt shell to <strong>the</strong> mixture to make <strong>the</strong><br />

unique paste that distinguishes <strong>the</strong> pottery known today as Palmetto Ware. A set <strong>of</strong> freshly made bowls and a cassava griddle lie on mats and<br />

in basketry frames—<strong>the</strong> patterns from <strong>the</strong>ir weave will be impressed into <strong>the</strong> ceramic bases as a permanent record <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se fragile, organic<br />

arts that do not survive <strong>the</strong> passage <strong>of</strong> time.<br />

Clear as Mud<br />

The origins <strong>of</strong> early pottery in <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

By Emily Kracht and Lindsay Bloch<br />

With Bill Keegan, Betsy Carlson, and Michael Pateman<br />

In our last “Talking Taino” we described a variety <strong>of</strong> ways that meals were prepared without clay pots. The<br />

invention <strong>of</strong> pottery vessels led to widespread sharing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> technology and almost universal adoption.<br />

Pots provided a superior method <strong>of</strong> cooking with liquids. Two significant reasons for adopting pots are<br />

cooking corn porridge as weaning food (this has helped reduce infant mortality worldwide), and fermenting<br />

alcoholic beverages such as manioc beer, chicha (corn), and pineapple wine (Carib).<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 29

Pottery has been made all over <strong>the</strong> world for thousands<br />

<strong>of</strong> years, independently invented in multiple places.<br />

At its most basic, <strong>the</strong> steps are: find clay, shape it, fire<br />

it. But within this basic recipe, people have developed<br />

innumerable variations to make successful pottery with<br />

different materials and for specific purposes. Although<br />

<strong>the</strong> process was by <strong>the</strong>n well known, potters in <strong>the</strong><br />

Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong> faced a number <strong>of</strong> technological challenges.<br />

So, how did <strong>the</strong> first people inhabiting <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> figure out how to make pottery from<br />

scratch?<br />

The first people to occupy <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong> (<strong>the</strong><br />

archipelago that includes TCI and The Bahamas) arrived<br />

around AD 900. They likely came from Hispaniola, bringing<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir island lifeways and goods <strong>the</strong>y would need with<br />

<strong>the</strong>m, including wood and stone tools, baskets, nets and<br />

pottery. Pots for cooking and serving food or storing<br />

water were common. When <strong>the</strong> pots <strong>the</strong>y brought with<br />

<strong>the</strong>m broke, or when <strong>the</strong>y needed more, <strong>the</strong> hunt was<br />

on for suitable raw materials to make replacements. This<br />

task proved to be much harder than you may imagine.<br />

Many Lucayan tools were made <strong>of</strong> natural materials<br />

that have decayed over time so archaeologists rarely find<br />

<strong>the</strong>m, but pottery from <strong>the</strong>se early people is recovered<br />

today throughout <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos as broken sherds<br />

(fragments <strong>of</strong> pottery) washing out on beaches or buried<br />

underground.<br />

The pottery that was made in <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong>,<br />

a type we call Palmetto Ware, looks and feels very different<br />

from <strong>the</strong> typical Taíno pottery made in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

homeland. While most Taíno pots are brown, thin-bodied<br />

and smooth, Palmetto Ware is red, thick and chunky with<br />

abundant fragments <strong>of</strong> burned conch shell.<br />

In our research in <strong>the</strong> Ceramic Technology Lab at <strong>the</strong><br />

Florida Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History, we set out to recover<br />

<strong>the</strong> recipe for island-made Palmetto Ware pottery, figuring<br />

out where <strong>the</strong> clay came from, what was added to it<br />

and how pots were constructed. This has included several<br />

expeditions to look for pottery raw materials. Trips<br />

we took to Great Abaco, Long Island and Providenciales<br />

allowed us to look for clay deposits in <strong>the</strong> same places<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lucayans would have found <strong>the</strong>m hundreds <strong>of</strong> years<br />

ago. On Long Island, we drove out to sandy beaches<br />

along <strong>the</strong> coast. Exposed beds <strong>of</strong> limestone sat where<br />

<strong>the</strong> sand and water met, revealing small, eroded pockets<br />

<strong>of</strong> clay. We eventually stopped at a large expanse <strong>of</strong><br />

beach, with exposed beachrock extending across it to <strong>the</strong><br />

tree line. Walking across <strong>the</strong> limestone revealed bright<br />

These fragments <strong>of</strong> a Palmetto Ware bowl show its distinctive characteristics: red, thick and chunky with fragments <strong>of</strong> burned conch shell.<br />

Note <strong>the</strong> incised line decoration circling <strong>the</strong> rim.<br />


30 www.timespub.tc

Walkin May2017_Layout 1 5/28/17 5:45 PM Page 1<br />


Emily Kracht collects bright red clay deposits on <strong>the</strong> beach, <strong>the</strong> same<br />

place <strong>the</strong> Lucayans would have found <strong>the</strong>m hundreds <strong>of</strong> years ago.<br />

red clay deposits in its pockets. Wait, red clay? How did<br />

iron-rich red clay end up on limestone islands?<br />

When you visit <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong> today, most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

ground beneath your feet will be pale in color, whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

coral and shell beach sand, rock outcrops or soil. The<br />

islands <strong>of</strong> this archipelago are comprised entirely <strong>of</strong> limestone<br />

built up over millennia from calcium-rich sea life,<br />

which is white in color, without <strong>the</strong> iron that turns soils<br />

rusty red.<br />

The deposits <strong>of</strong> red clay found in <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong><br />

are Saharan dust that has made its way across <strong>the</strong> ocean!<br />

Fine particles <strong>of</strong> soil from <strong>the</strong> Sahara Desert form clouds<br />

that are transported all <strong>the</strong> way to <strong>the</strong> Americas, a process<br />

that has been happening for thousands <strong>of</strong> years.<br />

Even today, Sahara dust can be a nuisance affecting <strong>the</strong><br />

flight paths <strong>of</strong> airplanes and air quality during wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

events like windstorms. Over time, this dust accumulated<br />

in protected places, wea<strong>the</strong>ring to form a clayey material.<br />

So what is clay? Defining clay depends on who you’re<br />

talking to. To a geologist, clay is defined by its very small<br />

particle size and <strong>the</strong> proportion <strong>of</strong> specific clay minerals.<br />

To a potter, clay can be anything that behaves like<br />

a clay. This usually means that it is plastic, or moldable<br />

enough to hold its shape for making vessels, and that it<br />

can survive <strong>the</strong> high temperature <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> fire that renders<br />

it permanently hard. For <strong>the</strong> most part <strong>the</strong> clay developed<br />

from Saharan dust is not clay from a geological standpoint.<br />

Yet <strong>the</strong>se patchy deposits are <strong>the</strong> only usable mate-<br />




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Taino Paintings<br />

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tainopaintings.weebly.com<br />

mail:morris<strong>the</strong>odore@hotmail.com<br />

3910 Longhorn Dr - Sarasota, Fl34233<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 31

ial for making pottery on <strong>the</strong>se islands. Most o<strong>the</strong>r local<br />

materials won’t work because limestone contains high<br />

levels <strong>of</strong> calcium which makes pottery decompose when<br />

fired at high temperatures. But usable does not mean<br />

ideal. As we dug up <strong>the</strong>se deposits, some much deeper<br />

than o<strong>the</strong>rs, we evaluated <strong>the</strong>ir properties. We tried rolling<br />

<strong>the</strong> clay into balls, <strong>the</strong>n forming a coil and finally arching<br />

<strong>the</strong> coil. Cracking or breaking at any step is an indication<br />

that <strong>the</strong> clay might not be plastic enough for pottery<br />

making. Almost all <strong>of</strong> our clay samples failed <strong>the</strong>se tests.<br />

We don’t know what kind <strong>of</strong> tests <strong>the</strong> Lucayans may have<br />

done, but <strong>the</strong>y likely began with some failures as well.<br />

Much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Caribbean was once home to active volcanoes,<br />

producing rocks that have wea<strong>the</strong>red over time<br />

to produce plenty <strong>of</strong> good quality clays. In many places<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is also abundant quartz sand, which can be added<br />

to clays to provide strength. Additions such as this are<br />

called tempers, similar to adding aggregate to cement to<br />

keep it from cracking when it dries. Pottery making was<br />

much easier in <strong>the</strong> Antilles.<br />

There is no quartz sand in <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong>,<br />

only calcium-rich sand that would have made <strong>the</strong>ir pots<br />

collapse when fired. When calcium-rich sand and shell<br />

are heated in a fire <strong>the</strong>y literally can explode. Instead,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lucayans figured out that by first burning and <strong>the</strong>n<br />

crushing conch shell it would become more stable and<br />

rock-like when refired in <strong>the</strong> clay to a moderate temperature.<br />

Conch shell temper made all <strong>the</strong> difference, helping<br />

<strong>the</strong> stiff clay to hold its shape and form pottery vessels.<br />

These shells were selected due to <strong>the</strong>ir abundance and<br />

because <strong>the</strong> thick shells produce <strong>the</strong> larger fragments<br />

needed to mix with <strong>the</strong> clay; thinner shells turn to powder<br />

when heated. Researchers today understand that adding<br />

<strong>the</strong> shell prevents cracking and <strong>the</strong>rmal shock in fired<br />

pottery, something <strong>the</strong> Lucayans clearly figured out long<br />

ago.<br />

The Lucayans were not simply explorers and settlers<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se new lands, but engineers and innovators too.<br />

They likely tested different tempers, clays and firing temperatures<br />

until <strong>the</strong>y successfully created Palmetto Ware.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> lab, we’ve been working on replication experiments<br />

to determine what conditions produce <strong>the</strong> best pottery<br />

with <strong>the</strong> available materials. We brought back clay samples,<br />

burned a conch shell in a fire and <strong>the</strong>n crushed it<br />

to include into <strong>the</strong> ceramic recipe as a temper. We <strong>the</strong>n<br />

formed <strong>the</strong> clay into briquettes with various ratios <strong>of</strong> shell<br />

temper, mixed with salt or fresh water, and fired to temperatures<br />

ranging from 400º–800º C.<br />

We compared <strong>the</strong> briquettes to archaeological<br />

From top: When clay deposits found on <strong>the</strong> beach were formed into<br />

an arch, <strong>the</strong>y cracked, indicating that <strong>the</strong> clay is not plastic enough<br />

for pottery.<br />

Adding burned, crushed conch shell to pottery clay helps <strong>the</strong> clay hold<br />

its shape and form pottery vessels.<br />

Palmetto Ware and evaluated <strong>the</strong>ir hardness and color.<br />

While some briquettes fired firm, o<strong>the</strong>rs fell apart quickly<br />

or soon after cooling, especially those fired at higher<br />

temperatures. This told us that Palmetto Ware must have<br />

been fired at lower temperatures, likely in <strong>the</strong> same range<br />

as fires used for cooking. Even so, Palmetto Ware tends to<br />


32 www.timespub.tc

e thicker and s<strong>of</strong>ter than traditional<br />

Taíno pottery, crumbling fairly easily,<br />

especially over time. The islands’<br />

warm, moist environment makes for<br />

poor preservation and o<strong>the</strong>r factors<br />

like coastal erosion, sea level change<br />

and wea<strong>the</strong>ring events make it difficult<br />

to find intact artifacts or sites. In<br />

fact, a whole Palmetto Ware pot has<br />

never been recovered. What remains<br />

<strong>of</strong> pots in <strong>the</strong> Lucayan <strong>Islands</strong> are<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten small sherds.<br />

Never<strong>the</strong>less, we have some<br />

evidence that <strong>the</strong> Lucayans made<br />

Palmetto Ware in some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> same<br />

shapes and with <strong>the</strong> same decorations<br />

as <strong>the</strong> pottery brought from<br />

Hispaniola. These decorations include<br />

incised parallel lines, cross-hatching,<br />

appliqué, poked marks called<br />

punctations, folded rims and animal<br />

This experiment <strong>of</strong> firing <strong>the</strong> clay samples at<br />

various temperatures showed that Palmetto<br />

Ware must have been fired at temperatures<br />

in <strong>the</strong> same range as fires used for cooking.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 33

epresentations called adornos. Most Palmetto Ware<br />

sherds are plain and undecorated, but this is due to <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

small size and <strong>the</strong> limited placement <strong>of</strong> designs near <strong>the</strong><br />

top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> pot. These rough surfaces provide for a firmer<br />

grip when moving <strong>the</strong> pot, while clay extending from <strong>the</strong><br />

vessel provides a cooler surface for lifting vessels from a<br />

fire.<br />

Sometimes we also find where clay was pressed<br />

out onto woven mats, leaving a basket-like impression.<br />

These mat impressions are also sometimes found on<br />

bowls, where it looks as if <strong>the</strong> lower portion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> pot<br />

was shaped in a basket. More <strong>of</strong>ten, <strong>the</strong>se impressions<br />

are found on even thicker, flat fragments <strong>of</strong> pottery griddles.<br />

Griddles were used for baking cassava bread and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r types <strong>of</strong> food processing. In addition to acting as a<br />

signature for <strong>the</strong> person who made <strong>the</strong> mat and <strong>the</strong> griddle,<br />

<strong>the</strong> dimpled bottom increased <strong>the</strong> surface area and<br />

enhanced <strong>the</strong>rmal conductivity.<br />

Palmetto Ware has long been considered simpler or<br />

“inferior” to Taíno pottery due to its fragility and apparent<br />

lack <strong>of</strong> decoration. This idea is belied by <strong>the</strong> fact that<br />

modern archaeologists have struggled to experimentally<br />

recreate Palmetto Ware. Ra<strong>the</strong>r than prove its simplicity,<br />

<strong>the</strong>se tests have shown <strong>the</strong> skill and expertise <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Lucayans in <strong>the</strong>ir craft.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> lab, we have now moved on to figuring out<br />

more specifically where pottery was made, based on its<br />

elemental “fingerprint.” By identifying <strong>the</strong> specific composition<br />

<strong>of</strong> a potsherd, we can link it to a particular island<br />

where we’ve found clay with <strong>the</strong> same fingerprint. For<br />

example, we can tell <strong>the</strong> difference between pottery made<br />

on Middle Caicos from pottery made on Long Island (The<br />

34 www.timespub.tc

TWATIMES_Layout 1 2/16/17 7:49 AM Page 1<br />


The specific composition <strong>of</strong> this Palmetto Ware griddle fragment can<br />

help link it to a particular island where <strong>the</strong> clay was found. Note <strong>the</strong><br />

mat impression.<br />

Bahamas) by <strong>the</strong> specific ratios <strong>of</strong> elements such as zirconium<br />

and rubidium. We have also learned where <strong>the</strong><br />

Taíno pottery found in TCI was made, with much <strong>of</strong> it<br />

coming from <strong>the</strong> northwest coast <strong>of</strong> what is now Haiti.<br />

Compositional analysis allows us to determine what<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lucayans and Taínos cannot tell us <strong>the</strong>mselves —<br />

how <strong>the</strong>y moved and traded hundreds <strong>of</strong> years ago. This<br />

includes what routes <strong>the</strong>y may have taken, and just how<br />

far <strong>of</strong> an influence <strong>the</strong>y may have had. Peoples from Cuba<br />

and Hispaniola traveled to what is now TCI, but also hundreds<br />

<strong>of</strong> miles to <strong>the</strong> most nor<strong>the</strong>rn parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Lucayan<br />

<strong>Islands</strong>. Not only are we able to retrace <strong>the</strong>ir steps, but<br />

also see how <strong>the</strong>y adapted <strong>the</strong>ir technology to new conditions<br />

and materials. Understanding Caribbean ceramics<br />

is as much <strong>of</strong> an exploration for us as it was for <strong>the</strong><br />

Lucayans first figuring it out. a<br />

Serving international & domestic clients in real estate, property development,<br />

mortgages, corporate & commercial matters, immigration, & more.<br />


Emily Kracht (BS Chemistry and Anthropology, University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Florida <strong>2021</strong>) is currently studying Caribbean pottery<br />

with Dr. Lindsay Bloch, who is Collections Manager <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Ceramic Technology Laboratory, Florida Museum <strong>of</strong><br />

Natural History (University <strong>of</strong> Florida). Substantial funding<br />

for this research came from a National Geographic<br />

Society grant (NGS-55292-19).<br />

Dr. Bill Keegan is Curator <strong>of</strong> Caribbean Archaeology<br />

at <strong>the</strong> Florida Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History (University <strong>of</strong><br />

Florida); Dr. Betsy Carlson is Senior Archaeologist at<br />

Sou<strong>the</strong>astern Archaeological Research (SEARCH, Inc.) in<br />

Jonesville, FL; Dr. Michael Pateman is former Director<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum and currently<br />

Curator/Lab Director <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> AEX Maritime Museum on<br />

Grand Bahama.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 35


feature<br />

Opposite page: The rugged nor<strong>the</strong>rn coastline <strong>of</strong> Middle Caicos is unlike any o<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>the</strong> country.<br />

Above: This is Blue Horizon Resort (now known as Dragon Cay Resort) as it stands today, over 30 years since <strong>the</strong> Witts first arrived in <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Islands</strong>.<br />


This is <strong>the</strong> story <strong>of</strong> three people who went into a difficult adventure that turned into a wonderful<br />

experience.<br />

Middle Caicos Pioneers<br />

Michael, Mikki and Dale Marie Witt.<br />

It all started in 1990 when my mo<strong>the</strong>r, Dale Marie Witt, had just lost her companion to a heart attack.<br />

She wasn’t sure what to do next and we went to visit her in Buellton, California. In <strong>the</strong> course <strong>of</strong> our<br />

conversations she said, “Why don’t we buy a bed and breakfast inn and <strong>the</strong> three <strong>of</strong> us could run it?” The<br />

three being my wife, my mo<strong>the</strong>r and I.<br />

Story & Historical Photos By Michael and Mikki Witt<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 37

At <strong>the</strong> time, I was a consultant for <strong>the</strong> U.S. Government<br />

on some secret undersea submarines. However, <strong>the</strong>re<br />

was a delay in <strong>the</strong> program so my wife and I said, “It<br />

sounds like a good idea.” We were also tired <strong>of</strong> traveling<br />

back and forth from Anaheim, California to Washington<br />

D.C. as <strong>of</strong>ten as twice a week. My mo<strong>the</strong>r said, “Let’s go<br />

to Hawaii.” We made reservations and were <strong>of</strong>f to Hawaii.<br />

It was beautiful but everything was very expensive and we<br />

did not find anything that suited us.<br />

Where to go next? I had read an article about a place<br />

called <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. No one seemed to<br />

know where <strong>the</strong>y were, but <strong>the</strong> pictures looked good.<br />

After booking <strong>the</strong> tickets, we went to this place somewhere<br />

south <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Bahamas and north <strong>of</strong> Hispaniola.<br />

The airport where we landed in Providenciales was<br />

very small, as was <strong>the</strong> terminal. We rented a car and it<br />

didn’t take long to tour <strong>the</strong> island. We met with several<br />

real estate agents. Nothing was that interesting on Provo<br />

and we asked about <strong>the</strong> country’s o<strong>the</strong>r islands. Several<br />

islands were mentioned, including one that was large but<br />

not developed—Middle Caicos. It sounded interesting and<br />

one agent said <strong>the</strong>y had a listing <strong>the</strong>re.<br />

A chartered flight by small plane landed on <strong>the</strong> short<br />

runway and we were met by taxi driver and landowner<br />

Carlon Forbes. He took us to Bambarra Beach at <strong>the</strong> east<br />

end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island. He said his family owned land near<br />

some grass huts. It was okay, but almost even with <strong>the</strong><br />

sea level. Once a year, <strong>the</strong> owners would have to allow<br />

people to walk across <strong>the</strong> property to attend a beach festival.<br />

We decided this was not what we wanted. The plane<br />

would be back in a few hours so he said we should see<br />

some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island. He drove us to a place <strong>the</strong>y<br />

called Mudjin Harbour.<br />

The only access was a small rough road that led<br />

toward this cove. When we arrived, we were astonished,<br />

as this was <strong>the</strong> most beautiful place we had ever seen.<br />

Crystal-clear, brilliant blue waters were surrounded by<br />

incredible rock formations. We assumed it was a national<br />

park. After a brief visit, it was time to fly back to Provo.<br />

We went to say goodbye to Phillip Misick at Prestigious<br />

Properties, and to thank him for his help. We mentioned<br />

Middle Caicos and Phillip asked us how we liked <strong>the</strong><br />

island. We said it was okay but <strong>the</strong> land we were shown<br />

was not what we were looking for. One <strong>of</strong> us said, “Now if<br />

you could get us Mudjin Harbour that would be different.”<br />

Phillip replied, “It’s for sale and we have <strong>the</strong> listing . . .<br />

but you said you were looking for 5 acres and that is 50<br />

acres.”<br />

It was owned by a German family. We asked if <strong>the</strong>y<br />

would subdivide it and he said no. He told us <strong>the</strong> price<br />

and we gasped. Would <strong>the</strong>y take terms? No, it would be<br />

cash only. Mikki and I were already thinking <strong>of</strong> our next<br />

destination in our quest for property in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.<br />

Yet back at <strong>the</strong> hotel, we kept talking about Mudjin<br />

Harbour and how breathtaking it was. My mo<strong>the</strong>r said,<br />

“Let’s go for it!” We just looked at her in disbelief. She<br />

said, “We can take all <strong>the</strong> money that we have including<br />

<strong>the</strong> sale <strong>of</strong> my California home and come up with a reasonable<br />

<strong>of</strong>fer.” Mikki and I looked at each o<strong>the</strong>r and said<br />

“Yes!” Phillip presented our <strong>of</strong>fer to <strong>the</strong> owners and <strong>the</strong>y<br />

accepted! The funds were transferred and <strong>the</strong> paperwork<br />

was completed.<br />

We owned Mudjin Harbour! Now, what to do? We had<br />

no cash, a lot <strong>of</strong> land and we needed to sell lots to survive<br />

financially. Middle Caicos was truly undeveloped with only<br />

two telephones (police and <strong>the</strong> District Commissioner’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice) and no Internet in those days. Isolated from <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r islands, <strong>the</strong> only access was by small plane or chartered<br />

boat. The only communication was by VHF radio.<br />

We went back to California.<br />

My mo<strong>the</strong>r, Mikki and I returned to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> and<br />

started figuring out what to do. We leased a house in <strong>the</strong><br />

nearby village <strong>of</strong> Conch Bar. One day we were sitting in<br />

<strong>the</strong> beach cave and my mo<strong>the</strong>r looked out at <strong>the</strong> rocks in<br />

<strong>the</strong> cove and said, “That looks like a dragon.” From <strong>the</strong>n<br />

on, it was known as Dragon Cay. At nght, we sometimes<br />

had a visitor who sang outside our window. People told<br />

us that was <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> one <strong>of</strong> our neighbors and to<br />

just ignore him. There was a constant parade <strong>of</strong> chickens<br />

from some nearby houses.<br />

I rented a survey land station and Mikki held a survey<br />

pole at hundreds <strong>of</strong> spots on <strong>the</strong> land. At night, we plotted<br />

<strong>the</strong> survey points and <strong>the</strong>ir elevations. After returning<br />

to <strong>the</strong> States, <strong>the</strong> contours were cut out and a scale model<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land made. A master plan with roads, etc. was submitted<br />

and approved by <strong>the</strong> TCI Government Planning<br />

Department.<br />

I finished up my consulting and <strong>the</strong> three <strong>of</strong> us went<br />

back to our rental house. Several <strong>of</strong> my engineering<br />

friends came down and bought lots. We advertised in<br />

some magazines and people would come and stay in our<br />

rental house. There were no survey markers. We placed<br />

rocks about where lot lines would be located. We took<br />

potential buyers to view <strong>the</strong> lots but it was <strong>the</strong> view that<br />

sold <strong>the</strong>m. At that point, <strong>the</strong> parcels were surveyed.<br />

I shipped a 24-foot Carolina Skiff and a Yamaha<br />

TW200 motorcycle to <strong>the</strong> island. Then, with a motorcycle<br />

ramp in <strong>the</strong> boat, we could go to <strong>the</strong> next island and buy<br />

38 www.timespub.tc

Clockwise from top left: Mikki and Dale Witt arrive at <strong>the</strong> small airport in Providenciales. Mudjin Harbour in Middle Caicos before development<br />

was <strong>the</strong> most beautiful place <strong>the</strong> Witts had ever seen. Captain Lewis Neat piloted <strong>the</strong> Dale Marie. The Dale Marie was a 48-foot, self-propelled<br />

barge with a shallow draft. Lovey Forbes and his band played at <strong>the</strong> “boat warming” party. It was attended by a number <strong>of</strong> dignitaries and<br />

locals. The Dale Marie was able to haul a large fuel tanker. This 24-foot Carolina Skiff was <strong>the</strong> Witts’ first boat. In <strong>the</strong> beach cave, Washington<br />

Missick and Robert Hall discuss <strong>the</strong> sale <strong>of</strong> Mudjin Harbour with <strong>the</strong> Witts.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 39

groceries, gasoline and o<strong>the</strong>r items. There was no causeway<br />

connecting North and Middle Caicos at that time.<br />

How were we going to get building materials and<br />

supplies to <strong>the</strong> island? Occasionally, a large barge came<br />

around but not that <strong>of</strong>ten. On a trip back to Florida, I<br />

noticed a self-propelled barge advertised. It had a shallow<br />

draft which was needed for <strong>the</strong> local waters. Our friends<br />

Ty and Pat Merritt <strong>of</strong>fered to help us buy <strong>the</strong> boat. We<br />

flew up to Maryland and bought <strong>the</strong> boat and named it<br />

Dale Marie after my mo<strong>the</strong>r. It was still a little too much<br />

draft with its propellers, so we bought out <strong>of</strong> Alaska and<br />

installed a water jet drive.<br />

The boat was shipped to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Who was going<br />

to be <strong>the</strong> captain? I had heard about a guy called “Cap”<br />

(Lewis Neat—now deceased). He was good with boats<br />

and <strong>the</strong> biggest man on <strong>the</strong> island. We hired him. On<br />

<strong>the</strong> maiden trips from Provo to Middle Caicos, we had<br />

many adventures, from running aground to big swells<br />

coming over <strong>the</strong> bow. I knew what an admirable person<br />

he was when he said, “Mike—why don’t you stand in <strong>the</strong><br />

exit doorway and I will steer as <strong>the</strong> boat might turn over.”<br />

Somehow, we made it. Along <strong>the</strong> shore <strong>of</strong> islands like<br />

North Caicos along <strong>the</strong> way were lots <strong>of</strong> people waving,<br />

as no one had ever seen a 48-foot boat traveling along<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir shore. Then, we built docks on both Middle Caicos<br />

and North Caicos.<br />

We organized a “boat warming party” with <strong>the</strong> local<br />

people, politicians and <strong>the</strong> TCI Governor. Lovey Forbes’<br />

band was on board and <strong>of</strong>f we went to do a river cruise.<br />

Our friends Ty and Pat started dancing and everyone<br />

joined <strong>the</strong> celebration. A contract was completed with <strong>the</strong><br />

government for weekend ferry service between Middle<br />

and North Caicos. Dwight Hall was hired as <strong>the</strong> first mate.<br />

It was very shallow in places so we did some dredging<br />

in Bottle Creek. When running aground, an anchor was<br />

placed and we winched <strong>the</strong> boat <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> sandbar. One<br />

time, Cap was out in <strong>the</strong> water with <strong>the</strong> anchor and this<br />

really large shark swam right next to him. I yelled to<br />

Cap and he said, “Don’t worry,” and continued with <strong>the</strong><br />

anchor. Ano<strong>the</strong>r time, we came in at night and it was so<br />

dark that we could not find <strong>the</strong> Middle Caicos dock. So<br />

we just found a nice spot and anchored for <strong>the</strong> night.<br />

There were many trips to Provo and sometimes we went<br />

to South Dock twice a week. Once, we got back to Middle<br />

and opened <strong>the</strong> 20-foot container on deck to discover it<br />

was <strong>the</strong> wrong container! Oh well, back to Provo.<br />

The first project on land was a metal pre-fab storage<br />

building for a workshop and a place to keep materials.<br />

Once <strong>the</strong> building was completed, we started on <strong>the</strong><br />

roads. I bought a bulldozer, crane truck, rock crusher<br />

and a big rock wheel to cut trenches. Some days, we only<br />

did 10 feet <strong>of</strong> trench, as <strong>the</strong>re was some really hard rock.<br />

For <strong>the</strong> next several years, we worked extremely hard and<br />

built <strong>the</strong> main house and two cottages on each side.<br />

In 1995, we met Sara Kaufman. She was also inspired<br />

by <strong>the</strong> beauty <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area. We entered into a partnership<br />

with Sara to build three more cottages. With <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r two<br />

cottages, this was called Blue Horizon Resort. Then, we<br />

all worked toge<strong>the</strong>r and marketed <strong>the</strong> resort as a vacation<br />

destination. This was done in magazines and later on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Internet. In <strong>the</strong> next several years, <strong>the</strong> resort became<br />

known locally and internationally. It was very successful.<br />

Hurricanes could be a major threat. During our first<br />

few years in TCI, <strong>the</strong>y were not a problem. In 1995,<br />

Hurricane Erin formed over Provo and created two tornadoes.<br />

In 1996, Hurricanes Bertha, Fran and Hortense<br />

looked like <strong>the</strong>y were coming right at us but curved and<br />

stayed <strong>of</strong>fshore. There were big waves, rain and some<br />

wind. Hurricane Bonnie passed <strong>of</strong>fshore in 1999. In 2004,<br />

Hurricane Ivan came close with strong wind. Hurricane<br />

Chris was strong and <strong>the</strong> path uncertain so we stayed in<br />

<strong>the</strong> pump room <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> new house we were building.<br />

In September 2008, Hurricane Hannah passed to <strong>the</strong><br />

west <strong>of</strong> North Caicos and looped near Provo. It raised <strong>the</strong><br />

Caicos Banks to dangerously high levels. When <strong>the</strong> water<br />

tried to escape, a ten-foot high storm surge destroyed<br />

<strong>the</strong> recently built causeway between Middle and North<br />

Caicos. Middle Caicos became isolated. Mikki was in<br />

Mobile, Alabama and when she returned I had to hire a<br />

small boat to pick her up on North Caicos. Then about<br />

a week later came Hurricane Ike. This was a powerful<br />

hurricane that passed just to <strong>the</strong> south <strong>of</strong> TCI. However,<br />

<strong>the</strong> high winds were to <strong>the</strong> north and we received really<br />

bad wea<strong>the</strong>r. On my wind instrument, over 140 MPH was<br />

recorded! There was extensive damage to ro<strong>of</strong>s and most<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> power poles blew down. We were without power<br />

and telephones for many weeks.<br />

The next series <strong>of</strong> storms from 2010 to 2017 were<br />

Tomas, Dorian, Bertha and Cristobal. They brought rain<br />

and a little wind but we survived okay. In 2017, Hurricane<br />

Irma caused massive damage and loss <strong>of</strong> power across<br />

<strong>the</strong> country. Hurricane Maria also created enough wind to<br />

cause additional damage. I had to go to <strong>the</strong> hospital for<br />

stomach problems and <strong>the</strong>y were running on emergency<br />

generators.<br />

On Middle Caicos, we became very involved with <strong>the</strong><br />

community. During <strong>the</strong> week, my mo<strong>the</strong>r taught computer<br />

classes to <strong>the</strong> children and I taught adult classes<br />

40 www.timespub.tc

Clockwise from top left: The Witts’ first project on land was a pre-fab metal storage building/workshop. This bulldozer was one <strong>of</strong> several<br />

pieces <strong>of</strong> heavy equipment brought in to build <strong>the</strong> roads. The Circle <strong>of</strong> Hope includes a stone bench overlooking <strong>the</strong> sea. At this memorial service,<br />

Dale Witt’s ashes were spread over <strong>the</strong> sea. The Witts added stairs to a hidden beach below <strong>the</strong> resort. When <strong>the</strong> Witts moved to Florida,<br />

Pastor Williams held a farewell church ceremony, thanking <strong>the</strong> Witts for <strong>the</strong>ir contributions to Middle Caicos and asking God’s blessing for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir future. In 2019, <strong>the</strong> Witts sold <strong>the</strong>ir house on King Hill to Alan and Margaret. Mike Witt flew hundreds <strong>of</strong> hours over <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> in his<br />

gyrocopter. The Witts were very involved with <strong>the</strong> community, here Mikki celebrates Christmas with some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> kids. Yvette Tapfir and Mikki<br />

distribute presents to island children. This crane truck was also instrumental in building <strong>the</strong> main house and cottages.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 41

This Middle Caicos panorama at sunset is a sight to behold.<br />

on <strong>the</strong> weekend. The computers were donated by landowners and Blue Horizon Resort guests. This was <strong>the</strong> first<br />

computer lab in any <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands beyond Provo. At Christmastime, we bought presents for <strong>the</strong> island’s children from<br />

landowner donations.<br />

One interesting project was a garbage can painting contest where <strong>the</strong> winner received a prize. Ano<strong>the</strong>r project<br />

was “Paint <strong>the</strong> Island,” with paint donated by Sherwin Williams and local houses (including <strong>the</strong>ir ro<strong>of</strong>s) painted. We<br />

42 www.timespub.tc


also built many paths around <strong>the</strong> resort, including <strong>the</strong> “Hidden Beach” stairs, <strong>the</strong> “Circle <strong>of</strong> Hope” with its stone bench,<br />

<strong>the</strong> benches in <strong>the</strong> beach cave and <strong>the</strong> ones overlooking Mudjin Harbour. The Community Center was air conditioned.<br />

In partnership with <strong>the</strong> government, many o<strong>the</strong>r projects followed including improvements to <strong>the</strong> Conch Bar Caves,<br />

docks for small boats, a path into Indian Cave, improvements at <strong>the</strong> airport, school playground equipment and more.<br />

In 2000, <strong>the</strong> three <strong>of</strong> us were granted “Belongership” which carries all <strong>the</strong> rights as if we were born in <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 43

& Caicos. We were <strong>the</strong>n able to vote and enjoy benefits<br />

like going through immigration faster. We continued to<br />

run <strong>the</strong> resort and it did well with a great reputation. My<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r started to have health issues and returned to <strong>the</strong><br />

U.S. in 2001.<br />

Mikki and I started our home on “King Hill.” The<br />

house was constructed <strong>of</strong> solid reinforced concrete, all<br />

stainless steel fasteners, hurricane-pro<strong>of</strong> windows and<br />

built to withstand a category 5 hurricane. All water on<br />

<strong>the</strong> island for household use is rainwater, so we added a<br />

23,000 gallon cistern.<br />

In 2007 we received an <strong>of</strong>fer to buy <strong>the</strong> resort and<br />

land around it from an Englishman, Mr. Gill. We accepted<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fer and moved into <strong>the</strong> King Hill house and sort <strong>of</strong><br />

retired. However, Mr. Gill asked me to design and build a<br />

restaurant near Mudjin Harbour which was named Mudjin<br />

Bar and Grill.<br />

I obtained my private pilot’s license and flew around<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> in Cessna and Piper fixed wing aircraft. Then<br />

I followed a teenage dream and built a gyrocopter! It was<br />

really fun and I flew hundreds <strong>of</strong> hours over North Caicos,<br />

Middle Caicos and East Caicos. It became known as <strong>the</strong><br />

“flying lawn chairs” or “bicycle in <strong>the</strong> sky.” It was a tandem<br />

design and I took many people flying. Unfortunately,<br />

in April 2017 I had an engine failure on take-<strong>of</strong>f and<br />

crashed into a hillside. We walked away but <strong>the</strong> gyro was<br />

destroyed.<br />

My mo<strong>the</strong>r died in 2016 and her ashes were brought<br />

back to be spread over <strong>the</strong> sea at Mudjin Harbour and<br />

<strong>the</strong> “Circle <strong>of</strong> Hope” was dedicated to her. There was a<br />

memorial ceremony attended by family and members <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> community. They called her “Mama Dale” and she was<br />

greatly loved.<br />

We bought a condo in Florida to be closer to medical<br />

care. The resort was sold by Mr. Gill and renamed<br />

Dragon Cay Resort. In 2019, we sold our house on King<br />

Hill. The couple were sitting in Mudjin Bar and Grill and<br />

<strong>the</strong> bartender, Garnet, mentioned our house was for<br />

sale. They came up to look and we had a meeting on <strong>the</strong><br />

screen porch. During that meeting and from <strong>the</strong>n on, it<br />

just flowed smoothly. They were not even looking to buy<br />

a house, but <strong>the</strong> view was too beautiful to pass up. The<br />

husband was a pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ology and his wife mentioned<br />

teaching at <strong>the</strong> local school. What a perfect match<br />

for Middle Caicos!<br />

It was time for our departure and our move to Florida.<br />

Pastor Williams had a church ceremony and we received<br />

a beautiful plaque thanking us for our contributions and<br />

<strong>of</strong>fering God’s blessing<br />

for our future. The church<br />

was an integral part <strong>of</strong> our<br />

life on Middle Caicos and a<br />

meaningful and wonderful<br />

experience for us.<br />

Our 30 years in Middle<br />

Caicos were filled with<br />

many difficult challenges<br />

that were met and overcome.<br />

We have many<br />

happy and satisfying<br />

memories. However, <strong>the</strong><br />

memories that we cherish<br />

most are <strong>the</strong> people<br />

<strong>of</strong> Middle Caicos and <strong>the</strong><br />

rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong>. Had it not been<br />

for <strong>the</strong>ir love and support,<br />

we would have not succeeded.<br />

Thank you and<br />

God bless you all. a<br />

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feature<br />

Opposite page: Divers love <strong>the</strong> area <strong>of</strong>f French Cay for <strong>the</strong> large number <strong>of</strong> Caribbean reef sharks that call it home.<br />

Above: Graceful sea turtles are ano<strong>the</strong>r common sight across <strong>the</strong> waters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />


Treasures on <strong>the</strong> Reef<br />

The TCI’s dive sites are a cornucopia <strong>of</strong> opportunity.<br />

By Kelly Currington<br />

Bags packed . . . dive gear checked . . . underwater camera ready to go . . . and you’re <strong>of</strong>f! No matter<br />

where your dive destination may be, <strong>the</strong>re is undoubtedly a list <strong>of</strong> dive sites and locations for you to plan<br />

your best diving. But <strong>the</strong>re is <strong>of</strong>ten much, much more to a dive site than any map can show you.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 47

In <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, our dive sites have so<br />

much to <strong>of</strong>fer in topography and interesting creatures<br />

and features . . . it’s like having an underwater amusement<br />

park at our disposal! As a dive pr<strong>of</strong>essional here<br />

since 2013, I’ve logged thousands <strong>of</strong> dives on <strong>the</strong>se sites,<br />

and each one has its own personality and vibe.<br />

I would love to tell you about my “favorite” dive site<br />

but as you will see, <strong>the</strong>y are all my favorites for different<br />

reasons. When you spend time on <strong>the</strong>se sites, you start<br />

to notice all <strong>the</strong> quirky and interesting characteristics that<br />

make <strong>the</strong>m special and <strong>the</strong>y all hold <strong>the</strong>ir own hidden<br />

riches. Let me take you on a treasure hunt . . .<br />

Providenciales north<br />

We’ll start on <strong>the</strong> north side <strong>of</strong> Providenciales where <strong>the</strong><br />

backdrop is world-famous Grace Bay Beach. The sites<br />

along Grace Bay mostly share a common topography and<br />

layout. It’s <strong>the</strong> shallowness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sites east <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> break<br />

in <strong>the</strong> barrier reef that makes <strong>the</strong>m different from o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

sites in <strong>the</strong> country. Here, Pinnacles, Ca<strong>the</strong>dral, Piranha<br />

Cove and Coral Gables hold many surprises for divers.<br />

The sunlight streams through <strong>the</strong> water and bounces <strong>of</strong>f<br />

<strong>the</strong> sugar-white sand reflecting like a disco ball in a nightclub.<br />

The abundance <strong>of</strong> nutrients here contributes to <strong>the</strong><br />

wealth <strong>of</strong> reef fish. One thing I love most about diving<br />

Provo’s north side are <strong>the</strong> hard-to-find I always find here.<br />

But you must slow down and forget about all <strong>the</strong> big stuff<br />

in order to find <strong>the</strong>m!<br />

The layout <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se sites are spur and groove formations<br />

<strong>of</strong> sand chutes and coral ridges running from south<br />

to north—where a mini wall drops <strong>of</strong>f to a mere 100 feet,<br />

which is shallow for <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos. I love milling<br />

around in <strong>the</strong> sand, trying to focus on each grain to see if<br />

it’s actually sand or a tiny creature impostering as sand.<br />

Anyone can see a shark cruising by or a turtle meandering<br />

along <strong>the</strong> reef, but to find something like a netted<br />

olive pushing a path below <strong>the</strong> surface <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sand is<br />

quite an accomplishment, or maybe you’ll see <strong>the</strong> tip <strong>of</strong><br />

its whorl as it drills into <strong>the</strong> sand—ei<strong>the</strong>r way it’s a special<br />

find on any dive.<br />

You might even see a magic carpet suddenly lift <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong><br />

sand and glide towards <strong>the</strong> coral. What is this creature?<br />

Why, it’s a peacock flounder. It blends in so perfectly<br />

with <strong>the</strong> sand that only a sharp and attentive eye will<br />

see it before it moves. As it drifts from <strong>the</strong> sand to coral,<br />

<strong>the</strong> magic continues as stunning violet circles suddenly<br />

appear and <strong>the</strong> previous white carpet is now a beautiful<br />

tapestry <strong>of</strong> color.<br />

Next, your eyes are drawn to a slit pore sea rod. Why?<br />

Because you know <strong>the</strong>re’s ano<strong>the</strong>r jewel that lives on<br />

<strong>the</strong>se s<strong>of</strong>t corals and is relatively rare in <strong>the</strong>se waters.<br />

These little gems are small marine gastropod mollusks,<br />

Peacock flounders blend so perfectly with <strong>the</strong> sand that only a sharp and attentive eye will seem <strong>the</strong>m before <strong>the</strong>y move.<br />

48 www.timespub.tc

and <strong>the</strong>ir mantle resembles a human fingerprint in deep<br />

yellow and black striations. The only crime <strong>the</strong>se fingerprints<br />

are used for is stealing time while you admire<br />

<strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Providenciales northwest<br />

Let’s head around to <strong>the</strong> northwest side <strong>of</strong> Providenciales<br />

where <strong>the</strong>re’s a whole new landscape waiting to be<br />

explored. The reef is deeper here and <strong>the</strong> wall drops<br />

<strong>of</strong>f to staggering depths. Eel Garden, The Dome and<br />

Amphi<strong>the</strong>atre, among o<strong>the</strong>rs, hold opportunities for<br />

encounters with incredible marine life and will broaden<br />

your knowledge <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> creatures that call this place home.<br />

Caribbean reef sharks are regulars here, making appearances<br />

nearly every dive, so you can spend your time<br />

looking for more inconspicuous critters without feeling<br />

like you’re missing <strong>the</strong> sharks!<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> more comical creatures I have encountered<br />

here are banded clinging crabs, which live in <strong>the</strong> shelter<br />

<strong>of</strong> different types <strong>of</strong> sea anemones. They look like little<br />

dancing Ewoks! Fuzzy faces and a little side shuffle as<br />

<strong>the</strong>y play hide-and-seek in <strong>the</strong> tentacles <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir host will<br />

have you giggling, and probably flooding your mask.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r obscure resident found along this stretch<br />

<strong>of</strong> reef is <strong>the</strong> yellowhead jawfish, a bottom-dwelling,<br />

burrowing little fish that is so adorable you may think<br />

If you look carefully, you might spot a male yellowhead jawfish with<br />

a mouthful <strong>of</strong> eggs.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 49

This “garden” <strong>of</strong> garden eels will mysteriously vanish if you get too close! It’s a treat if you can get close enough to see <strong>the</strong>ir smiles.<br />

it isn’t real. As <strong>the</strong>y float or hover above <strong>the</strong>ir burrows,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y resemble tiny ghosts doing a not-so-synchronized<br />

dance—sort <strong>of</strong> a Casper chorus line. They appear to be<br />

all white, but if you take your time and approach slowly,<br />

you will see <strong>the</strong>ir heads are pale yellow and <strong>the</strong>ir eyes<br />

are blue. If you approach too quickly, <strong>the</strong>y will vanish<br />

into <strong>the</strong>ir burrows in <strong>the</strong> blink <strong>of</strong> an eye. If you are lucky,<br />

you might see a male with a mouth full <strong>of</strong> eggs, and if<br />

you’re extra lucky, you will get to witness <strong>the</strong> male spitting<br />

those little babies out, aerating <strong>the</strong>m and sucking<br />

<strong>the</strong>m back in a split second—without losing a single egg!<br />

As you comb over <strong>the</strong> terrain looking for movement<br />

and color, you may suddenly see something that resembles<br />

coral, but you feel it may be watching you. If you stay<br />

very still and be patient, that piece <strong>of</strong> coral will start to<br />

move and change shape, color and texture. It turns out to<br />

be a cheeky little octopus hiding from you in plain sight!<br />

It will keep its eyes on you as it reaches each tentacle into<br />

crevices in search <strong>of</strong> a snack. Seeing one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se intelligent<br />

invertebrates out during <strong>the</strong> day is a treat because<br />

<strong>the</strong>y normally hunt at night. Along North West Point, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

are seen regularly out during daylight; do you have a<br />

sharp enough eye to find <strong>the</strong>m?<br />

I couldn’t talk about this area without mentioning<br />

The Dome has transformed into an artificial reef, where hundreds <strong>of</strong> tiny creatures have made <strong>the</strong> frame home.<br />

50 www.timespub.tc

<strong>the</strong> best game <strong>of</strong> peek-a-boo ever! We have <strong>the</strong>se adorable<br />

little eels called garden eels, because <strong>the</strong>y look like<br />

a “garden <strong>of</strong> eels.” They are cute members <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> conger<br />

eel family and like a mirage, <strong>the</strong> closer you get <strong>the</strong>y<br />

start to vanish! It’s quite a challenge to slowly approach<br />

and see if you can get close enough to see <strong>the</strong>ir smiles.<br />

You always want to make sure you are not laying on <strong>the</strong><br />

bottom and that your fins aren’t digging into <strong>the</strong> sand<br />

because you could be unknowingly causing damage to<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir burrows or o<strong>the</strong>r macro life.<br />

No visit to <strong>the</strong> northwest side would be complete without<br />

talking about The Dome. The remnants <strong>of</strong> an early<br />

1990s game show have now transformed into an artificial<br />

reef. Although <strong>the</strong> structure itself is a huge draw for divers,<br />

it’s <strong>the</strong> marine life who use it as shelter that are <strong>the</strong><br />

real attraction. This structure is quite a sight to behold,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> story behind it is almost too outlandish to be true<br />

Spinyhead blennies use as home <strong>the</strong> pores <strong>of</strong> sponges that cover <strong>the</strong><br />

structure <strong>of</strong> The Dome.<br />

(but it is), however, <strong>the</strong> remains have become a much<br />

more valuable part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> reef than its original purpose.<br />

This will be <strong>the</strong> best “Easter Egg” hunt you could go on.<br />

Hundreds <strong>of</strong> tiny creatures have made <strong>the</strong> frame <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

dome <strong>the</strong>ir home, but can you find <strong>the</strong>m? Secretary and<br />

spinyhead blennies use as homes <strong>the</strong> deserted tubeworm<br />

holes or <strong>the</strong> pores <strong>of</strong> sponges and <strong>the</strong>y cover <strong>the</strong> entire<br />

structure. Freshly hatched fry fill <strong>the</strong> nooks and crannies<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> frame, and bearded fireworms move around inconspicuously.<br />

In and around <strong>the</strong> main structure you will <strong>of</strong>ten see<br />

huge channel clinging crabs, green morays and juvenile<br />

hairy clinging crabs using <strong>the</strong> artificial tube sponge inside<br />

<strong>the</strong> main structure as a hiding place. They are usually<br />

accompanied by a spotted moray laying <strong>the</strong> length <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> tubes. Don’t overlook <strong>the</strong> white sand fields and coral<br />

ridges surrounding this artificial reef; <strong>the</strong>y are full <strong>of</strong> life<br />

and surprises! One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> little trinkets here are stareye<br />

Stareye hermit crabs shuffle across <strong>the</strong> sand carrying <strong>the</strong>ir house.<br />

hermit crabs shuffling across <strong>the</strong> sand. They are full <strong>of</strong><br />

personality and <strong>the</strong>ir beautiful blue eyes will hypnotize<br />

you. They will duck inside <strong>the</strong>ir shells at first sight and<br />

<strong>the</strong>n slowly peek those baby blues out and see if you are<br />

still <strong>the</strong>re. When comfortable, <strong>the</strong>y will carry on with sand<br />

sifting and scuttling and amuse you with <strong>the</strong>ir comical<br />

antics.<br />

Before you leave this structure, take a very slow and<br />

careful look on <strong>the</strong> frame for patches <strong>of</strong> purple. These<br />

beautiful iridescent patches are tiny sargent major eggs.<br />

They’ll be guarded by a male who’s normally white color<br />

will now be a bright violet as a warning to you. Keep your<br />

distance and watch him as he carefully fans his young to<br />

keep <strong>the</strong>m clean and picks algae from <strong>the</strong>m. They are tiny<br />

pearls <strong>of</strong> life . . . look but never touch.<br />

West Caicos<br />

West Caicos is currently an uninhabited island with a<br />

unique history and some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most dramatic walls for<br />

diving in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos. The great thing here is <strong>the</strong><br />

diversity <strong>of</strong> site layouts, covering almost every type <strong>of</strong><br />

preference. Starting at <strong>the</strong> north end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island you<br />

have Elephant Ear Canyon, and you can dive all <strong>the</strong> way<br />

to <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rnmost site at Spanish Anchor, covering a<br />

wide variety <strong>of</strong> topography.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> massive sectors <strong>of</strong> white sand at nor<strong>the</strong>rn sites,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is a wealth <strong>of</strong> macro life to be experienced by <strong>the</strong><br />

eagle-eyed diver. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coolest visuals is dropping<br />

in, looking down and seeing <strong>the</strong> extensive maze <strong>of</strong> trails<br />

laid out by all <strong>the</strong> conch—called “conch highways.” The<br />

fun starts with trying to figure out which way <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

traveling and following <strong>the</strong> path and finding <strong>the</strong> driver.<br />

Conchs are fascinating creatures who can entertain a<br />

diver for an entire dive.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 51

Can you see <strong>the</strong> face <strong>of</strong> a frog in this green sponge?<br />

If you like smaller subjects to search for, one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

little trinkets you will find in <strong>the</strong> sand here during <strong>the</strong><br />

Spring are flapping dingbats. (No, I’m not talking about<br />

your dive buddy.) They are tiny sea slugs with wings that<br />

wrap up around <strong>the</strong>ir bodies and if <strong>the</strong>y are disturbed,<br />

those wings flap like crazy—all housed within a creature<br />

<strong>the</strong> size <strong>of</strong> a grain <strong>of</strong> rice! You will need perfect buoyancy,<br />

patience and a keen eye to find <strong>the</strong>se jewels.<br />

Let’s not forget some inconspicuous fauna here. Just<br />

like we see animal shapes in clouds as <strong>the</strong>y float past,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re are some interesting images that appear in coral.<br />

For instance, <strong>the</strong>re is a green sponge that looks like <strong>the</strong><br />

face <strong>of</strong> a frog. Once you see it, <strong>the</strong> personality appears,<br />

and you may find yourself talking to this “frog”—it makes<br />

me giggle every time. There’s also a coral head that<br />

resembles an old, bent witch. She sits alone in <strong>the</strong> sand<br />

waiting for her next unsuspecting diver.<br />

As you move fur<strong>the</strong>r south along <strong>the</strong> reef, <strong>the</strong><br />

topography changes from open sand flats to a more<br />

concentrated coral coverage with isolated rubbly areas.<br />

But fear not, <strong>the</strong>se sites hold some serious gifts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

own. Horizontal swim-throughs, an entire network <strong>of</strong> hidey-holes<br />

for creatures and an old Spanish anchor are just<br />

some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ingredients that make West Caicos a definite<br />

favorite among divers.<br />

There is one creature that is so rarely seen divers think<br />

he is an urban myth, but I assure you he is real. He is a<br />

broadbanded moray who has inhabited a specific coral<br />

head along West Caicos for a minimum <strong>of</strong> 14 years, but<br />

he is a master at hiding. We affectionately named him<br />

Benny and he’s an oddity for sure. If you are lucky, and he<br />

is feeling social, you will catch a glimpse <strong>of</strong> him peering<br />

out from his den, which he has shared with a ruby star<br />

and banded coral shrimp for <strong>the</strong> last 8 years; it’s a house<br />

party at Benny’s! Did you bring your invitation?<br />

In <strong>the</strong> swim-throughs at Gullies and Spanish Anchor,<br />

you will initially think that <strong>the</strong> accomplishment <strong>of</strong> making<br />

it to <strong>the</strong> exit is <strong>the</strong> best part, but by now you know I have<br />

a different viewpoint on things. The thrill <strong>of</strong> swimming<br />

Seahorses are a favorite <strong>of</strong> almost every diver. They easily move with<br />

<strong>the</strong> ebb and flow <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> water.<br />

Benny is a moray eel who has inhabited a coral head along West<br />

Caicos for at least 14 years.<br />

though a horizontal chute is no doubt fun, but what’s<br />

even more exciting is seeing it for more than just a formation<br />

to “get through.” Creatures that like to be hidden<br />

use <strong>the</strong>se covered spaces as home. Eels, crabs and lobsters,<br />

who all hunt under <strong>the</strong> cover <strong>of</strong> night, hide here<br />

until <strong>the</strong> sunlight is replaced by moonlight. If you go slow<br />

and take time to look in, up and around, you will find life<br />

everywhere in this hidden realm.<br />

52 www.timespub.tc

When a coney is in its xanthic phase, it is such a bright saturated shade <strong>of</strong> yellow it appears gold.<br />

There is an old anchor embedded in <strong>the</strong> side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

swim-through at Spanish Anchor, giving <strong>the</strong> site its<br />

name. The amazing thing is that many divers swim right<br />

past and never see it. The effects <strong>of</strong> being in <strong>the</strong> sea for<br />

many years have transformed <strong>the</strong> anchor into a colorful<br />

ornament that blends so well it can be invisible. Can you<br />

find it?<br />

There are two little residents here that are favorites<br />

<strong>of</strong> almost every diver: <strong>the</strong> seahorse and <strong>the</strong> shortnose<br />

batfish. Seahorses are skilled in resembling <strong>the</strong> flora <strong>the</strong>y<br />

hold onto and moving with <strong>the</strong> ebb and flow <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> water,<br />

making <strong>the</strong>m extremely difficult to find. When this diamond<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea is found, take care to admire, smile,<br />

giggle a little and make mental notes. If using a camera,<br />

please keep <strong>the</strong> flashes and lights to a bare minimum<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y are extremely sensitive to light and will seek a<br />

new hiding place. The shortnose batfish is just as hard to<br />

find, but well worth <strong>the</strong> hunt. It blends in perfectly with<br />

<strong>the</strong> sea bottom and moves very slowly along <strong>the</strong> bottom.<br />

You may be a little confused at first sight <strong>of</strong> this strange<br />

hodgepodge <strong>of</strong> features, but nature has no cookie-cutter<br />

blueprint for life! This cutie has chicken wing legs, a flat<br />

head with protruding lips, a scrawny tail and always looks<br />

grumpy. It is not your classic beautifully colored reef fish,<br />

but it has much character, and if you discover one you<br />

will forget about looking for anything else.<br />

French Cay<br />

When all <strong>the</strong> stars align and <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r is permittable,<br />

you can make your way south to a tiny plot <strong>of</strong> land<br />

called French Cay. This bird sanctuary is <strong>the</strong> backdrop<br />

to breathtaking walls that drop <strong>of</strong>f into <strong>the</strong> abyss. The<br />

most common reason divers love this area is <strong>the</strong> large<br />

number <strong>of</strong> Caribbean reef and nurse sharks that call this<br />

area home, which on its own is reason enough to dive<br />

here. The “big stuff” is easy to see and always a thrill, but<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is so much more here if you take <strong>the</strong> time to look.<br />

There is a fish here who stands out against all <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r colors <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> landscape, its complexion so brilliant<br />

it will stop you in your tracks. When a coney is in its xanthic<br />

phase, it is such a bright saturated shade <strong>of</strong> yellow it<br />

appears gold. At closer inspection, you will see blue dots<br />

decorating <strong>the</strong> gold hue. Coneys’ expressions are priceless<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y try to keep an eye on you while pretending to<br />

retreat, but <strong>the</strong>y are actually moving towards you when<br />

you look away; <strong>the</strong>y’re sneaky like that.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r creature I have only seen at French Cay is<br />

<strong>the</strong> cherubfish. This bright violet fish with a golden face<br />

is also called a pygmy angelfish and lives in holes and<br />

crevices in coral heads. Extremely shy and elusive, your<br />

patience will be challenged. They are so cute that once<br />

you catch a glimpse <strong>of</strong> one, you will crave ano<strong>the</strong>r look—<br />

or two or three. I have spent an entire dive hovering in<br />

one spot waiting for one to come out and see me. Even if<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 53


Nurse sharks <strong>of</strong>ten sleep during <strong>the</strong> day and hunt for food at night.<br />

you don’t capture a photo or video <strong>of</strong> this gem, you leave<br />

with <strong>the</strong> memory <strong>of</strong> a very special encounter.<br />

I know I said <strong>the</strong> sharks are easy to see, because <strong>the</strong>y<br />

will swim directly at you without a care in <strong>the</strong> world, but<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is a very special shark here that has so much sass<br />

and personality that she’s worth finding. She is a juvenile<br />

nurse shark whom I’ve had <strong>the</strong> pleasure <strong>of</strong> watching grow<br />

from a two-foot pup into a juvenile who’s earned her spot<br />

on <strong>the</strong> reef among <strong>the</strong> big fish. She is easily identified by<br />

her dorsal fin—<strong>the</strong> top has been sheared <strong>of</strong>f so it does<br />

not have a point, but ra<strong>the</strong>r a straight edge. It is surmised<br />

that this happened when she was very small, <strong>the</strong> cartilage<br />

was still s<strong>of</strong>t, and she rammed herself under a coral ridge<br />

while hunting. At <strong>the</strong> time <strong>of</strong> this article, she is about<br />

four feet in length and a definite force to be reckoned<br />

with. She sleeps during <strong>the</strong> day and will tolerate some<br />

company as long as her space is not invaded. If you see<br />

her napping, please just admire her from a respectable<br />

distance, whisper, “Hello FinFin” and let her rest. She will<br />

have a busy night <strong>of</strong> hunting and wreaking havoc when<br />

<strong>the</strong> sun goes down!<br />

Respect <strong>the</strong> ocean<br />

You can look at a dive site map and find out <strong>the</strong> depth,<br />

direction and basic features <strong>of</strong> a site, and you should<br />

always pay attention to <strong>the</strong>se maps. But also, always dive<br />

every site with an investigative eye, compassionate heart<br />

and a respect for <strong>the</strong> environment.<br />

Remember, it’s not how far you go on your dive, it’s<br />

<strong>the</strong> encounters you have along <strong>the</strong> way and <strong>the</strong> knowledge<br />

you gain that differentiate a good dive from an epic<br />

dive. Slow down, look around and you will find “gold”<br />

everywhere. The jewels and treasures that call <strong>the</strong>se<br />

waters home are more valuable than any doubloon! a<br />

54 www.timespub.tc

green pages<br />

Newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources<br />

Head <strong>of</strong>fice: Church Folly, Grand Turk, tel 649 946 2801 • fax 649 946 1895<br />

• Astwood Street, South Caicos, tel 649 946 3306 • fax 946 3710<br />

• National Environmental Centre, Lower Bight Road, Providenciales<br />

Parks Division, tel 649 941 51<strong>22</strong> • fax 649 946 4793<br />

Fisheries Division, tel 649 946 4017 • fax 649 946 4793<br />

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

This is an adult male rock iguana on Long Cay. Feeding iguanas human food to lure <strong>the</strong>m out for tourists is detrimental to <strong>the</strong>ir health and<br />

<strong>the</strong> welfare <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> eco-system on which <strong>the</strong>y depend.<br />


Food for Thought . . .<br />

Not Iguanas<br />

How does tourism impact <strong>the</strong> endemic TCI Rock Iguana?<br />

By Devyn Hannon, Jacqui Taff, Sedona Stone, Maddie Adkison, Lily Finn, Amber Johnson, Abbey Stewart,<br />

Luke Monteiro, Kerry Bresnahan and Morgan Karns, The School for Field Studies<br />

Hiking in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>: bright sunshine, stunning ocean views and . . . iguanas? Every tourist<br />

dreams <strong>of</strong> seeing unfamiliar new creatures when <strong>the</strong>y take a trip to a tropical oasis. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rarest<br />

creatures to see is <strong>the</strong> cold-blooded Turks & Caicos Rock Iguana (Cyclura carinata), currently found on<br />

only a few <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands.<br />

Edited by Julia Locke, Waterfront Assistant, The School for Field Studies<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 55

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

In <strong>the</strong> past, <strong>the</strong> rock iguanas inhabited all <strong>the</strong> islands<br />

and cays in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. This species<br />

is native to Turks & Caicos and assists with seed dispersal<br />

for native TCI plants, in contrast to <strong>the</strong> invasive<br />

green iguana (Iguana iguana) that damages native wildlife<br />

in Florida, and has recently invaded Providenciales.<br />

Unfortunately, populations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> native rock iguana have<br />

disappeared from 13 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 40 islands and cays <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos over <strong>the</strong> past 20 years. Because <strong>of</strong> this<br />

loss, <strong>the</strong> species is now designated as endangered on <strong>the</strong><br />

International Union <strong>of</strong> Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature’s Red List.<br />

Hunting, habitat reduction from development, human<br />

disturbances and <strong>the</strong> introduction <strong>of</strong> exotic species that<br />

ei<strong>the</strong>r outcompete <strong>the</strong>m for food or hunt <strong>the</strong>m are all<br />

factors that have contributed to <strong>the</strong> decline <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> native<br />

iguana population in TCI. As a result, <strong>the</strong>y are now limited<br />

to a few smaller islands like Big Ambergris Cay, which<br />

inhabits <strong>the</strong> largest subpopulation <strong>of</strong> this species.<br />

In an effort to expand <strong>the</strong> reduced range and population<br />

size <strong>of</strong> this endangered reptile, 400 TCI Rock Iguanas<br />

were relocated in 2001 from Ambergris Cay to Long Cay,<br />

<strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn coast <strong>of</strong> South Caicos inside <strong>the</strong> Admiral<br />

Cockburn Land and Sea National Park. The population<br />

<strong>the</strong>re appears to be thriving currently, but increased tourism<br />

on Long Cay could affect <strong>the</strong>ir behavior and normal<br />

diet as humans lure <strong>the</strong>m into <strong>the</strong> camera frame with<br />

food for <strong>the</strong>ir social media photos.<br />

Although many people think feeding wild animals<br />

is harmless, even helpful, studies have shown that <strong>the</strong><br />

long-term effects on diet and behavior can be detrimental<br />

to a population. A study on a similar species from <strong>the</strong><br />

Bahamas found that iguanas fed by tourists were more<br />

likely to consume trash and non-native foods, which disrupts<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir digestive system. To observe whe<strong>the</strong>r this<br />

trend occurs in <strong>the</strong> TCI, students from The School for<br />

Field Studies (located on South Caicos) collected data on<br />

<strong>the</strong> behaviors <strong>of</strong> iguanas from two beaches — one frequented<br />

by tourists, and one seldom visited — on Long<br />

Cay. The results <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se observations suggest that TCI<br />

Rock Iguanas at tourist-visited sites have become accustomed<br />

to being fed. The following excerpt from our field<br />

notes illustrates this clearly:<br />

We hopped <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> boat at Long Cay into <strong>the</strong> clear<br />

blue water and waddled our way to <strong>the</strong> sandy shore, not<br />

nearly as adept at traversing uneven terrain as our scaly<br />

subjects. As we waded through <strong>the</strong> water, a small boat<br />

These three male rock iguanas are eagerly awaiting a handout.<br />

filled with tourists whizzed by us, also on <strong>the</strong>ir way to<br />

see <strong>the</strong> iguanas that afternoon. Walking southwest along<br />

<strong>the</strong> shore, we immediately noticed five eager iguanas<br />

confidently running up to us. We enjoyed <strong>the</strong>ir fearless<br />

attitudes as we took note <strong>of</strong> habitat type, as well as <strong>the</strong><br />

age and sex <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> lizards, and we hoped to continue seeing<br />

<strong>the</strong>m along <strong>the</strong> rim <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island. However, as we<br />

continued far<strong>the</strong>r along this beach, <strong>the</strong>re appeared to be<br />

fewer iguanas that made <strong>the</strong>ir presence known.<br />

Traveling up <strong>the</strong> path towards <strong>the</strong> top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island,<br />

where tourists <strong>of</strong>ten hike and feed iguanas, we came<br />

across several more iguanas as <strong>the</strong>y ran down <strong>the</strong><br />

well-trodden path to greet us and <strong>the</strong> tourists ahead. We<br />

were soon overwhelmed by <strong>the</strong> iguanas on <strong>the</strong> path, struggling<br />

to take note <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir age and sex before we were<br />

swarmed again. Many were bold enough to approach us,<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>ring at our feet like golden retrievers running to<br />

<strong>the</strong> door when <strong>the</strong>ir owners arrive home. It was exciting<br />

to see such a rare species scampering across our toes,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> similarities between <strong>the</strong>ir behavior and that <strong>of</strong> a<br />

domesticated pet weighed heavily on our minds.<br />

When we returned to Long Cay <strong>the</strong> next morning, we<br />

trekked along <strong>the</strong> less visited shoreline, far away from<br />

<strong>the</strong> path commonly used by tourists. We were greeted by<br />

fewer iguanas than <strong>the</strong> day before, spotting only four in<br />

total. Unlike <strong>the</strong> iguanas regularly fed by tourists, those<br />

we spotted did not approach us, but scattered into <strong>the</strong><br />

brush and did not come clearly into sight, eager to escape<br />

our presence and find safety in <strong>the</strong> vegetation.<br />


56 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

The clear contrast in iguana behavior between both<br />

locations demonstrated <strong>the</strong> immense impact that unnatural<br />

feeding can have on an animal population. The iguanas<br />

on <strong>the</strong> first beach had clearly habituated to humans and<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir food, while those on <strong>the</strong> second beach exhibited <strong>the</strong><br />

species’ natural wariness.<br />

We can surmise that this drastic change in iguana<br />

behavior is correlated with human feeding because <strong>the</strong>re<br />

was little to no change <strong>of</strong> habitat type between <strong>the</strong>se two<br />

sites. Iguanas will return repeatedly to a feeding site if<br />

transporting seeds around <strong>the</strong> island if <strong>the</strong>y are too full<br />

<strong>of</strong> food hand-delivered to <strong>the</strong>m. As a result, <strong>the</strong> overall<br />

environment and ecosystem on Long Cay may shift out <strong>of</strong><br />

balance.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r potential consequence is aggression towards<br />

tourists and o<strong>the</strong>r iguanas. Male rock iguanas are naturally<br />

very territorial, and human provisioning makes <strong>the</strong>m<br />

more likely to ramp up that aggression as <strong>the</strong>y compete<br />

for <strong>the</strong> tourists’ handouts. In fact, while collecting data<br />

on <strong>the</strong> tourist beach, one male iguana jumped at and<br />

This is <strong>the</strong> tourist path on Long Cay where iguanas are fed.<br />


<strong>the</strong>y are consistently successful, so it comes as no surprise<br />

that <strong>the</strong> tourist site was filled with <strong>the</strong>m. With so<br />

many people coming to visit and feed <strong>the</strong>se iguanas,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y will become more dependent on human provisioning,<br />

leading <strong>the</strong>m to forage less for <strong>the</strong>mselves and to<br />

consume food that does not have all <strong>the</strong> nourishment<br />

<strong>the</strong>y need. An unbalanced diet will give <strong>the</strong>m less energy<br />

to escape predators and reproduce. Plus, <strong>the</strong>y will fail<br />

to fulfill <strong>the</strong>ir ecological role <strong>of</strong> pruning shrubbery and<br />

scratched a member <strong>of</strong> our group, perhaps frustrated at<br />

not being fed. This was a trained group <strong>of</strong> students, with<br />

no food to <strong>of</strong>fer, so we can only imagine how bouts <strong>of</strong><br />

aggression may increase in <strong>the</strong> future when more tourists<br />

lure iguanas with food.<br />

These unfortunate effects <strong>of</strong> tourists feeding wildlife<br />

can be seen all around <strong>the</strong> world. In <strong>the</strong> quest for a photo,<br />

vacationers have been attacked by monkeys in Thailand<br />

and South Africa, kangaroos in Australia, and bison in<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 57

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Yellowstone National Park. These animals are becoming<br />

accustomed to <strong>the</strong> food that tourists are giving <strong>the</strong>m,<br />

possibly leading <strong>the</strong>m to attack each o<strong>the</strong>r in competition<br />

for that food, or humans that do not provide any. As mentioned,<br />

<strong>the</strong> foods normally <strong>of</strong>fered by tourists, such as<br />

fruit or granola bars, are terrible for <strong>the</strong> animals’ digestive<br />

system and overall health. Fur<strong>the</strong>rmore, <strong>the</strong>ir natural<br />

foraging abilities will disappear if generations become<br />

accustomed to humans feeding <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

As exciting as <strong>the</strong>se incredible animals can be up<br />

close, our study demonstrates <strong>the</strong> rapid, negative effects<br />

that tourist feedings can have on iguanas and o<strong>the</strong>r wild<br />

animals. Tourists who wish to observe <strong>the</strong>se wonderful<br />

critters should grab a pair <strong>of</strong> binoculars, ra<strong>the</strong>r than food,<br />

to get a good look at <strong>the</strong> iguanas on Little Water Cay’s<br />

boardwalk experience. After all, observing an animal’s<br />

natural behaviors, undisturbed, in its native habitat is a<br />

far more rewarding and special experience. Most importantly,<br />

iguanas with natural diets and environments are<br />

happier and healthier, making <strong>the</strong> experience more fun<br />

and safer for both <strong>the</strong> iguanas and <strong>the</strong>ir admirers. The<br />

rock iguanas are also Belongers <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong>, and responsible iguana excursions are essential<br />

to help this species thrive. Leave smiles, not snacks! a<br />

For additional information about The School for Field<br />

Studies, visit www.fieldstudies.org or contact us on<br />

South Caicos at hhertler@fieldstudies.org.<br />

Below: This juvenile rock iguana is hidden in <strong>the</strong> brush <strong>of</strong> Long Cay.<br />


58 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

As part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> RumPowered Research survey, TCRF staff and volunteers came prepared to treat Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Over <strong>the</strong><br />

course <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> trip over 80 reproductive, large, priority colonies were treated across three dive sites at Drum Point, East Caicos.<br />

RumPowered Research<br />

East Caicos reefs surveyed thanks to distilleries.<br />

By Alizee Zimmermann and Don Stark ~ Photos By Patricia Guardiola<br />

East Caicos remains <strong>the</strong> largest uninhabited island in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos and is likely one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> largest,<br />

if not <strong>the</strong> largest, uninhabited island in <strong>the</strong> entire Caribbean region. In 2018, <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos Reef<br />

Fund (TCRF), funded by a grant from <strong>the</strong> EU’s BEST 2.0 program, conducted extensive surveys <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> reefs<br />

around <strong>the</strong> island to establish a baseline health assessment <strong>of</strong> its reefs. We found that those reefs were<br />

by far <strong>the</strong> healthiest reefs in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 59

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

In October <strong>2021</strong>, <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF)<br />

teamed up with Explorer Ventures, who operate <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos Explorer II liveaboard dive boat, to revisit <strong>the</strong><br />

reefs <strong>of</strong> East Caicos. This time <strong>the</strong> effort was funded by<br />

generous donations from three rum distilleries: Woody<br />

Creek Distillers, Bambara Rum and Mount Gay Barbados<br />

Rum. Thus, RumPowered Research was born. Additional<br />

funding came from private donations and from <strong>the</strong> Wine<br />

Cellar, TCI Greens, Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment<br />

(AGRRA) and Ocean Alchemists. For six days at sea<br />

aboard <strong>the</strong> TC Explorer II, <strong>the</strong> yacht crew, TCRF volunteer<br />

and staff divers and TCI Government Fisheries staff conducted<br />

surveys across <strong>the</strong> East Caicos reefs.<br />

The previous survey <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> East Caicos reefs occurred<br />

prior to <strong>the</strong> arrival <strong>of</strong> Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease<br />

(SCTLD) on TCI’s reefs, so one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> primary goals <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> week-long trip was to assess how SCTLD has affected<br />

those reefs which are exposed to virtually no human<br />

impact. Not only will <strong>the</strong>se surveys provide an updated<br />

baseline <strong>of</strong> reef health <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> East Caicos reefs, but will<br />

also provide insight into how impactful <strong>the</strong> human element<br />

is in <strong>the</strong> spread and veracity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> disease. Ten<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sixteen sites from <strong>the</strong> 2018 surveys were chosen<br />

for re-surveying as <strong>the</strong>se ten were previously observed<br />

to have <strong>the</strong> densest coral cover. The data is still being<br />

analyzed, but SCTLD is present on <strong>the</strong> East Caicos reefs.<br />

Given how healthy <strong>the</strong>se reefs were and how SCTLD<br />

has had a significant impact on o<strong>the</strong>r TCI reefs, TCRF<br />

staff and volunteers came prepared to treat <strong>the</strong> disease.<br />

Over <strong>the</strong> course <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> trip, over 80 reproductive, large,<br />

priority colonies were treated across three dive sites at<br />

Drum Point, East Caicos. Each coral colony treated was<br />

tagged so that its health can be monitored on an ongoing<br />

basis. In addition, over 20 roving diver surveys were conducted<br />

on o<strong>the</strong>r sites to assess how SCTLD has affected<br />

<strong>the</strong> East Caicos reefs.<br />

The trip also served as an opportunity to increase <strong>the</strong><br />

TCI’s capacity for reef health monitoring. TCRF’s Alizee<br />

Zimmermann and TCIG Fisheries Department’s Richard<br />

Archer trained and certified seven new volunteers in<br />

Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) methodologies,<br />

a system used by many researchers to assess and<br />

monitor reef health. AGRRA operates on a platform <strong>of</strong><br />

open-sourced information and education and continues<br />

to support TCRF efforts through data analysis, training<br />

materials and scientific advice.<br />

In October <strong>2021</strong>, TCRF teamed up with Explorer Ventures who operate<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos Explorer II liveaboard dive boat to revisit <strong>the</strong> reefs<br />

<strong>of</strong> East Caicos.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Above: Founded in 2010, <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is <strong>the</strong> only active environmental advocacy organization in <strong>the</strong> TCI.<br />

Below right: Over 20 roving diver surveys were conducted on o<strong>the</strong>r sites to assess how SCTLD has affected <strong>the</strong> East Caicos reefs.<br />

The <strong>2021</strong> expedition marks <strong>the</strong> inaugural<br />

RumPowered Research expedition. The plan is to use<br />

RumPowered Research to fund a variety <strong>of</strong> conservation<br />

work throughout <strong>the</strong> TCI as well as regionally. Explorer<br />

Ventures and TCRF have also begun discussions on future<br />

meaningful tourism itineraries. These would be special<br />

week-long trips open to <strong>the</strong> public who want to learn<br />

about and assist with <strong>the</strong> research work TCRF undertakes.<br />

Explorer Ventures, who also helped to underwrite<br />

<strong>the</strong> cost <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> trip, has worked with TCRF on numerous<br />

projects focused on protecting <strong>the</strong> local environment.<br />

Explorer Ventures is committed to enhancing sustainable<br />

operations and encouraging conservation worldwide. a<br />

Founded in 2010, <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is <strong>the</strong> only<br />

active environmental advocacy organization in <strong>the</strong> TCI. It<br />

is an all-volunteer-run organization that provides funding<br />

for education, research and conservation programs<br />

to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to<br />

preserve and protect <strong>the</strong> environment <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Our goal is to have at least 85% <strong>of</strong> all<br />

funds raised directed to programs. To donate or assist<br />

<strong>the</strong> TCRF in any way can contact us at www.TCReef.org.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />


For <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, <strong>the</strong>ir entire culture and existence revolve around <strong>the</strong> ocean and <strong>the</strong> coast.<br />

TCI Coastal Culture Values<br />

Culture. What is it? And why should we care?<br />

By Oshin Whyte<br />

If you had told me a year ago that I would be moving back home to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> (after<br />

living in England for six years) to study culture, I would most likely think that you are having a laugh. My<br />

earliest memory <strong>of</strong> structured exposure to my culture was when I was around nine and <strong>the</strong>n-Director <strong>of</strong><br />

Culture David Bowen created a culture club at my primary school, Oseta Jolly. He would visit once a week<br />

to tell us stories about our islands and ancestors, explain how to use bush medicine, sing folk songs and<br />

teach us to tie <strong>the</strong> maypole. I thoroughly enjoyed those afternoons. I always learnt something new, but<br />

most importantly, I genuinely felt like I was a part <strong>of</strong> something and that I belonged. It would not be until<br />

almost two decades later that I consciously think about culture and its importance.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

In 1979, anthropologist Raymond Williams made a<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r bold statement by saying, “Culture is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

two or three most complicated words in <strong>the</strong> English<br />

Language.” We would soon realise that he is correct, as<br />

decades later <strong>the</strong> definition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> term “culture” is still<br />

an area <strong>of</strong> debate in anthropology and sociology. Culture<br />

in and <strong>of</strong> itself is a dynamic process, and it is understood<br />

that people live culturally ra<strong>the</strong>r than in cultures. It is<br />

to society what memory is to individuals, and as such<br />

includes traditions that enlighten us on what has worked<br />

in <strong>the</strong> past. Encompassing <strong>the</strong> way people have learned to<br />

look at <strong>the</strong>mselves and <strong>the</strong> environment, it highlights an<br />

interconnection between humans and <strong>the</strong>ir landscapes.<br />

It is said that we stay alive by anchoring our existence<br />

to places. This interconnectedness between people’s way<br />

<strong>of</strong> life (culture) and <strong>the</strong> natural world can be so strong<br />

that removal from that environment can cause a feeling<br />

<strong>of</strong> loss <strong>of</strong> self and purpose. This is evident in communities<br />

where fishing is at <strong>the</strong> centre <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir social structure<br />

and identity. It is a way <strong>of</strong> life for <strong>the</strong>se communities and<br />

fishers <strong>of</strong>ten continue working in a failed fishery as <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

communities depend on fisheries for <strong>the</strong>ir cultural identity.<br />

The Turks & Caicos are no different in this regard.<br />

Our entire culture and existence revolve around <strong>the</strong><br />

ocean and <strong>the</strong> coast. We are an island nation and inevitably,<br />

ocean people. From salt raking to whale hunting to<br />

<strong>the</strong> now-booming tourism industry, <strong>the</strong> ocean has shaped<br />

and continues to shape who we are as a people and reinforces<br />

our sense <strong>of</strong> identity.<br />

However, this is not a topic that is spoken about<br />

extensively in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Persons tend to speak about<br />

<strong>the</strong> monetary benefits that <strong>the</strong>y get from <strong>the</strong> coast<br />

through marketing our sun, sand and sea but very rarely<br />

do we speak about <strong>the</strong> non-material benefits <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

coastal landscape and how this affects our human experience<br />

and our understanding <strong>of</strong> self. These non-material<br />

benefits that we get from <strong>the</strong> natural world are known as<br />

cultural values. They are not directly observable in <strong>the</strong><br />

physical landscape and manifest <strong>the</strong>mselves in <strong>the</strong> form<br />

<strong>of</strong> cognitive interactions with <strong>the</strong> environment, such as<br />

spiritual and/or religious experiences, inspiration for culture,<br />

sense <strong>of</strong> place, existence and bequest values and<br />

symbolic services. Due to <strong>the</strong>ir intangibility, cultural values<br />

have not been well documented and operationalized<br />

in marine spatial planning.<br />

From top: Fishing, such as <strong>the</strong>se fishermen spearfishing in South<br />

Caicos in <strong>the</strong> 1970s, is part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> shared heritage <strong>of</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

Islanders.<br />

The beautiful seas surrounding <strong>the</strong> country are one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> main reasons<br />

people choose to live in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, forging a deep connection<br />

with nature.<br />



<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 63

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

In late 2020, I was awarded a research scholarship<br />

by <strong>the</strong> South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute<br />

(SAERI) to investigate <strong>the</strong> coastal cultural values <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, under <strong>the</strong> supervision <strong>of</strong> Dr.<br />

Robert Fish and Dr. Mark Hampton at <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong><br />

Kent. Through this master’s research project, I strive<br />

to understand <strong>the</strong> various cultural values that persons<br />

associate with <strong>the</strong> coastal landscape <strong>of</strong> TCI and how <strong>the</strong>y<br />

can be used to inform marine spatial planning and <strong>the</strong><br />

decision-making process. While it is rare to speak about<br />

cultural values in TCI, it is even rarer to go into each community<br />

to capture <strong>the</strong> voices and thoughts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> people.<br />

I travelled to <strong>the</strong> islands <strong>of</strong> Providenciales, North<br />

Caicos, Middle Caicos, Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt<br />

Cay to document <strong>the</strong> non-material benefits residents get<br />

from <strong>the</strong> coast. These interviews focused on cultural values<br />

such as lifestyle, heritage, identity, attachment, well<br />

being and aes<strong>the</strong>tics.<br />

The most spoken-about value across <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> was<br />

aes<strong>the</strong>tic and interviewees found attributes such as <strong>the</strong><br />

crystal-clear waters, bird watching, watching <strong>the</strong> sunrise<br />

and hearing <strong>the</strong> waves crash aes<strong>the</strong>tically pleasing. They<br />

also found mangrove wetlands, salt ponds, iron-shore<br />

and marshland beautiful. They explained feeling a deep<br />

sense <strong>of</strong> joy and peace when experiencing <strong>the</strong>se things<br />

and places, which has a positive impact on <strong>the</strong>ir overall<br />

well being.<br />

“One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> things I value about <strong>the</strong> coast is <strong>the</strong><br />

beauty. I like <strong>the</strong> beauty. I like to see <strong>the</strong> waves coming<br />

up alongside <strong>the</strong> shore. Nature. The wonders <strong>of</strong> God and<br />

appreciating <strong>the</strong> inexplicability <strong>of</strong> how this awesome universe<br />

has been created.”<br />

–Interviewee, South Caicos<br />

The aes<strong>the</strong>tics <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coast is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> main reasons<br />

interviewees choose to live in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. They appreciate<br />

<strong>the</strong> fresh air, minimal pollution and ability to form<br />

a deep connection with nature. O<strong>the</strong>r prominent values<br />

were heritage, lifestyle and identity. These three values<br />

are interconnected, and it was seen that <strong>the</strong> heritage <strong>of</strong><br />

interviewees impacts <strong>the</strong>ir lifestyle, which in turn helps<br />

<strong>the</strong>m establish a sense <strong>of</strong> identity. On <strong>the</strong> island <strong>of</strong> Salt<br />

Cay, <strong>the</strong>se values were evoked through practices that are<br />

now regarded as dead or dying traditions such as whale<br />

hunting and salt raking. However, <strong>the</strong>se activities represent<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y are coming from as a people and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

shared heritage and residents have fond memories that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y look back on with pride.<br />

On o<strong>the</strong>r islands, <strong>the</strong>se values were enabled<br />

through practices such as fishing, South Caicos Regatta,<br />

Fisherman’s Day, Junkanoo, Valentine’s Day Cup and<br />

playing rake and scape. It is important to highlight <strong>the</strong><br />

practice <strong>of</strong> fishing, as it was one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> major industries in<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> and while tourism has taken <strong>the</strong> lead, fishing<br />

is still a revered practice, and <strong>the</strong> native fishermen take<br />

pride in <strong>the</strong>ir heritage.<br />

“I come from a family <strong>of</strong> hullers/ fishermen. My talent is<br />

handed down from my forefa<strong>the</strong>rs and I have to be proud<br />

<strong>of</strong> that.”<br />

–Interviewee, South Caicos<br />


Fishing—and eating <strong>the</strong> daily catch—is an important part <strong>of</strong> Turks & Caicos cultural heritage.<br />

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green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

“I feel left behind if I don’t go out exploring <strong>the</strong> ocean<br />

floors. It’s like a dead day to me. When I am out <strong>the</strong>re (on<br />

<strong>the</strong> sea) that is when I get my full energy. I feel energised.<br />

I am way happier and content.”<br />

–Interviewee, South Caicos<br />

These cultural practices serve as a means <strong>of</strong> tying <strong>the</strong><br />

community toge<strong>the</strong>r and creating a sense <strong>of</strong> toge<strong>the</strong>rness<br />

as well as rootedness.<br />

“The coastal impact here in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos is just as<br />

important as <strong>the</strong> sun shining every morning because <strong>the</strong><br />

beach is really Turks & Caicos. The beach, <strong>the</strong> donkeys,<br />

<strong>the</strong> sea, it is us. What ties us all toge<strong>the</strong>r beyond <strong>the</strong> people<br />

is <strong>the</strong> beach.”<br />

–Interviewee, Grand Turk<br />

To <strong>the</strong> people <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos, <strong>the</strong>se cultural<br />

values make life worth living. They are woven on <strong>the</strong><br />

very fabric <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir being and help <strong>the</strong>m understand <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

past— but most importantly, navigate <strong>the</strong>ir future. Each<br />

new development on <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> presents <strong>the</strong> opportunity<br />

for <strong>the</strong> inclusion <strong>of</strong> cultural values in <strong>the</strong> decision-making<br />

process. The coast provides far more than mere material<br />

benefits and it is time that <strong>the</strong> leaders <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> understand and put this at <strong>the</strong> forefront <strong>of</strong><br />

our master plan. Only through understanding who we are<br />

and where we’re coming from will we be able to understand<br />

where we are going.<br />

I came home to document <strong>the</strong> cultural values <strong>of</strong> my<br />

people. In <strong>the</strong> process, I found a piece <strong>of</strong> myself that I did<br />

not know was lost. This is precisely why this topic is so<br />

important. To each <strong>of</strong> my interviewees and <strong>the</strong> persons<br />

who have helped me along <strong>the</strong> way, thank you. You all<br />

have made this research project an enjoyable experience<br />

and have imparted so much wisdom that I will carry with<br />

me throughout this lifetime. I am forever grateful.<br />

I leave you, <strong>the</strong> reader, with this piece <strong>of</strong> advice that<br />

was bestowed upon me in Salt Cay, “When you respect a<br />

person for who <strong>the</strong>y are and <strong>the</strong>y respect you for who you<br />

are, life becomes so sweet.” a<br />


From top: Islanders partake in traditional maypole weaving as part <strong>of</strong><br />

National Heritage Month.<br />

Model sailboat building and racing recalls <strong>the</strong> days past when sloops<br />

were a necessary mode <strong>of</strong> transportation between islands and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

countries.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 65


around <strong>the</strong> islands<br />

Opposite page: Local student Janella Forbes won <strong>the</strong> film festival poster competition with this painting “Mo<strong>the</strong>r Earth.”<br />

Above: John Galleymore and Mat Matlack were present at <strong>the</strong> public screening <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir documentary “East Caicos Expedition” at <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos International Film Festival.<br />


Lights, Camera, Action!<br />

Third Annual Turks & Caicos International Film Festival.<br />

By Mat<strong>the</strong>w Matlack, Sea Turtle Creative<br />

When I received notice that <strong>the</strong> documentary short, “East Caicos Expedition” (www.eastcaicosexpedition.<br />

com), had been accepted into <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos International Film Festival, I was elated. I shot <strong>the</strong> film<br />

over three whirlwind days in October 2019 with <strong>the</strong> plan being to take <strong>the</strong> next six months to edit <strong>the</strong><br />

video and submit it to <strong>the</strong> 2020 festival. The festival was limited to a virtual event that year and I really<br />

wanted to attend in person IF <strong>the</strong> film was selected, so I made <strong>the</strong> tough decision to hold on to <strong>the</strong> film<br />

for ano<strong>the</strong>r year. But <strong>the</strong> wait made its acceptance into <strong>the</strong> festival even sweeter!<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 67

Much like <strong>the</strong> quick trip to film <strong>the</strong> expedition on<br />

East Caicos, I flew into Provo on Thursday, November<br />

11, <strong>2021</strong> and had an early flight on Sunday to get back<br />

home. I went to find The Shore Club while it was still<br />

daylight, so I knew where I was going <strong>the</strong> next morning.<br />

I became envious <strong>of</strong> those attending <strong>the</strong> Thursday events<br />

as I followed along on <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos International<br />

Film Festival (TCIFF) Instagram feed. I had hoped to experience<br />

a little Junkanoo, but <strong>the</strong> Thursday Night Fish Fry<br />

wasn’t happening at The Bight Park due to COVID. (I hear<br />

it’s coming back soon?) So, I headed down to <strong>the</strong> beach<br />

to take a dip and catch <strong>the</strong> sunset.<br />

On Friday morning, I was thrilled to be up early and<br />

excited for <strong>the</strong> film to screen that day. I headed to Shay<br />

Café in Le Velé Plaza for latté and breakfast. I met a kind<br />

young lady working <strong>the</strong>re and we exchanged YouTube<br />

channel information. I love meeting o<strong>the</strong>r people who<br />

are passionate about what <strong>the</strong>y are creating. There is so<br />

much life in that.<br />

The first session <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> day was <strong>the</strong> Young Turks Art<br />

Exhibition and Screenings. My film was included in this<br />

session because <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ancient petroglyphs found in <strong>the</strong><br />

cave. When I arrived, I came upon a media event for all <strong>the</strong><br />

youth who contributed paintings to <strong>the</strong> festival’s poster<br />

contest. I was able to peruse all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> wonderful pieces<br />

<strong>of</strong> art and fell in love with <strong>the</strong> winning poster “Mo<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Earth” by 17-year-old Janella Forbes.<br />

There were two films shown as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> art screenings<br />

and “East Caicos Expedition” was <strong>the</strong> second one.<br />

Festival Director Collin Burrows invited me up to introduce<br />

<strong>the</strong> film. It was a thrill to be in <strong>the</strong> room with 50–75<br />

people experiencing <strong>the</strong> film for <strong>the</strong> first time. The sound<br />

system and projector were first class. The film was well<br />

received, especially by <strong>the</strong> young people in <strong>the</strong> room, and<br />

that made me so joyful.<br />

The festival took a break for lunch and I made my way<br />

to Bugaloo’s, now located on Grace Bay Road. I started<br />

doing research about where to get a COVID test for my<br />

return on Sunday. I missed <strong>the</strong> Music Producer’s Panel at<br />

<strong>the</strong> festival, which was a bummer.<br />

But I made it back for <strong>the</strong> short films and was blown<br />

away by <strong>the</strong>m. I was very inspired by <strong>the</strong> film “Antonese”<br />

by Conchboy Films (only.one/watch/antonese). The<br />

short takes you on a journey with Bahamians on Cat<br />

Island who learn to embrace <strong>the</strong> ocean and become modern-day<br />

superheroes to overcome <strong>the</strong>ir fears <strong>of</strong> what lies<br />

below <strong>the</strong> surface.<br />

That evening was a festival gala. The high ticket<br />

price meant that this starving artist had to sit it out, but<br />

again, I followed along on Instagram and got to see folks<br />

enjoying <strong>the</strong>ir evening with Nile Rodgers and o<strong>the</strong>r celebrities.<br />

I ended up having drinks and a great dinner at<br />

Mango Reef with <strong>the</strong> star <strong>of</strong> “East Caicos Expedition,” John<br />

Galleymore. It was no gala, but we had a great time celebrating<br />

<strong>the</strong> screening <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> film!<br />

I was excited for ano<strong>the</strong>r full day at <strong>the</strong> festival on<br />

Saturday, which started with <strong>the</strong> Writer’s Panel. Here, we<br />

heard from TV and film producers Jamund Washington<br />

(“First Baptist,” “Gimme <strong>the</strong> Loot”) and Deniese Davis<br />

(“Insecure,” “The Misadventures <strong>of</strong> Awkward Black Girl”),<br />

plus artist manager, Krystle Hartsfield (Sony, Roc Nation,<br />

Moonshot). It was insightful to hear <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir experiences<br />

in <strong>the</strong> industry, motivating to have <strong>the</strong>m advise on how<br />

to get noticed, and encouraging to hear <strong>the</strong>m speak <strong>of</strong><br />

having “that one person” who helped <strong>the</strong>m . . . now, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

are <strong>the</strong> ones giving back.<br />

The evening session was very well-attended. We<br />

enjoyed a wonderful interview by Festival Director Colin<br />

Burrows with actor Brian Cox (“Braveheart,” “The Bourne<br />

Identity,” “X2: X-Men United,” “Troy”). Then we had <strong>the</strong><br />

pleasure <strong>of</strong> watching a new episode <strong>of</strong> Brian’s latest HBO<br />

series, “Succession.” It has some amazing actors. The<br />

characters are horrible people, but it’s a great show.<br />

That evening’s gala was in full swing as I was departing<br />

<strong>the</strong> resort to head back to my Airbnb. But I ended<br />

up chatting with Festival Organizer Lizzie Foster and she<br />

convinced me to join <strong>the</strong> festivities. So I changed out <strong>of</strong><br />

my flip flops and put on a collared shirt—<strong>the</strong>re was a<br />

red carpet, after all. I got to enjoy <strong>the</strong> company <strong>of</strong> Daniel<br />

LeVin, one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> guides <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> expedition to East Caicos.<br />

Then I felt like an A-lister as tons <strong>of</strong> screaming fans<br />

shouted my name and <strong>the</strong> flashes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cameras blinded<br />

me while I was strutting down <strong>the</strong> red carpet! No, that<br />

didn’t happen, but I did get my picture taken on <strong>the</strong> red<br />

carpet as I made my way to <strong>the</strong> showing <strong>of</strong> “Eternals,” <strong>the</strong><br />

new Marvel movie. I was impressed by <strong>the</strong> amazing surround-sound<br />

from a portable system. Kudos to <strong>the</strong> crew<br />

running it! At almost three hours, <strong>the</strong> film felt a bit long,<br />

but was enjoyable.<br />

I had a hard time understanding how Marvel movies<br />

connected with <strong>the</strong> film festival. I was pleased to hear<br />

Colin speak about Disney (who owns Marvel) declaring<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are working to make <strong>the</strong>ir film productions, resorts<br />

and <strong>the</strong>me parks more sustainable and green (<strong>the</strong>waltdisneycompany.com/environmental-sustainability/).<br />

That’s welcome news.<br />

You see, some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> purposes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> festival are to<br />

honor <strong>the</strong> oceans, to lift up creators that are doing works<br />

supporting ecological awareness and to expose <strong>the</strong> world<br />

to all that <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> have to <strong>of</strong>fer. I just<br />

love an organization with purpose and <strong>the</strong>se resonate<br />

with me.<br />

68 www.timespub.tc

The festival had beach parties and special dinners.<br />

There was so much going on that I wasn’t able to make<br />

it to everything. I really wanted to see Andre Musgrove’s<br />

“Child <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Cenote,” but I was high above <strong>the</strong> blue<br />

waters (on <strong>the</strong> plane) when his film screened.<br />

I’m thrilled for <strong>the</strong> TCI to have such a wonderful<br />

film festival. Karen Whitt (festival chairperson) and Colin<br />

Burrows, along with <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> festival board and volunteers<br />

created an amazing experience. I think 20<strong>22</strong> is<br />

going to see <strong>the</strong> festival grow as <strong>the</strong> word gets out about<br />

this gem. I hope to see it flourish. a<br />


Filmmaker Mat Matlack is based in Columbia, Missouri<br />

with one foot in <strong>the</strong> Bahamas. He and his wife Shannon<br />

enjoy exploring <strong>the</strong> North Atlantic and Caribbean.<br />

They have two potcakes and a love for all island dogs<br />

plus a passion for protecting <strong>the</strong> ocean’s fragile, yet<br />

extremely important, ecosystem. Their 8-year-old daughter<br />

sometimes joins <strong>the</strong>m on <strong>the</strong> adventures. (Visit<br />

SeaTurtleCreative.com).<br />

At left: Poster competition winner Janella Forbes and her mo<strong>the</strong>r stop<br />

for photos as <strong>the</strong>y walk down <strong>the</strong> red carpet.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 69

astrolabe<br />

newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Front Street, PO Box 188, Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI TKCA 1ZZ<br />

tel 649 247 2160/US incoming 786 <strong>22</strong>0 1159 • email info@tcmuseum.org • web www.tcmuseum.org<br />

Fritz Ludington is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> original developers <strong>of</strong> Providenciales.<br />

Island Visionary<br />

The late “Fritz” Ludington helped initiate development on Providenciales.<br />

By Dr. Carlton Mills ~ Images Courtesy Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Over <strong>the</strong> last fifty years, what was once known only as Blue Hills (now Providenciales), has witnessed<br />

a remarkable transformation. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> key players in this process was <strong>the</strong> late Frederick Ludington<br />

(affectionately known as Fritz).<br />

70 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

The original developers <strong>of</strong> Providenciales are shown here during<br />

<strong>the</strong> dredging <strong>of</strong> Turtle Cove (from top left): Fritz Ludington, Allan<br />

Axt, Billy Dodson, Embry Rucker, Jessy Deets, Bengt Soderqvist, Bill<br />

Watts and Bob Kellogg.<br />

Fritz was an American who had investments in<br />

George Town, Exuma, The Bahamas where he built a<br />

small boutique hotel called Two Turtles. Fritz had put his<br />

life’s savings in this investment. His dream was to make<br />

Exuma his home. This was about to change.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> factors that impacted his life in The<br />

Bahamas was when <strong>the</strong> late Sir Lyndon Pindling became<br />

prime minister in <strong>the</strong> early 1960s. On assuming <strong>of</strong>fice,<br />

<strong>the</strong> Pindling administration embarked on a call for<br />

nationalization—<strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>me being The Bahamas is for<br />

Bahamians. Family members recalled that work permits<br />

fees increased astronomically overnight. Fritz saw this as<br />

a sign to get him out <strong>of</strong> The Bahamas. The straw that<br />

broke <strong>the</strong> camel’s back came when his boat was mysteriously<br />

burnt down. It was time to leave. Providenciales was<br />

next on his radar.<br />

Fritz flew over Providenciales regularly en route to<br />

Puerto Rico. This island caught his eye from <strong>the</strong> air. He<br />

developed a fascination for it, realizing <strong>the</strong> enormous<br />

potential waiting below to be exploited. It was possibly<br />

<strong>the</strong> golden sandy beaches and <strong>the</strong> turquoise waters that<br />

attracted him. Subsequently, he decided to stop over and<br />

check out <strong>the</strong> possibilities.<br />

According to <strong>the</strong> 1960 Population Census,<br />

Providenciales had a population <strong>of</strong> about 518 persons.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> time, <strong>the</strong>re were no major roads, no public electricity<br />

supply and no running water and o<strong>the</strong>r essentials<br />

in Providenciales. This certainly presented a challenge for<br />

Fritz from <strong>the</strong> outset, but he was not deterred from his<br />

mission to embark on developing <strong>the</strong> island into a major<br />

tourism destination.<br />

In order to begin this mammoth task, Fritz had to<br />

first submit his development proposal to government for<br />

approval. The late Hon. Gustarvus Lightbourne, a member<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Legislature at <strong>the</strong> time, strongly argued with<br />

his colleagues for this project to be approved. He firmly<br />

believed that this initiative would be <strong>the</strong> project that<br />

would ignite <strong>the</strong> growth and development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 71

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

This is <strong>the</strong> original “airport” in Providenciales in <strong>the</strong> early 1970s.<br />

The development proposal that was submitted by<br />

Fritz included:<br />

• The construction <strong>of</strong> a 4,500 foot coral surface airfield.<br />

• Construction <strong>of</strong> a jetty for Five Cays which was eventually<br />

relocated to South Dock to facilitate <strong>the</strong> docking <strong>of</strong><br />

larger vessels.<br />

• Road development linking all three settlements (Blue<br />

Hills, Five Cays and The Bight).<br />

• Dredging Sellars Pond and making a channel from <strong>the</strong><br />

ocean to <strong>the</strong> pond so that it would be used as a harbour.<br />

• Building <strong>of</strong> a hotel with at least 10 rooms.<br />

• Employment <strong>of</strong> a certain number <strong>of</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

Islanders.<br />

• Requisition <strong>of</strong> 4,000 acres <strong>of</strong> Crown Land for development.<br />

Fritz’s request for 4,000 acres <strong>of</strong> land from <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos government on a lease basis was not readily<br />

accepted by <strong>the</strong> government or <strong>the</strong> populace as many<br />

argued at <strong>the</strong> time that it was a mistake to give so many<br />

acres <strong>of</strong> land to a foreign developer. Hon. Lightbourne,<br />

on <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r hand, saw it as <strong>the</strong> only way forward for<br />

Providenciales. The project eventually got <strong>the</strong> blessings<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> government.<br />

Following approval by <strong>the</strong> local Legislature, Fritz and<br />

his partners set to work. It was necessary to import heavy<br />

duty equipment and o<strong>the</strong>r supplies. The heavy equipment<br />

included bulldozers, tractors, graders and trucks, which<br />

were sourced in <strong>the</strong> USA, while o<strong>the</strong>r supplies including<br />

canned food items and fuel were sourced from <strong>the</strong> neigbouring<br />

Dominican Republic. The first challenge was to<br />

clear customs in South Caicos before having <strong>the</strong>ir boat<br />

guided by <strong>the</strong> late “Gus” Lightbourne and Charlie Rigby<br />

to Providenciales—a pivotal task!.<br />

Scenic Turtle Cove was <strong>the</strong> area selected by Fritz<br />

to construct his hotel. He aptly named it “Third Turtle<br />

Inn” following <strong>the</strong> sequence from The Bahamas. During<br />

development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hotels in The Bahamas, Fritz had<br />

established a link with a real estate developer in Florida.<br />

He used this individual to promote his project in<br />

Providenciales. Fritz divided his 4,000 acres <strong>of</strong> land into<br />

residential and commercial properties.<br />

His first marketing approach was to advertise for<br />

pilots who would fly down to <strong>the</strong> island in <strong>the</strong>ir private<br />

aircraft. He was also able to attract a number <strong>of</strong> investors<br />

in <strong>the</strong> project. These included: Mrs. Julia Barber, Tommy<br />

Coleman, Richard C. Dupont Jr., Rogers C.B. Morton,<br />

Teddy Roosevelt lll, Peter Thompson, Richard S. Dupont,<br />

and Bengt Soderqvist. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> team’s first tasks was to<br />

push a road from Heaving Down Rock to Turtle Cove. The<br />

heavy equipment that was imported was utilized for this<br />

mammoth undertaking. Bengt’s role was also to survey<br />

<strong>the</strong> land and properties.<br />

This group soon became known as <strong>the</strong> Seven Dwarfs.<br />

Fritz’s real estate development program attracted invest-<br />

72 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Providenciales’ first airport was known as “Ludington’s International.”<br />

Below: Fritz Ludington’s contributions to <strong>the</strong> TCI were <strong>of</strong>ficially recognized in 1980.<br />

ment potential from people such as: Frank Fairchild,<br />

Doc Wi<strong>the</strong>y, Ed Erickson, Robert Guise, Eddie Erickson,<br />

Ray Hall and Ward Thompson. Ray ended up building <strong>the</strong><br />

Erebus Inn which was an extension <strong>of</strong> Fritz’s Third Turtle<br />

Inn. Ward Thompson bought land and later developed<br />

what is still known as Thompson Cove.<br />

These investors eventually formed a partnership<br />

known as Provident Limited. Each partner was granted 20<br />

acres <strong>of</strong> land. Since <strong>the</strong>re was no public electricity supply<br />

at <strong>the</strong> time, each resident purchased personal generators.<br />

Since so many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> white residents had purchased generators,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y eventually decided that it would be more<br />

appropriate to have a central generator that would provide<br />

electricity to <strong>the</strong> group. This led to <strong>the</strong> formation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Provo Power Corporation (Provo Corp). Each individual<br />

connected to <strong>the</strong> grid paid monthly electricity bills.This<br />

eventually lead to <strong>the</strong> electrification <strong>of</strong> Providenciales.<br />

The late Scott Perkins was put in charge <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> maintenance<br />

and upkeep <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> generator and electrical supplies<br />

while Doc Wi<strong>the</strong>y was responsible for <strong>the</strong> management <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> operation.<br />

Traveling to Providenciales was ano<strong>the</strong>r challenge<br />

as <strong>the</strong>re was no major airport nor international flights.<br />

In order to assist his guests and o<strong>the</strong>r potential investors<br />

to get into Provo, Fritz promoted shuttle flights from<br />

Florida twice weekly using a World War ll DC-3 aircraft.<br />

In 1967, Lew Whinnery started an inter-island air service.<br />

Fritz, along with Owen Cassaway, eventually bought out<br />

<strong>the</strong> company establishing Caicos Airways Limited. By<br />

1968, <strong>the</strong>y were using <strong>the</strong> Beechcraft Bonanza which <strong>the</strong>y<br />

replaced a year later with a Twin Beech, eight-seater aircraft.<br />

They also maintained a Cessna for charter flights.<br />

As more persons expressed interest in residing and<br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

investing in Providenciales, a greater demand was placed<br />

on <strong>the</strong> Provo Corp to provide services. In <strong>the</strong> words <strong>of</strong><br />

Bengt Soderqvist, <strong>the</strong> Corp grew like a web. Eventually,<br />

because <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> huge demand, it became almost impossible<br />

for <strong>the</strong> Corp to manage <strong>the</strong> supply and demand that<br />

was being created. As a result, <strong>the</strong>y eventually agreed to<br />

sell <strong>the</strong> Corp to <strong>the</strong> owners <strong>of</strong> Provo Power Company in<br />

<strong>the</strong> 1980s.<br />

Fritz can be credited for being one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> major<br />

pioneers that ignited this remarkable change in<br />

Providenciales in just over fifty years. He not only set<br />

<strong>the</strong> stage for our tourism development, but he also<br />

contributed to <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> electrification <strong>of</strong><br />

Providenciales. This was not by any stretch <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> imagination<br />

a simple task. This initiative was indicative <strong>of</strong> a<br />

man who possessed drive, enthusiasm, determination<br />

and fortitude. It is obvious that Fritz’s vision is alive and<br />

well in <strong>the</strong> TCI. He was a trailblazer.<br />

It is sad and unfortunate that he has not been given<br />

<strong>the</strong> respect or <strong>the</strong> acknowledgement for his tireless<br />

efforts. The PDM administration (1976–80), saw it fitting<br />

to name <strong>the</strong> airport in his honour. a<br />

Museum Matters<br />

Bricks have arrived<br />

We are excited to announce that <strong>the</strong> memorial and decorative<br />

bricks, purchased in support <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> museum at<br />

both locations, have arrived. We are extremely pleased<br />

with <strong>the</strong> quality <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> engraving and <strong>the</strong> logos. We are<br />

determining exactly where we want <strong>the</strong> bricks on Grand<br />

Turk placed and will be installing <strong>the</strong>m soon. If you<br />

ordered a replica tile, we will begin distributing those.<br />

We plan to find a way to display <strong>the</strong> bricks at <strong>the</strong><br />

current Providenciales location. These bricks were purchased<br />

in support <strong>of</strong> constructing a new building on<br />

Providenciales and <strong>the</strong> bricks will be part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> new<br />

building project.<br />

The fundraiser for <strong>the</strong> engraved bricks will continue.<br />

Once people see <strong>the</strong>m we hope that additional orders<br />

will be placed.<br />

• Providenciales—All proceeds from <strong>the</strong> brick purchases<br />

<strong>the</strong>re will go towards <strong>the</strong> new museum building<br />

on Providenciales.<br />

• Grand Turk—All proceeds from <strong>the</strong> brick purchases<br />

for Grand Turk will be used for <strong>the</strong> operations, projects<br />

and exhibits for <strong>the</strong> Grand Turk Museum.<br />

Bricks can be purchased for a cost <strong>of</strong> $100, $250<br />

or $500. You choose <strong>the</strong> wording and for an additional<br />

$25 have <strong>the</strong> option to include artwork. For more information,<br />

contact us or visit our website. a<br />

Lucayan educational materials distributed<br />

We have begun reaching out to schools throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos to deliver Lucayan Education Materials.<br />

The museum received <strong>the</strong> materials from <strong>the</strong> University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Oxford–SIBA project. Each school will receive a set<br />

<strong>of</strong> 10 posters depicting <strong>the</strong> lifestyles <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Lucayans.<br />

Teacher guides and student booklets are also provided.<br />

The materials have been very well received by<br />

students, teachers and principals. The posters, booklets<br />

and guides are durable and colorful. We will continue<br />

to present <strong>the</strong> materials to schools during this school<br />

year. a<br />

School visits<br />

Both museum locations were pleased to have recent visits<br />

from several schools. Provo Middle School had two<br />

74 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

additional products.<br />

• Our dedicated group <strong>of</strong> volunteers continue to keep<br />

this location open and improving.<br />

Students in Grand Turk are among <strong>the</strong> first to receive <strong>the</strong> new Lucayan<br />

Education Materials.<br />

separate classes visit <strong>the</strong> Providenciales location. Lisa<br />

Talbot <strong>of</strong>fered presentations on <strong>the</strong> Cotton Industry to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Year 8 students and 20th Century History to <strong>the</strong> Year<br />

9 students. Provo Middle School also visited <strong>the</strong> museum<br />

while on <strong>the</strong>ir field trip to Grand Turk. A presentation<br />

regarding <strong>the</strong> Salt Industry was given followed by a tour<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> museum.<br />

Provo Primary and Oseta Jolly Primary visited <strong>the</strong><br />

Providenciales location. Students from H.J. Robinson High<br />

School toured <strong>the</strong> Grand Turk museum as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

project about TCI culture and history. a<br />

Provo Middle School students attend a presentation at <strong>the</strong> museum’s<br />

Providenciales location.<br />

Location updates<br />

Providenciales<br />

• New flyers promoting <strong>the</strong> museum on Provo were distributed<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> island to taxi drivers, resorts, car<br />

rental companies and o<strong>the</strong>r locations.<br />

• The gift shop area was upgraded with new shelving and<br />

Grand Turk<br />

• The cruise ships are returning to Grand Turk starting<br />

in December. We are awaiting additional details on how<br />

this will impact <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> visitors to <strong>the</strong> museum. We<br />

are hoping that this will return some normalcy to Grand<br />

Turk for both <strong>the</strong> museum, o<strong>the</strong>r tour operators and businesses<br />

that rely on <strong>the</strong> cruise ships.<br />

• We will be adjusting our opening days and hours to<br />

accommodate <strong>the</strong> return <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ships.<br />

• Volunteers have also been key at this location, providing<br />

support in <strong>the</strong> museum and gift shop.<br />

• A spay and neuter clinic was held at <strong>the</strong> museum’s<br />

science building for two days in October. Over 55 animals<br />

were “snipped.” The museum is always willing to help out<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r non-pr<strong>of</strong>its, especially for important projects that<br />

benefit everyone in <strong>the</strong> community.<br />

Current Days & Hours <strong>of</strong> Operation:<br />

• Grand Turk—Check schedule online; days and times<br />

vary based on cruise ships.<br />

Located in historic Guinep House on Front Street, this<br />

location includes exhibits regarding <strong>the</strong> Salt Industry,<br />

Molasses Reef Wreck, <strong>the</strong> Lucayans, John Glenn Landing<br />

and more.<br />

• Providenciales—Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday;<br />

10 AM to 2 PM<br />

Located in The Village at Grace Bay, this location<br />

includes a Historical Timeline that gives an overview <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> most important dates in <strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Our residents have descended from a vast<br />

array <strong>of</strong> peoples, and an incredibly rich history.<br />

Additional Exhibits—Slave ship Trouvadore, Molasses<br />

Reef Wreck Artifacts, Sapodilla Hill Rock Carvings. Tour<br />

<strong>the</strong> Heritage House, which is a historically correct recreation<br />

<strong>of</strong> a typical 1800s Caicos dwelling, and <strong>the</strong> Heritage<br />

Garden.<br />

Days and times <strong>of</strong> operation are subject to change so<br />

please check our website or Facebook page for updated<br />

information. a<br />

www.tcmuseum.org• info@tcmuseum.org<br />

(649) 247-2160<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 75

about <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Map provided courtesy Wavey Line Publishing. Their navigation charts and decorative and historic maps <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, The<br />

Bahamas and Hispaniola are available in shops throughout <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Visit www.amnautical.com.<br />

Where we are<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> lie some 575 miles sou<strong>the</strong>ast<br />

<strong>of</strong> Miami — approximately 1 1/2 hours flying time —<br />

with The Bahamas about 30 miles to <strong>the</strong> northwest and<br />

<strong>the</strong> Dominican Republic some 100 miles to <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>ast.<br />

The country consists <strong>of</strong> two island groups separated<br />

by <strong>the</strong> <strong>22</strong>-mile wide Columbus Passage. To <strong>the</strong> west are<br />

<strong>the</strong> Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>: West Caicos, Providenciales, North<br />

Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and South Caicos. To<br />

<strong>the</strong> east are <strong>the</strong> Turks <strong>Islands</strong>: Grand Turk and Salt Cay.<br />

The Turks & Caicos total 166 square miles <strong>of</strong> land<br />

area on eight islands and 40 small cays. The country’s<br />

population is approximately 43,000.<br />

Getting here<br />

There are international airports on Grand Turk,<br />

Providenciales, and South Caicos, with domestic airports<br />

on all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands except East Caicos.<br />

As <strong>of</strong> September 1, <strong>2021</strong>, all visitors ages 16 and<br />

above must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative<br />

PCR or antigen COVID-19 test taken within three days<br />

<strong>of</strong> travel. (Children under <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> 10 are not required<br />

to be tested.) Additionally, travellers must have medical/<br />

travel insurance that covers medevac, a completed health<br />

screening questionnaire and certification that <strong>the</strong>y have<br />

read and agreed to <strong>the</strong> privacy policy document. These<br />

requirements must be uploaded to <strong>the</strong> TCI Assured portal,<br />

which is available at www.turksandcaicostourism.<br />

com, in advance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir arrival.<br />

76 www.timespub.tc

The TCI has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity in<br />

response to testing requirements implemented for travellers<br />

entering <strong>the</strong> United States and Canada. Many resorts<br />

<strong>of</strong>fer on-site testing, along with numerous local health<br />

practitioners.<br />

Language<br />

English.<br />

Time zone<br />

Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time<br />

observed.<br />

Currency<br />

The United States dollar. The Treasury also issues a Turks<br />

& Caicos crown and quarter. Travellers cheques in U.S.<br />

dollars are widely accepted and o<strong>the</strong>r currency can be<br />

changed at local banks. American Express, VISA and<br />

MasterCard are welcomed at many locations.<br />

Climate<br />

The average year-round temperature is 83ºF (28ºC). The<br />

hottest months are September and October, when <strong>the</strong><br />

temperature can reach 90 to 95ºF (33 to 35ºC). However,<br />

<strong>the</strong> consistent easterly trade winds temper <strong>the</strong> heat and<br />

keep life comfortable.<br />

Casual resort and leisure wear is accepted attire for<br />

daytime; light sweaters or jackets may be necessary on<br />

some breezy evenings. It’s wise to wear protective clothing<br />

and a sunhat and use waterpro<strong>of</strong> sunscreen when out<br />

in <strong>the</strong> tropical sun.<br />

Entry requirements<br />

Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required.<br />

Customs formalities<br />

Visitors may bring in duty free for <strong>the</strong>ir own use one carton<br />

<strong>of</strong> cigarettes or cigars, one bottle <strong>of</strong> liquor or wine,<br />

and some perfume. The importation <strong>of</strong> all firearms including<br />

those charged with compressed air without prior<br />

approval in writing from <strong>the</strong> Commissioner <strong>of</strong> Police is<br />

strictly forbidden. Spear guns, Hawaiian slings, controlled<br />

drugs and pornography are also illegal.<br />

Returning residents may bring in $400 worth <strong>of</strong><br />

merchandise per person duty free. A duty <strong>of</strong> 10% to<br />

60% is charged on most imported goods along with a<br />

7% customs processing fee and forms a major source <strong>of</strong><br />

government revenue.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 77

etween popular visitor areas. Scooter, motorcycle and<br />

bicycle rentals are also available.<br />

Food for Thought provides free daily<br />

breakfast to government school students.<br />

A donation <strong>of</strong> $300 will provide breakfast<br />

to one child for a whole school year.<br />

To donate or learn more please<br />

email info@foodforthoughttci.com<br />

or visit foodforthoughttci.com<br />

Transportation<br />

Food for Thought Foundation Inc. (NP #102)<br />

A valid driver’s license from home is suitable when renting<br />

vehicles. A government tax <strong>of</strong> 12% is levied on all<br />

rental contracts. (Insurance is extra.) Driving is on <strong>the</strong><br />

left-hand side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road, with traffic flow controlled by<br />

round-abouts at major junctions. Please don’t drink and<br />

drive! Taxis and community cabs are abundant throughout<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> and many resorts <strong>of</strong>fer shuttle service<br />

Telecommunications<br />

FLOW Ltd. provides land lines and superfast broadband<br />

Internet service. Mobile service is on a LTE 4G network,<br />

including pre- and post-paid cellular phones. Most resorts<br />

and some stores and restaurants <strong>of</strong>fer wireless Internet<br />

connections. Digicel operates mobile networks, with<br />

a full suite <strong>of</strong> LTE 4G service. FLOW is <strong>the</strong> local carrier<br />

for CDMA roaming on US networks such as Verizon and<br />

Sprint. North American visitors with GSM cellular handsets<br />

and wireless accounts with AT&T or Cingular can<br />

arrange international roaming.<br />

Electricity<br />

FortisTCI supplies electricity at a frequency <strong>of</strong> 60HZ,<br />

and ei<strong>the</strong>r single phase or three phase at one <strong>of</strong> three<br />

standard voltages for residential or commercial service.<br />

FortisTCI continues to invest in a robust and resilient grid<br />

to ensure <strong>the</strong> highest level <strong>of</strong> reliability to customers. The<br />

company is integrating renewable energy into its grid and<br />

provides options for customers to participate in two solar<br />

energy programs.<br />

Departure tax<br />

US $60. It is typically included in your airline ticket cost.<br />

Courier service<br />

Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with <strong>of</strong>fices on<br />

Providenciales and Grand Turk, and DHL. UPS service is<br />

limited to incoming delivery.<br />

78 www.timespub.tc

Postal service<br />

The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales are<br />

located downtown on Airport Road. In Grand Turk, <strong>the</strong><br />

Post Office and Philatelic Bureau are on Church Folly. The<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> are known for <strong>the</strong>ir colorful stamp issues.<br />

Media<br />

Multi-channel satellite television is received from <strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

and Canada and transmitted via cable or over <strong>the</strong> air.<br />

Local station WIV-TV broadcasts on Channel 4 and Island<br />

EyeTV on Channel 5. People’s Television <strong>of</strong>fers 75 digitally<br />

transmitted television stations, along with local news<br />

and talk shows on Channel 8. There are also a number <strong>of</strong><br />

local radio stations, magazines and newspapers.<br />

Medical services<br />

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are<br />

large, modern hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales.<br />

Both hospitals <strong>of</strong>fer a full range <strong>of</strong> services including:<br />

24/7 emergency room, operating <strong>the</strong>aters, diagnostic<br />

imaging, maternity suites, dialysis suites, blood bank,<br />

physio<strong>the</strong>rapy and dentistry.<br />

In addition, several general practitioners operate in<br />

<strong>the</strong> country, and <strong>the</strong>re is a recompression chamber, along<br />

with a number <strong>of</strong> private pharmacies.<br />

Immigration<br />

A resident’s permit is required to live in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. A<br />

work permit and business license are also required to<br />

work and/or establish a business. These are generally<br />

granted to those <strong>of</strong>fering skills, experience and qualifications<br />

not widely available on <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Priority is given<br />

to enterprises that will provide employment and training<br />

for T&C Islanders.<br />

Government/Legal system<br />

TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed<br />

Governor, HE Nigel John Dakin. He presides over an executive<br />

council formed by <strong>the</strong> elected local government.<br />

Hon. Charles Washington Misick is <strong>the</strong> country’s premier,<br />

leading a majority Progressive National Party (PNP) House<br />

<strong>of</strong> Assembly.<br />

The legal system is based upon English Common<br />

Law and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief<br />

Magistrate,and Deputy Magistrates. Judges <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Court<br />

<strong>of</strong> Appeal visit <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> twice a year and <strong>the</strong>re is a final<br />

Right <strong>of</strong> Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.<br />

Taxes<br />

There are currently no direct taxes on ei<strong>the</strong>r income<br />

or capital for individuals or companies. There are no<br />

exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs<br />

duties and fees, stamp duty, taxes on accommodations,<br />

restaurants, vehicle rentals, o<strong>the</strong>r services and gasoline,<br />

as well as business license fees and departure taxes.<br />

Economy<br />

Historically, TCI’s economy relied on <strong>the</strong> export <strong>of</strong> salt.<br />

Currently, tourism, <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore finance industry and fishing<br />

generate <strong>the</strong> most private sector income. The <strong>Islands</strong>’<br />

main exports are lobster and conch. Practically all consumer<br />

goods and foodstuffs are imported.<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are recognised as an<br />

important <strong>of</strong>fshore financial centre, <strong>of</strong>fering services<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 79

such as company formation, <strong>of</strong>fshore insurance, banking,<br />

trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies.<br />

The Financial Services Commission regulates <strong>the</strong> industry<br />

and spearheads <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore legislation.<br />

People<br />

Citizens <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are termed<br />

“Belongers” and are primarily descendants <strong>of</strong> African<br />

slaves who were brought to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> to work in <strong>the</strong><br />

salt ponds and cotton plantations. The country’s large<br />

expatriate population includes Canadians, Americans,<br />

Brits and Europeans, along with Haitians, Jamaicans,<br />

Dominicans, Bahamians, Indians and Filipinos.<br />

Churches<br />

Churches are <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> community life and <strong>the</strong>re<br />

are many faiths represented in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> including:<br />

Adventist, Anglican, Assembly <strong>of</strong> God, Baha’i, Baptist,<br />

Catholic, Church <strong>of</strong> God, Episcopal, Jehovah’s Witnesses,<br />

Methodist and Pentecostal. Visitors are always welcome.<br />

Pets<br />

Incoming pets must have an import permit, veterinary<br />

health certificate, vaccination certificate and lab test<br />

results to be submitted at <strong>the</strong> port <strong>of</strong> entry to obtain<br />

clearance from <strong>the</strong> TCI Department <strong>of</strong> Agriculture, Animal<br />

Health Services.<br />

National symbols<br />

The National Bird is <strong>the</strong> Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).<br />

The National Plant is Island hea<strong>the</strong>r (Limonium<br />

bahamense) found nowhere else in <strong>the</strong> world. The<br />

National Tree is <strong>the</strong> Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var.<br />

bahamensis). The National Costume consists <strong>of</strong> white cotton<br />

dresses tied at <strong>the</strong> waist for women and simple shirts<br />

and loose pants for men, with straw hats. Colors representing<br />

<strong>the</strong> various islands are displayed on <strong>the</strong> sleeves,<br />

sashes and hat bands. The National Song is “This Land<br />

<strong>of</strong> Ours” by <strong>the</strong> late Rev. E.C. Howell. Peas and Hominy<br />

(Grits) with Dry Conch is revered as symbolic island fare.<br />

Going green<br />

TCI Waste Disposal Services currently <strong>of</strong>fers recycling<br />

services through weekly collection <strong>of</strong> recyclable aluminum,<br />

glass and plastic. Single-use plastic bags have been<br />

banned country-wide as <strong>of</strong> May 1, 2019. There is also a<br />

ban on importation <strong>of</strong> plastic straws and some polystyrene<br />

products, including cups and plates.<br />

subscription form<br />


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80 www.timespub.tc

Recreation<br />

Sporting activities are centered around <strong>the</strong> water. Visitors<br />

can choose from deep-sea, reef or bonefishing, sailing,<br />

glass-bottom boat and semi-sub excursions, windsurfing,<br />

waterskiing, parasailing, sea kayaking, snorkelling, scuba<br />

diving, snuba, kiteboarding, stand up paddleboarding,<br />

mermaid encounters and beachcombing. Pristine reefs,<br />

abundant marine life and excellent visibility make TCI<br />

a world-class diving destination. Whale and dolphin<br />

encounters are possible, especially during <strong>the</strong> winter/<br />

spring months.<br />

Tennis and golf—<strong>the</strong>re is an 18 hole championship<br />

course on Providenciales—are also popular. Many resorts<br />

have private tennis courts.<br />

The <strong>Islands</strong> are an ecotourist’s paradise. Visitors can<br />

enjoy unspoilt wilderness and native flora and fauna in<br />

33 national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries and areas<br />

<strong>of</strong> historical interest. The National Trust provides trail<br />

guides to several hiking trails, as well as guided tours <strong>of</strong><br />

major historical sites. Birdwatching is superb, and <strong>the</strong>re<br />

is a guided trail on Grand Turk.<br />

There is an excellent national museum on Grand<br />

Turk, with an auxillary branch on Providenciales that<br />

includes <strong>the</strong> Caicos Heritage House. A scheduled ferry<br />

and a selection <strong>of</strong> tour operators make it easy to take day<br />

trips to <strong>the</strong> outer islands.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r land-based activities include bicycling, horseback<br />

riding and football (soccer). Personal trainers are<br />

available to motivate you, working out <strong>of</strong> several fitness<br />

centres. You will also find a variety <strong>of</strong> spa and body treatment<br />

services.<br />

Nightlife includes local bands playing island music<br />

at bars and restaurants and some nightclubs. There are<br />

two casinos on Providenciales, along with many electronic<br />

gaming parlours. Stargazing is extraordinary!<br />

Shoppers will find Caribbean paintings, T-shirts,<br />

sports and beachwear and locally made handicrafts,<br />

including straw work, conch crafts and handmade beach<br />

jewellery. Duty free outlets sell liquor, jewellery, watches,<br />

perfume, lea<strong>the</strong>r goods, crystal, china, cameras, electronics,<br />

brand-name clothing and accessories, along with<br />

Cuban cigars. a<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2021</strong>/<strong>22</strong> 81

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Community Fellowship Centre<br />

A Life-Changing Experience<br />

Sunday Divine Worship 9 AM<br />

Visitors Welcome!<br />

Tel: 649.941.3484 • Web: cfctci.com<br />

D&Bswift_Layout 1 5/8/18 7:24 AM Page 1<br />





649-941-8438 and 649-241-4968<br />

SCOOTER BOBS_Layout 1 8/8/18 10:57 AM Page GBC2017_Layout 1 2/16/17 9:10 AM Page 1<br />

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We’re here to<br />

make your holiday<br />

<strong>the</strong> island way...<br />



Provo & North-Middle Caicos<br />

Office: 946-4684<br />

Amos: 441-2667 (after hours)<br />

Yan: 247-6755 (after hours)<br />

Bob: 231-0262 (after hours)<br />

scooterbobs@gmail.com<br />

www.scooterbobstci.com<br />

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Appreciating Your Business!<br />

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82 www.timespub.tc



Our executive team: (L-r) Senior Vice President <strong>of</strong> Operations Devon Cox; Vice President <strong>of</strong> Corporate<br />

Services and CFO Aisha Laporte; President and CEO Ruth Forbes; Vice President <strong>of</strong> Grand Turk and<br />

Sister Island Operations Allan Robinson; Vice President <strong>of</strong> Innovation, Technology and Strategic Planning<br />

Rachell Roullet and Vice President <strong>of</strong> Engineering and Energy Production and Delivery Don Forsyth<br />

The energy landscape is changing.<br />

And at FortisTCI, we are leading <strong>the</strong> transition to cleaner energy with<br />

innovative solutions, and <strong>the</strong> highest level <strong>of</strong> service to customers.<br />

With sustainability as a guiding principle, we are strategically investing<br />

in new technologies, people and processes to deliver least-cost, reliable,<br />

resilient and sustainable energy to keep <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

economy moving forward.<br />

At FortisTCI, we are powered by a team <strong>of</strong> energy experts, who are proud<br />

to serve as your energy partners.<br />

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

We help you turn some day into right now . . .<br />

nothing compares.<br />


Condominium | Home & Villa | Land | New Development<br />

649.946.4474 | info@tcso<strong>the</strong>bysrealty.com | turksandcaicossir.com<br />

Venture House, Grace Bay | Resort Locations: Grace Bay Club and The Palms<br />

Each franchise is Independently Owned and Operated.

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