Times of the Islands Winter 2022/23

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.

  • No tags were found...

Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS WINTER <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> NO. 141<br />


Provo Golf Course turns 3o!<br />


<strong>Winter</strong> bird migration<br />


Apps versus humans<br />


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

contents<br />

Departments<br />

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

19 Getting to Know<br />

Painting TCI History to Life<br />

Local artist Richard McGhie<br />

By Kathy Borsuk<br />

22 Talking Taíno<br />

Banana Rats for Lunch?<br />

The “tail” <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hutia<br />

By Bill Keegan and Betsy Carlson<br />

28 Eye on <strong>the</strong> Sky<br />

Forecasting <strong>the</strong> Future<br />

Human versus wea<strong>the</strong>r app<br />

By Paul Wilkerson<br />

49 Faces & Places<br />

Mosaic Workshop<br />

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

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

81 Subscription Form<br />

82 Classified Ads<br />

Features<br />

50 “Snowbirds” with Wings<br />

Massive migration <strong>of</strong> birds through TCI<br />

By Simon Busuttil<br />

56 Standing <strong>the</strong> Test <strong>of</strong> Time<br />

Provo Golf Course Celebrates 30 years<br />

By Kathy Borsuk<br />

66 Exploring East Caicos<br />

The turtle story<br />

By Oshin Whyte & Amadyne Agenor<br />

Green Pages<br />

33 Building on <strong>the</strong> Past<br />

By B Naqqi Manco<br />

36 Using Technology to Preserve Nature<br />

By Christopher May<br />

39 Chasing Flowers for TIPAs<br />

By Dodly Prosper<br />

41 Home Is Where <strong>the</strong> Food Is<br />

By Corinne Pita and Julia de los Reyes<br />

Photos By Dr. C.E. O’Brien<br />

46 Spikey Boys<br />

By Alizee Zimmermann<br />

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />


SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS WINTER <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> NO. 141<br />

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

Gary James at Provo Pictures (www.provopictures.com)<br />

made several visits to <strong>the</strong> Provo Golf Course to shoot this<br />

intriguing overhead cover.<br />

Gary has been supplying high end commercial photography<br />

and videography for <strong>the</strong> hospitality, real estate, and<br />

architectural industries for over a decade.<br />

50<br />

Astrolabe<br />

71 The Name Behind a Name<br />

The Frith family <strong>of</strong> Palm Grove, Grand Turk<br />

Story & Illustrations By Jeff Dodge<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 buyer<br />

an idyllic private retreat with approximately 190 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$16,000,000<br />

Bernadette Hunt<br />

Cell ~ 649 <strong>23</strong>1 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 26 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 />

Ocean Club West, Grace Bay<br />

Suite 737 at Ocean Club West resort is a 1,530 sq. ft. Grace Bay penthouse suite with high beamed ceilings,<br />

a split-level layout, two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, and a spacious screened balcony <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> main<br />

living area boasting beautiful ocean and resort views. The condo is located in building G and is a corner<br />

suite with an extra set <strong>of</strong> patio doors that allows for abundant light throughout <strong>the</strong> unit.<br />

US$899,000<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 />

Columbus Cottage, Leeward<br />

Columbus Cottage is a 1,700 sq. ft. two-bedroom, two-bathroom Leeward rental villa located just a<br />

5-minute walk away from Grace Bay Beach. This very unique property consists <strong>of</strong> three separate parcels<br />

<strong>of</strong> land totaling 1.53 acres. An ideal opportunity for a developer wishing to construct luxury villas or a<br />

purchaser looking to build a family compound.<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>.<br />


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


Michael Morton captured this nearly unbelievable shot <strong>of</strong> a flamboyance <strong>of</strong> flamingos at <strong>the</strong> Flamingo Pond overlook in North Caicos. Such a<br />

mighty move <strong>of</strong> nature MUST be protected so future generations can experience such splendor.<br />

Taking Care<br />

I have a new appreciation for <strong>the</strong> skill called “caregiving.” Being responsible for <strong>the</strong> needs <strong>of</strong> an elderly or handicapped<br />

person is a tremendous task, requiring patience, kindness, perseverance, sacrifice, and lots <strong>of</strong> love. That’s<br />

why I continue to value <strong>the</strong> people who are “caretakers” <strong>of</strong> this “Beautiful by Nature” country. The Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong>, in all <strong>the</strong>ir grandeur, are a sight to behold. Yet as development, climate change, and population growth<br />

encroach, I see fraying around <strong>the</strong> edges. Coral reefs are being degraded by disease; beaches (and turtle nesting<br />

sites) eroded due to hurricanes and sea level rise; ocean creatures (like spiny urchins) experiencing unexplained dieouts;<br />

and habitat destruction limiting <strong>the</strong> “wild places” where flora and fauna flourish. I <strong>of</strong>ten ache with sadness when<br />

I recall what <strong>the</strong> country was like only 30 years ago, and I imagine older Islanders mourn <strong>the</strong>ir rich past even more.<br />

Yet <strong>the</strong> rays <strong>of</strong> hope are <strong>the</strong> “caretakers,” and you can read about many in this issue. These are <strong>the</strong> folks who<br />

step up, leave <strong>the</strong>ir comfort zones, and get involved in <strong>the</strong> healing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> planet — and especially this tiny corner<br />

we call <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos. B Naqqi Manco and <strong>the</strong> team at DECR and <strong>the</strong> National Trust; Alizee Zimmermann and<br />

<strong>the</strong> volunteers at TC Reef Fund; staff and students at <strong>the</strong> School for Field Studies; Ecologist Oshin Whyte — all are<br />

involved in projects that will make a difference, discussed in this issue. I also applaud corporate efforts. The Royal<br />

Turks & Caicos Golf Club, already an oasis for wildlife on Providenciales, is committed to becoming more “green” in<br />

all that <strong>the</strong>y do.<br />

I agree wholeheartedly with Alizee’s plea: Think about <strong>the</strong> choices you are making. Change <strong>the</strong> ones that prick<br />

your conscience. Be a caretaker <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

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

6 www.timespub.tc

Designed by:<br />

Elevated<br />

Beachfront Living<br />

Arc Sky Villas, designed by world-renowned architect Piero Lissoni, <strong>of</strong>fer a new way <strong>of</strong><br />

life at South Bank, a groundbreaking managed residential resort and marina destination.<br />

Inspired by place, indoor and outdoor spaces are seamless with immense Air Gardens<br />

creating an organic, living structure where sky, sea, nature and space are <strong>the</strong>ir signature.<br />

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

Managed by:<br />

2-5 bedroom Sky Villas<br />

from $3m to $20m<br />

Register your interest today<br />

at: www.livesouthbank.com<br />

For more information contact<br />

Nina Siegenthaler at 649.<strong>23</strong>1.0707<br />

Joe Zahm at 649.<strong>23</strong>1.6188<br />

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

@livesouthbank<br />


The Leading Private Bank in <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Where values are growing<br />

Wealth Management • Bonds/Fixed Income<br />

Investment Strategies • Foreign Exchange<br />

Stocks/Equities • Precious Metals<br />

Fixed deposits/CD’s • International Transfers<br />

Turks & Caicos Banking Company Ltd.<br />

The Regent Village, Unit H102, Grace Bay Road, Providenciales<br />

Tel: +649 941 4994<br />

Email: services@tcbc.tc • www.tcbc.tc<br />

Regulated by <strong>the</strong> Financial Services Commission, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>

Everything’s Included<br />

For Everyone<br />


Beaches ® Turks & Caicos has held <strong>the</strong> top spot at <strong>the</strong> World Travel Awards for over two decades by<br />

<strong>of</strong>fering families more <strong>of</strong> everything on <strong>the</strong> world’s best beach, featuring 5 villages, every land and<br />

water sport*, 5-Star Global Gourmet dining at 22 incredible restaurants, and 14 bars. Tips, taxes and<br />

Beaches transfers* are included too. And with trend-setting food trucks, live entertainment, and family<br />

sized accommodations…<strong>the</strong> World’s Best Family Resorts include everything families want and deserve.<br />


1-800-BEACHES<br />

Or Call Your Travel Advisor<br />

*Visit www.beaches.com/disclaimers/time<strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>islandfall22 or call 1-800-BEACHES for important terms and conditions.<br />

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

Building Your Vision, Delivering Excellence, and Exceeding Expectations -<br />

Time After Time.<br />

Projetech <strong>of</strong>fers turnkey Construction Management and General Contracting<br />

Services for Residential, Commercial and Hotel & Condominium Projects in <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Our depth <strong>of</strong> experience is unrivaled and our commitment<br />

to quality shows in <strong>the</strong> hundreds <strong>of</strong> projects we’ve completed in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

since our beginnings in 1996.<br />

ESTABLISHED 1996<br />



T: 649.941.3508 | F: 649.941.5824 | INFO@PROJETECH.TC | WWW.PROJETECH.TC |

- --- ---<br />

- ---<br />

-==---<br />

-·----<br />

Experience Our Sister Lslands<br />

Each Island in our Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> chain is a destination on its own.<br />

Experience <strong>the</strong> unparalleled beauty and exciting excursions that make our<br />

'Beautiful by Nature' islands special. Retreat to one <strong>of</strong> our majestic Sister<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> for <strong>the</strong> perfect family or solo getaway!<br />


Call: (649) 946-4970<br />




WHEN YOU NEED US WE’LL BE THERE We <strong>of</strong>fer a range <strong>of</strong> combined covers such as<br />

our Condo Combined and Homeowners Policies which cater to property and liability needs<br />

under one easily read contract. Our custom Platinum Home Policy for homes above $500,000<br />

value contains benefits not <strong>of</strong>fered by any o<strong>the</strong>r local policy to our knowledge - all at no additional<br />


We place business with four <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> best and<br />

longest established insurance companies in<br />

Turks and Caicos:<br />


Unit H203 Regent Village Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos<br />

+1 (649) 941-4814 | info@insurancecentretci.com

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />



Kathy Borsuk<br />


Claire Parrish<br />


Amadyne Agenor, Kathy Borsuk, Simon Busuttil,<br />

Dr. Betsy Carlson, Jeff Dodge, Dr. Bill Keegan,<br />

B Naqqi Manco, Christopher May, Corinne Pita,<br />

Dodly Prosper, Jody Rathgeb, Julia de los Reyes,<br />

Lisa Turnbow-Talbot, Oshin Whyte, Paul Wilkerson,<br />

Alizee Zimmermann.<br />

.<br />


AGRRA, Mirt Alexander, Karel Bartik, Channing Benjamin<br />

Photography, Simon Busuttil, Jeff Dodge, Kristen Grace–<br />

Florida Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History, Jeffrey Haake,<br />

Gary James—Provo Pictures, Louise James, Sasa Komlen,<br />

H.A. Lessios, B Naqqi Manco, Christopher May,<br />

Marta Morton, Michael Morton, Dr. C.E. O’Brien,<br />

Dodly Prosper, Tom Rathgeb, Norm Rodgers, Shutterstock,<br />

Tropical Imaging, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot, Oshin Whyte,<br />

Kathleen Wood, Alizee Zimmermann.<br />


Richard McGhie, 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 />

Copyright © 20<strong>23</strong> by <strong>Times</strong> Publications Ltd. All rights reserved<br />

under Universal and Pan American Copyright Conventions.<br />

No part <strong>of</strong> this publication may be<br />

reproduced without written permission.<br />

Subscriptions $28/year; $32/year for<br />

non-U.S. mailing addresses<br />

Submissions We welcome submission <strong>of</strong> articles or photography, but<br />

assume no responsibility for care and return <strong>of</strong> unsolicited material.<br />

Return postage must accompany material if it is to be returned. In no<br />

event shall any writer or photographer subject this magazine to any<br />

claim for holding fees or damage charges on unsolicited material.<br />

While every care has been taken in <strong>the</strong> compilation and reproduction <strong>of</strong><br />

information contained herein to ensure correctness, such information is<br />

subject to change without notice. The publisher accepts no<br />

responsibility for such alterations or for typographical or o<strong>the</strong>r errors.<br />

Business Office<br />

<strong>Times</strong> Publications Ltd., P.O. Box <strong>23</strong>4,<br />

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI<br />

Tel 649 431 4788<br />

E-mail timespub@tciway.tc<br />

Web www.timespub.tc<br />

Advertising tfadvert@tciway.tc<br />

18 www.timespub.tc

getting to know<br />

Here is a sampling <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> work <strong>of</strong> artist Richard McGhie (at top left).<br />

His focus is on depicting <strong>the</strong> history and culture <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

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

Painting TCI History to Life<br />

Local artist Richard McGhie<br />

By Kathy Borsuk ~ Illustrations By Richard McGhie<br />

Regular readers <strong>of</strong> <strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> may recall <strong>the</strong> intriguing paintings <strong>of</strong> a 1798 pirate battle <strong>of</strong>f<br />

<strong>the</strong> coast <strong>of</strong> West Caicos (Fall 2021) and <strong>the</strong> treasure-laden Spanish galleon Concepción before it sank in<br />

stormy seas (Spring <strong>2022</strong>). Both images were realistic, detailed, accurate portraits <strong>of</strong> important moments<br />

in Turks & Caicos history created by resident artist Richard McGhie.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 19

I was introduced to Rich by Ben Stubenberg, who<br />

regularly contributes articles on subjects far and wide —<br />

including TCI history. Rich good-heartedly took on <strong>the</strong><br />

task <strong>of</strong> painting <strong>the</strong> pictures specifically for Ben’s wellresearched<br />

history articles.<br />

When I finally met Rich in person about a year ago,<br />

I expected a “salty dog” — a grizzled, elderly character<br />

who’d spent years in <strong>the</strong> sun and was settling down in TCI<br />

to retire and paint. Instead, Rich is a young, casual, happy-go-lucky<br />

bloke from <strong>the</strong> UK, who landed in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong><br />

chasing a dream <strong>of</strong> living in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean. He and his<br />

wife Ainara moved to Providenciales in 2014. Rich works<br />

at <strong>the</strong> Royal Turks & Caicos Golf Club as a greenkeeper<br />

and Ainara is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at<br />

Graceway Sports Centre. In April 2021, <strong>the</strong>y were enjoying<br />

<strong>the</strong> recent birth <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir first child Logan.<br />

Rich has a smile as bright as <strong>the</strong> island sun and <strong>the</strong><br />

kind <strong>of</strong> optimistic patience that is key to keeping an even<br />

keel when living and working in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean. Rich is<br />

a self-taught artist, who only began avidly drawing and<br />

painting since his move to TCI. He says, “I was immediately<br />

captivated by my surroundings and I wanted to<br />

capture <strong>the</strong> beauty and rich history <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> in my<br />

art.”<br />

He was especially surprised to discover <strong>the</strong>re is little<br />

art depicting TCI’s rich history. Besides <strong>the</strong> pirate battle<br />

and galleon paintings showcased in <strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>,<br />

Rich is working on o<strong>the</strong>r paintings <strong>of</strong> TCI’s past. These<br />

include <strong>the</strong> shipwreck <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Trouvadore and <strong>the</strong> slaves<br />

wading onto shore; Lucayan Indians at <strong>the</strong> caves on<br />

Middle Caicos; and Ann Bonny and Mary Read anchored<br />

in a pirate ship <strong>of</strong>f Pirate’s Cove. He says, “My goal is to<br />

bring all <strong>the</strong> big events and cultures to life so people<br />

can visually relate <strong>the</strong>m to TCI. Much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> art I’ve seen<br />

when referencing <strong>the</strong> country actually comes from The<br />

Bahamas or o<strong>the</strong>r Caribbean islands. I’m a huge fan <strong>of</strong><br />

historical art, so I was pretty happy to find that <strong>the</strong>re’s a<br />

significant gap to fill here.” O<strong>the</strong>r subjects he favors, as<br />

seen here, relate to TCI’s beautiful seas and <strong>the</strong> creatures<br />

who frequent <strong>the</strong>m (including humans).<br />

Rich works primarily in acrylics on canvas and also<br />

pen and ink illustrations. His studio is his apartment at<br />

<strong>the</strong> golf course. And yes, now that Logan is up and running<br />

it is sometimes a bit chaotic. But Rich is <strong>the</strong> type<br />

to roll with <strong>the</strong> punches, including <strong>the</strong> fact that since<br />

his bro<strong>the</strong>r Chris is a pr<strong>of</strong>essional artist for <strong>the</strong> Beano<br />

and Dandy, he has big footsteps to follow. Interestingly,<br />

<strong>the</strong> renowned figure and seascape painter John McGhie<br />

(1867–1952) is from Glasgow, Scotland, where both <strong>of</strong><br />

Rich’s parents were born, and <strong>the</strong>y share <strong>the</strong> similar rare<br />

spelling <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir surname. Rich’s historical paintings bear<br />

similar qualities to John’s realistic seascapes. Perhaps he<br />

is a descendant!<br />

We hope to feature more <strong>of</strong> Rich’s paintings along<br />

with tidbits <strong>of</strong> TCI history in future issues <strong>of</strong> <strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. In April <strong>2022</strong>, Rich, along with o<strong>the</strong>r local<br />

artists, participated in <strong>the</strong> Exclusive Evening <strong>of</strong> Art Show<br />

at The Shore Club, with proceeds benefiting <strong>the</strong> Edward<br />

Gartland Youth Centre in Providenciales. He also hopes to<br />

eventually donate pieces to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National<br />

Museum.<br />

For now, you can see more <strong>of</strong> his work on<br />

Instagram at richmcghie_art or contact him directly at<br />

richardmcghie@outlook.com. a<br />

20 www.timespub.tc

The artwork shown on <strong>the</strong>se pages reflects <strong>the</strong> diversity <strong>of</strong> Richard<br />

McGhie’s interests and subjects. They range from a Junkanoo participant,<br />

a shipwreck on Grand Turk, a local policewoman, resident David<br />

Pease, a lionfish, a snorkler, and Zyzz, <strong>the</strong> iconic Wake to Wake dog<br />

who swims with Jojo, TCI’s resident dolphin.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 21

talking taíno<br />

Opposite page: Owls, such as this Cuban giant owl, were likely <strong>the</strong> main predators for hutia populations in pre-Columbian Caribbean <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Shown here is a solenodon rodent similar to a hutia.<br />

Above: Hutias are common on Cuba, especially inside <strong>the</strong> US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, where <strong>the</strong>y are more protected from natural<br />

predators.<br />


Banana Rats for Lunch?<br />

The “tail” <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> hutia.<br />

By Bill Keegan and Betsy Carlson<br />

We were sitting under a scrubby tree at <strong>the</strong> long-abandoned North Base at US Naval Station Guantanamo<br />

Bay (GTMO). The Cubans were blaring a speech by Fidel Castro from <strong>the</strong>ir observation posts across<br />

<strong>the</strong> perimeter fence. It’s not clear whe<strong>the</strong>r any <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> young Marines in <strong>the</strong> juxtaposed MOPS (Marine<br />

Observation Posts) comprehended any <strong>of</strong> it. As we finished our lunch, someone on <strong>the</strong> team noticed a<br />

baby Cuban hutia (Capromys pilorides) fast asleep in <strong>the</strong> crook <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tree only two feet from us but<br />

oblivious to our presence. It was a thrill to see for <strong>the</strong> first time such a shy and rare (by TCI standards)<br />

creature up close, especially after writing for years about <strong>the</strong>ir use as food by Caribbean Islanders. Large<br />

military reserves throughout <strong>the</strong> Caribbean have had at least one positive impact — allowing local plants<br />

and animals to survive unmolested in relatively isolated refugia.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> <strong>23</strong>

Hutias were everywhere at GTMO. They also proved to<br />

be a huge pest. The undercarriages <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Humvees that<br />

patrolled <strong>the</strong> base had to be outfitted with chicken wire<br />

cages (chickens are a European introduction) to prevent<br />

hutias from biting through coolant hoses and electrical<br />

wiring. In return, Humvees were <strong>the</strong> hutias’ main predator.<br />

Attracted to <strong>the</strong>ir headlights at night, hutias race into<br />

<strong>the</strong> roadway, committing what <strong>the</strong> Marines call “Banana<br />

Rat suicide.” (The Marines call hutia “Banana Rats”<br />

because <strong>the</strong>ir scat is shaped like a tiny black banana.)<br />

Every morning <strong>the</strong> road was littered with hutia roadkill.<br />

Flocks <strong>of</strong> vultures circled overhead, with <strong>the</strong>ir daily feast<br />

completely clearing <strong>the</strong> road by <strong>the</strong> time we returned to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Navy Lodge in <strong>the</strong> evening. Hutias are abundant on<br />

GTMO because no one hunts <strong>the</strong>m. Outside <strong>the</strong> base’s<br />

perimeter fence, hutias are less common due to predation<br />

by feral dogs and <strong>the</strong> rural Cuban population.<br />

Hutia (or Jutía) is <strong>the</strong>ir Taíno name. In <strong>the</strong> absence<br />

<strong>of</strong> nonhuman predators, hutias reproduce like rabbits,<br />

with up to four young born after a four-month gestation<br />

period. They even look very much like a rodent version<br />

<strong>of</strong> a rabbit. Adults reach up to two feet in length, have<br />

a short tail, brown to black fur, and weigh in at about<br />

10 pounds. They are one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> few mammals common<br />

in <strong>the</strong> pre-Columbian Caribbean <strong>Islands</strong>, and <strong>the</strong> only<br />

indigenous land mammal (except for bats) in all <strong>of</strong> The<br />

Bahamas and <strong>the</strong> TCI. The racoons on Grand Bahama, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> feral donkeys, cattle, and horses on Grand Turk, are<br />

all recent introductions — <strong>the</strong> rats and mice arrived first<br />

as stowaways on Columbus’ voyages.<br />

There were once at least 13 species <strong>of</strong> hutias distributed<br />

across <strong>the</strong> West Indies. The Bahamian hutia<br />

(Geocapromys ingrahami) first arrived during <strong>the</strong> last ice<br />

age. They were castaways on trees or vegetation mats<br />

that floated from Cuba and washed ashore on islands <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Great Bahama Bank. Such natural “rafts,” composed<br />

<strong>of</strong> vegetation eroded from riverbanks during tropical<br />

cyclones and washed out to sea, are not extraordinary.<br />

In fact, rocks in <strong>the</strong> root ball <strong>of</strong> a tree that washed up at<br />

Sou<strong>the</strong>ast Point, Great Inagua, were identified mineralogically<br />

as originating on <strong>the</strong> north coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Dominican<br />

Republic.<br />

Hutia bones are found in paleontological deposits,<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten in caverns where owls once roosted to eat <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

prey. Today, both owls and hutias are mostly gone from<br />

<strong>the</strong> Bahamian chain. The last remaining native colony <strong>of</strong><br />

hutia lives on East Plana Cay — a small, uninhabited, arid,<br />

and mostly deforested islet <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>ast coast <strong>of</strong><br />

Acklins Island. This remnant population was scientifically<br />

reported in 1891. The biologist Garrett Clough rediscov-<br />


Hutias reproduce like rabbits, with up to four young born after a four-month gestation period.<br />

24 www.timespub.tc

ered <strong>the</strong> East Plana Cay colony and studied <strong>the</strong>m in <strong>the</strong><br />

1960s. In 1973, he released eleven hutias (six males,<br />

five females) on Little Wax Cay (a small cay in <strong>the</strong> Exuma<br />

chain) in an effort to save <strong>the</strong> Bahamian hutia from extinction.<br />

This translocated population proceeded to grow at<br />

an alarming rate, with almost zero mortality over <strong>the</strong> first<br />

ten years. The cay’s vegetation was decimated by <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

voracious feeding on <strong>the</strong> bark <strong>of</strong> trees, effectively “girdling”<br />

<strong>the</strong> tree and causing it to drop its leaves. The cay<br />

today stands out from its green neighbors as a brown,<br />

barren landscape.<br />

Historically, what predators would have kept populations<br />

<strong>of</strong> Bahamian Hutia in check? Owls were likely <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

main predator. The most unusual <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> many extinct<br />

owls from The Bahamas is a three-foot tall flightless owl<br />

(Tyto pollens) known from bones in cave deposits in <strong>the</strong><br />

nor<strong>the</strong>rn Bahamas, dated prior to <strong>the</strong> arrival <strong>of</strong> humans.<br />

The legend <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> “chickcharny,” a large mythical owl said<br />

to live on Andros Island, may originate with this extinct<br />

bird. Crocodiles once lived throughout <strong>the</strong> archipelago<br />

and caught most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir prey on land. And last but not<br />

least, large snakes were once far more common. We were<br />

told that <strong>the</strong> best way to attract a Bahamian boa was to<br />

have a litter <strong>of</strong> kittens. In <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se predators,<br />

hutias would not have been as numerous as <strong>the</strong>ir potential<br />

reproductive rate would allow.<br />

Although hutias can climb trees, <strong>the</strong>y mostly forage<br />

on or close to <strong>the</strong> ground, and eat primarily leaves,<br />

shoots, fruit, nuts, and bark. Bahamian hutia is described<br />

as nocturnal, remaining underground in rocky crevasses<br />

during <strong>the</strong> day, but daily activities have been observed<br />

for <strong>the</strong> East Plana Cay animals, and we saw lots <strong>of</strong> Cuban<br />

hutias during <strong>the</strong> daylight hours <strong>of</strong> our survey in Cuba.<br />

Male and female hutias form life-long pair bonds<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir average life span is nine years. Although some<br />

Cuban species aggressively defend <strong>the</strong>ir territory, <strong>the</strong><br />

East Plana Cay hutias were described as “most peaceable<br />

rodents.”<br />

Hutias were eaten by Indigenous Caribbean peoples<br />

from <strong>the</strong>ir earliest arrival, as witnessed by <strong>the</strong> discovery<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir bones at archaeological sites. While paleontology<br />

has shown that hutias were present on Great Bahama<br />

Bank for thousands <strong>of</strong> years, <strong>the</strong> available evidence<br />

suggests that humans moved hutias to <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

Bahamian islands (south <strong>of</strong> Long Island). A recent DNA<br />

study showed a direct genetic connection between <strong>the</strong><br />

hutias on Abaco Island and those on Eleu<strong>the</strong>ra. The<br />

islands are separated by a water passage that <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

not likely to have crossed on <strong>the</strong>ir own.<br />

john redmond associates ltd.<br />

architects & designers<br />

construction consultants<br />

project management<br />

p.o.box 21, providenciales, turks & caicos is.<br />

tel.: 9464440 cell: <strong>23</strong>14569 email: redmond@tciway.tc<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 25


The longest established legal practice<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Real Estate Investments<br />

& Property Development<br />

Immigration, Residency<br />

& Business Licensing<br />

Company & Commercial Law<br />

Trusts & Estate Planning<br />

Banking & Insurance<br />

1 Caribbean Place, P.O. Box 97<br />

Leeward Highway, Providenciales<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI<br />

Ph: 649 946 4344 • Fax: 649 946 4564<br />

E-Mail: dempsey@tciway.tc<br />

Cockburn House, P.O. Box 70<br />

Market Street, Grand Turk<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, BWI<br />

Ph: 649 946 2245 • Fax: 649 946 2758<br />

E-Mail: ffdlawco@tciway.tc<br />

A stamp printed in Cuba shows Hutia (Geocapromys colombianus) as<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Prehistoric Animals series, circa 1982.<br />

There is o<strong>the</strong>r evidence <strong>of</strong> Indigenous Caribbean<br />

peoples moving hutias from island to island. The “Puerto<br />

Rican” hutia (Isolobodon puertoricensis) was introduced<br />

in pre-Columbian times (likely 2,000 years ago) to Puerto<br />

Rico and <strong>the</strong> Virgin <strong>Islands</strong> from Hispaniola, where, unlike<br />

in Puerto Rico, <strong>the</strong>y occur in pre-cultural paleontological<br />

sites. Not only were <strong>the</strong>se animals moved, <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

likely managed in captivity (perhaps even domesticated).<br />

Evidence for this management is <strong>the</strong> age structure <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

archaeological hutia populations, which are overwhelmingly<br />

young adults. At Ciboney (pre-Taíno) sites in Cuba,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is even earlier evidence for possible management <strong>of</strong><br />

hutias, dating to around 3,000 years ago. While <strong>the</strong>re is<br />

no direct connection between Indigenous Cuba or Puerto<br />

Rico and <strong>the</strong> Lucayans, <strong>the</strong> situations in both are similar<br />

enough to consider domestication in <strong>the</strong> Bahamian chain<br />

an option.<br />

Archaeologists are reluctant to claim that certain<br />

Caribbean animals were fully “domesticated.”<br />

Never<strong>the</strong>less, genetic differences between nor<strong>the</strong>rn and<br />

sou<strong>the</strong>rn hutias in <strong>the</strong> Bahama archipelago apparently<br />

reflect human intervention, which probably took <strong>the</strong> form<br />

<strong>of</strong> keeping animals with particular characteristics in pens<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y were allowed to breed. It could have begun as<br />

simply as a child keeping a young animal as a pet.<br />

Let’s look at <strong>the</strong> hutia populations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI. There<br />

never were any hutias living on <strong>the</strong> Turks Bank. Present<br />

evidence suggests that hutias were not living in <strong>the</strong> Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> ei<strong>the</strong>r until around AD 1400, when <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

introduced by <strong>the</strong> Lucayans. Only one hutia is reported<br />

from <strong>the</strong> ceremonial center MC-6 on Middle Caicos, and<br />

she may have been an exchange item brought from elsewhere.<br />

No hutia bones were found at <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r three<br />

excavated sites on Middle. The only significant record <strong>of</strong><br />

hutia in <strong>the</strong> Caicos occurs at <strong>the</strong> Palmetto Junction site<br />

on <strong>the</strong> west coast <strong>of</strong> Providenciales, where <strong>the</strong>y occur in<br />

surprisingly large numbers. The site dates to <strong>the</strong> fifteenth<br />

century. The only o<strong>the</strong>r Lucayan sites with larger quantities<br />

<strong>of</strong> hutia bones are on Crooked Island, also located in<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir sou<strong>the</strong>rn range.<br />

Hutias are ei<strong>the</strong>r very abundant or virtually absent in<br />

Lucayan archaeological deposits. This is most likely <strong>the</strong><br />

result <strong>of</strong> humans keeping groups <strong>of</strong> hutias as a ready protein<br />

source. An isotopic analysis <strong>of</strong> hutia bones showed<br />

at least some were eating maize. Did <strong>the</strong>y raid Lucayan<br />

gardens, or did <strong>the</strong> Lucayans feed <strong>the</strong>m? (A new type <strong>of</strong><br />

“corn fed” meat!) Indigenous gardens are known to attract<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> animals, and garden hunting is a common<br />

activity in native South America.<br />

26 www.timespub.tc

We know that <strong>the</strong> Bahamian hutia reproduces quickly<br />

and abundantly. Thus, we might expect <strong>the</strong>m to be present<br />

in such large numbers that <strong>the</strong>y were easy prey.<br />

However, on small islands <strong>the</strong>se mammals could have<br />

been overhunted quickly by <strong>the</strong> first people to reach <strong>the</strong><br />

island. The larger islands <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Greater Antilles are different.<br />

Indigenous sites in Jamaica have dense middens<br />

with nearly 90% hutia bones (far outnumbering even fish<br />

bones). And several hutia species survive in Cuba today.<br />

Island size matters!<br />

Humans have a taste for red meat, even in small<br />

packages. Lucayan sites with small quantities <strong>of</strong> hutia<br />

bones probably reflect small numbers <strong>of</strong> hutias in <strong>the</strong><br />

area, resulting from few encounters and even fewer captured.<br />

We see similar patterns in <strong>the</strong> distribution <strong>of</strong> bones<br />

from o<strong>the</strong>r wild game, including iguanas, crocodiles, sea<br />

turtles, and birds. All <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se would have been widely<br />

sought, but infrequently captured. In contrast, Lucayan<br />

sites with large quantities <strong>of</strong> hutia bones reflect <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

management and possible domestication. Hutias were<br />

moved south, as <strong>the</strong> Lucayans moved north. Eventually<br />

<strong>the</strong>y reached <strong>the</strong> Caicos where we now have <strong>the</strong> best<br />

evidence that hutias became <strong>the</strong> local equivalent <strong>of</strong><br />

guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus), which were domesticated<br />

in pre-colonial Peru. In fact, guineas pigs were actually<br />

brought into <strong>the</strong> Caribbean islands as an exchange item<br />

about 1,000 years ago.<br />

While hutias once were abundant throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

islands, and early European explorers saw <strong>the</strong>m <strong>of</strong>ten,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are today a threatened species protected under <strong>the</strong><br />

Wild Animals Act <strong>of</strong> 1968. There is talk <strong>of</strong> reintroducing<br />

<strong>the</strong>m to o<strong>the</strong>r Bahamian islands, but in <strong>the</strong> absence <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir natural predators such action could prove devas-<br />

Hutia bones were found at <strong>the</strong> Palmetto Junction site in Providenciales.<br />

tating. Never<strong>the</strong>less, <strong>the</strong>re are a few remote cays in The<br />

Bahamas (but not TCI) where you can still lunch with a<br />

hutia. a<br />

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

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

(University <strong>of</strong> Florida). Dr. Betsy Carlson is Senior<br />

Archaeologist at Sou<strong>the</strong>astern Archaeological Research<br />

(SEARCH, Inc.) in Jonesville, FL.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 27


eye on <strong>the</strong> sky<br />

Why is <strong>the</strong> forecast for <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> so vastly different between meteorologists and <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r apps most people use on <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

phones? Why are wea<strong>the</strong>r apps wrong so <strong>of</strong>ten in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean? In general, this is due to <strong>the</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> actual wea<strong>the</strong>r data from reporting<br />

stations throughout <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.<br />


Forecasting <strong>the</strong> Future<br />

Human versus wea<strong>the</strong>r app – which is more accurate in <strong>the</strong> TCI?<br />

I have been forecasting <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r for <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> for <strong>the</strong> better part <strong>of</strong> eight years now.<br />

The number one comment/question I get? “My app shows it raining <strong>the</strong> entire time I am <strong>the</strong>re, will it<br />

really be a washout for our trip?” Of <strong>the</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong> questions I have answered over <strong>the</strong> years, this one<br />

comprises probably 95% <strong>of</strong> everything asked. And this is a very valid question because it can alter how<br />

we go about our trip planning. It can range from anything as simple as adjusting attire to something as<br />

drastic as cancelling or delaying a trip.<br />

By Paul Wilkerson<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 29


This surreal scene captures <strong>the</strong> tones <strong>of</strong> sunset at South Side Marina on Providenciales.<br />

With that question in mind, let’s discuss <strong>the</strong> origins<br />

<strong>of</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r forecasting in <strong>the</strong> Western Hemisphere, and<br />

discuss why you see such a difference between a forecast<br />

a meteorologist puts out versus what that app on your<br />

phone shows.<br />

Wea<strong>the</strong>r predicting has been around for several thousand<br />

years. In <strong>the</strong> earliest times, humans didn’t have<br />

access to wea<strong>the</strong>r radar, satellite images, or <strong>the</strong> plethora<br />

<strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r data we have at our disposal today. Early<br />

forecasts were made simply by watching for recurring<br />

meteorological events throughout <strong>the</strong> year during each<br />

season. By surmising what was occurring in a particular<br />

season, <strong>the</strong> earliest forecasters could <strong>the</strong>n watch for<br />

those same cues during <strong>the</strong> following corresponding season<br />

to build a library <strong>of</strong> potential wea<strong>the</strong>r forecasts.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> United States, wea<strong>the</strong>r forecasting really came<br />

into being with <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first large-scale<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r observation network in 1849. One hundred fifty<br />

stations comprised this first-<strong>of</strong>-its-kind network that<br />

reported wea<strong>the</strong>r conditions at regular intervals each<br />

day. By 1860, that network had ballooned to 500 stations<br />

across <strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

During that day and age, <strong>the</strong> human wea<strong>the</strong>r observer<br />

was <strong>the</strong> defacto “super-computer.” The information <strong>the</strong>se<br />

stations provided lent greater abilities to begin forecasting<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r into <strong>the</strong> future. By 1869, a telegraph service<br />

was creating wea<strong>the</strong>r charts based <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> data provided<br />

by <strong>the</strong>se wea<strong>the</strong>r observers. These charts were <strong>the</strong> catalyst<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> modern wea<strong>the</strong>r forecast provided by people.<br />

In early 1870, <strong>the</strong> U.S. Wea<strong>the</strong>r Bureau was created as<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> U.S. Army Signal Service. In 1890, <strong>the</strong> Wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Bureau was brought out from under <strong>the</strong> U.S. Army Signal<br />

Service and became a fully civilian-run agency under <strong>the</strong><br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Agriculture. In July 1970, <strong>the</strong> name <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Wea<strong>the</strong>r Bureau was changed to <strong>the</strong> National Wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Service. At <strong>the</strong> same time, <strong>the</strong> National Wea<strong>the</strong>r Service<br />

was placed under <strong>the</strong> National Oceanic and Atmospheric<br />

Administration (NOAA) within <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong><br />

Commerce where it remains. It comprises 122 stations<br />

across <strong>the</strong> United States and Puerto Rico. Each station is<br />

responsible for forecasting services for a pre-determined<br />

area that may encompass parts <strong>of</strong> several states and millions<br />

<strong>of</strong> people.<br />

30 www.timespub.tc

So why is <strong>the</strong>re such a disparity in forecasts between<br />

meteorologists and <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r apps most people use<br />

on <strong>the</strong>ir phones? In particular, why is <strong>the</strong> forecast for <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> so vastly different between <strong>the</strong><br />

two entities? Why are wea<strong>the</strong>r apps wrong so <strong>of</strong>ten in <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean? In general, this is due to <strong>the</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> actual<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r data from reporting stations throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean. The apps that your phones utilize are pulling<br />

data from wea<strong>the</strong>r models.<br />

For <strong>the</strong> Caribbean, <strong>the</strong> most <strong>of</strong>ten used models in<br />

forecasting are <strong>the</strong> American Global Forecast System<br />

(GFS), and <strong>the</strong> European Model (EURO). These models<br />

ingest real-time data from a Global Upper Air Network. In<br />

<strong>the</strong> United States, <strong>the</strong>re are at least 92 stations providing<br />

this data, while only 10 stations stretched out across <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean are providing data.<br />

Globally, more than 800 stations are active. These<br />

stations send up balloons every morning and evening,<br />

collecting data between <strong>the</strong> surface and 80,000 feet or<br />

so, sometimes higher. When this data is transmitted back<br />

to <strong>the</strong> stations, it heads to super-computers in <strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

and Europe, where <strong>the</strong> data is converted into wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

forecast models that predict forecasts out 10 to 15 days<br />

in advance.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> United States, wea<strong>the</strong>r apps tend to have more<br />

accuracy because <strong>the</strong>y are utilizing this model data that<br />

is derived from at least 92 different points across <strong>the</strong><br />

country. These 92 stations enable a really good picture <strong>of</strong><br />

our atmosphere to be fed into computers that <strong>the</strong>n work<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir algorithmic magic to produce forecasts for locations<br />

across <strong>the</strong> country.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos, unfortunately, <strong>the</strong>re are no stations<br />

on <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. There also are no stations to <strong>the</strong> east<br />

and very few stations to <strong>the</strong> south or west. (Remember<br />

<strong>the</strong>re are only 10 total in all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.) This means<br />

very little valuable data is available, and with that, error<br />

increases dramatically. Now imagine starting with this<br />

error/lack <strong>of</strong> data, and <strong>the</strong>n trying to forecast it out into<br />

<strong>the</strong> future. The error generally grows, and as a result, you<br />

end up with highly erroneous model data for some parts<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Caribbean, which in turn is presented to you in<br />

your wea<strong>the</strong>r app on your phone. The forecasts on nearly<br />

all wea<strong>the</strong>r apps are produced by model wea<strong>the</strong>r data.<br />

The flip side to <strong>the</strong>se wea<strong>the</strong>r apps is found in a true<br />

meteorologist, and in some cases, wea<strong>the</strong>r enthusiasts<br />

who have studied a long time and have learned how <strong>the</strong><br />

tropics react over <strong>the</strong> years. As meteorologists, we have<br />

access to <strong>the</strong> same data <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r apps are using to<br />

create those highly erroneous forecasts. As expected<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 31

TMW<strong>2022</strong>.qxp_Layout 1 3/2/22 3:41 PM Page 1<br />

M Page 1<br />



Serving international & domestic clients<br />

in real estate, property development, mortgages,<br />

corporate matters, commercial matters,<br />

immigration, and more.<br />



TELEPHONE 649.946.4261 | TMW@TMWLAW.TC<br />





Lures and Live Bait<br />

Marine Hardware & Gear<br />

Fishing Gear & Supplies<br />

Marine Paints & Varnish<br />

Marine Batteries<br />

Sebago Docksiders<br />

& Sperry Topsiders Shoes<br />

BLUE<br />

BLUE<br />

HILLS<br />

HILLS<br />

ROAD<br />

ROAD<br />



TURKS<br />

TURKS<br />

& CAICOS<br />

CAICOS<br />

ISLANDS,<br />

ISLANDS,<br />

B.W.I.<br />

B.W.I.<br />

PHONE: 649-946-4411<br />

FAX: 649-946-4945<br />

though, we have a significant advantage. We have access<br />

to satellite data, current wea<strong>the</strong>r observations, wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

radars, aircraft wea<strong>the</strong>r reports, and so on. Many <strong>of</strong> us<br />

have been through college to learn about <strong>the</strong> atmosphere<br />

and how it behaves, and for many, in particular, <strong>the</strong><br />

Tropics.<br />

We are able to do what no computer can do. We can<br />

take our experience during our careers, lessons we have<br />

learned, our training, and consultation with colleagues,<br />

to provide forecasts for a location like <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

that are far superior to what a wea<strong>the</strong>r app will provide.<br />

The wea<strong>the</strong>r knowledge we are able to apply is an invaluable<br />

tool in wea<strong>the</strong>r forecasting, and it really shines in<br />

locations where real-time wea<strong>the</strong>r data is sparse. Will<br />

we get <strong>the</strong> forecast wrong? At times, <strong>of</strong> course! The<br />

atmosphere is fluid, and Mo<strong>the</strong>r Nature doesn’t always<br />

cooperate.<br />

Next time you take a look at your wea<strong>the</strong>r app and<br />

it calls for “gloom and doom,” try to remember how that<br />

information is developed. If you are ever concerned about<br />

<strong>the</strong> forecast for your trip, you are welcome to send me a<br />

message on <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos Wea<strong>the</strong>r Info page on<br />

Facebook. I would be happy to help ease your concerns.<br />

As well, <strong>the</strong> TCI is in <strong>the</strong> early stages <strong>of</strong> developing<br />

its own National Meteorological Services through <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Airport Authority, led by Director<br />

<strong>of</strong> Meteorology Dr. Holly Hamilton. Its aim is to provide<br />

wea<strong>the</strong>r forecasts, warnings <strong>of</strong> hazardous wea<strong>the</strong>r, and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r wea<strong>the</strong>r-related products for <strong>the</strong> purposes <strong>of</strong> protection,<br />

safety, and general information.<br />

The government realizes that <strong>the</strong> country cannot<br />

continue to rely on o<strong>the</strong>r countries to provide data. As<br />

hurricanes and climate change make wea<strong>the</strong>r events<br />

more disastrous and dangerous, <strong>the</strong> TCI needs real time<br />

information provided by state-<strong>of</strong>-<strong>the</strong>-art equipment so<br />

that we know what is going to happen. This will allow for<br />

early warning and early action. 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 />

32 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 5122 • 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 />

The DECR team is preparing an herbarium specimen at Bird Rock Point, Providenciales. From left are: Christopher May, DECR; Brianna Walcott,<br />

TC National Trust; B Naqqi Manco, DECR; and Junel “Flash” Blaise, DECR.<br />


Building on <strong>the</strong> Past<br />

DECR debuts two exciting new projects.<br />

By B Naqqi Manco, Assistant Director <strong>of</strong> Research and Development, DECR<br />

When you love something, <strong>the</strong>re’s always a fear. Parents fret about <strong>the</strong>ir children, homeowners worry<br />

about <strong>the</strong>ir fortresses, and collectors obsess over <strong>the</strong> security <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir hoards. For those <strong>of</strong> us who love<br />

our work, that concern translates into anxiety regarding legacy. Will <strong>the</strong> hard work we have done to protect<br />

something be in vain? Will we be able to release our hold on our beloved toil confidently to those<br />

who come next? Within <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR), many <strong>of</strong> us ask <strong>the</strong>se<br />

questions—especially those <strong>of</strong> us who have been at it for some time.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 33

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

Over two decades ago I returned to Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> from university to begin work on a UK-funded<br />

project focusing on <strong>the</strong> North, Middle, and East Caicos<br />

Nature Reserve, a site listed under <strong>the</strong> Ramsar Convention<br />

on Wetlands <strong>of</strong> International Importance as a Ramsar<br />

site. I trudged through mangrove swamps, salt marshes,<br />

flooded forests, and one particularly bizarre and treacherous<br />

habitat that comprised seemingly endless sinkholes<br />

choked with tangled red mangrove and sawgrass, each<br />

ringed by rain-eroded razor rock bedecked with poisonwood<br />

and skin-ripping spiny box briar.<br />

My physique at <strong>the</strong> time allowed me to sink less far<br />

into <strong>the</strong> sulphurously putrid mud, and my end-<strong>of</strong>-day<br />

exhaustion was markedly less than it would be now.<br />

But for <strong>the</strong>se costs, I was supplied with rare glimpses <strong>of</strong><br />

endangered West Indian whistling ducks, gentle slaps in<br />

<strong>the</strong> face by dangling rubbery leaves <strong>of</strong> mahogany mistletoe,<br />

close encounters with surprisingly curious flamingos,<br />

and numerous scenes that astounded sight and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

senses.<br />

We were assessing habitats based on satellite imagery<br />

that threw coarse 30 x 30-meter pixels <strong>of</strong> colour<br />

across habitats, using GPS units that may or may not<br />

have been <strong>of</strong>f by as much<br />

as 50 meters, and I was<br />

having to learn species <strong>of</strong><br />

plants by immediate sight<br />

on a logarithmic learning<br />

curve. My special interests<br />

in reptiles and orchids<br />

were rarely disappointed.<br />

My appreciation for all<br />

things green and all things<br />

creepy was both enthralled<br />

and tested—sometimes<br />

simultaneously. (Having<br />

a dragonfly attracted to<br />

a headlamp at night is<br />

an experience something<br />

akin to getting hit in <strong>the</strong><br />

face by a metallic fairy carrying<br />

a baby rattle.)<br />

Through <strong>the</strong> next two<br />

decades, I worked on various<br />

field-based projects<br />

focused on plants, seeds,<br />

bats, iguanas, snakes, spiders, butterflies, beetles, birds,<br />

mysterious cave invertebrates, historic human populations,<br />

bush medicine, and <strong>of</strong> course <strong>the</strong> National Tree,<br />

Caicos pine. I noted gaps in knowledge, such as whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

or not hutias still live in TCI, how extensive ranges are <strong>of</strong><br />

our rarest endemic plants, and what on earth is going on<br />

with two strange populations <strong>of</strong> Encyclia orchids that key<br />

out to a species <strong>of</strong> which <strong>the</strong>y don’t fit <strong>the</strong> description.<br />

Two years ago, my role in DECR changed, and I was<br />

lifted from <strong>the</strong> bush to a somewhat higher position—and<br />

while I have had more opportunity to steer <strong>the</strong> directions<br />

projects take, <strong>the</strong> resettlement to a more desk-based job<br />

has been both challenging and worrying. What would<br />

become <strong>of</strong> my past work?<br />

I needn’t have worried. This year, DECR has pushed<br />

full-throttle into two exciting new projects that largely<br />

build on work going back those 20 years. Both supported<br />

by UK Government’s Darwin Plus funding scheme, <strong>the</strong>se<br />

projects seek to fill some <strong>of</strong> those knowledge gaps identified<br />

over past courses <strong>of</strong> work.<br />

The Darwin Plus 129 project, “Understanding<br />

Ramsar Wetland Dynamics for Marine Conservation and<br />

Environmental Resilience,” is using far superior tools and<br />

This rare patch <strong>of</strong> Encyclia orchids on Middle Caicos may be a new variety, subspecies, or even species to<br />

science.<br />


34 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

If you look closely, you can spot <strong>the</strong> flamingos flying over Flamingo Pond, North Caicos, one <strong>of</strong> many important parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site.<br />

technology to revisit, refine, and expand upon our understanding<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site. It uses both remote sensing and Development team as Terrestrial Ecologist, stepping<br />

In March <strong>2022</strong>, Dodly Prosper joined <strong>the</strong> Research<br />

and ground-truthing work to identify current habitats, into <strong>the</strong> role <strong>of</strong> major contact point for <strong>the</strong> Darwin Plus<br />

understand changes over time, and extrapolate potential 114 Tropical Important Plant Areas project. A month later,<br />

impacts <strong>of</strong> climate change on <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site and <strong>the</strong> Christopher May joined <strong>the</strong> team as Wetlands Ecologist<br />

ecosystem services it provides for us.<br />

for <strong>the</strong> Darwin Plus 129 Ramsar mapping project. Both<br />

The Darwin Plus 114 project, “Tropical Important have learnt <strong>the</strong>ir roles quickly and efficiently and use <strong>the</strong><br />

Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI,” aims commonalities <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir projects to carry out collaborative<br />

to identify areas that qualify as Tropical Important Plant fieldwork as much as possible.<br />

Areas, to assess <strong>the</strong> conservation status <strong>of</strong> our endemic In this issue’s Green Pages, Mr. Prosper and Mr. May<br />

and near-endemic plant species, and to better understand<br />

<strong>the</strong> taxonomic relations <strong>of</strong> two important groups <strong>of</strong> ing, ensuring that <strong>the</strong> foundation <strong>of</strong> work upon which so<br />

introduce <strong>the</strong> projects on which <strong>the</strong>y are currently focus-<br />

plants—including those confounding Encyclia orchid populations<br />

about which I’ve been obsessing for 15 years. conservation efforts into <strong>the</strong> future. a<br />

many o<strong>the</strong>rs have contributed will continue to support<br />

I don’t get into <strong>the</strong> field as much as I would like to<br />

anymore, but I still join as <strong>of</strong>ten as I can. The relieving<br />

part <strong>of</strong> being frequently desk-bound is <strong>the</strong> capacity <strong>of</strong><br />

our terrestrial ecology team to carry out <strong>the</strong> work. Junel<br />

“Flash” Blaise has been with DECR for 12 years and has<br />

<strong>the</strong> sharpest eyes I’ve ever known for spotting and identifying<br />

tiny plants and distant birds. (When he identifies a<br />

backlit seabird half a mile away as a sooty tern, I insist it<br />

isn’t even a bird, but just a lowercase m.) His understanding<br />

<strong>of</strong> TCI’s wildlife and habitats has been instrumental in<br />

training new staff for <strong>the</strong> challenging field roles.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 35

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />


Clockwise from top left are some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> species <strong>of</strong> flora and fauna fround in <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site nature reserve: Caicos pine seedling; Caicos<br />

pine forest, Middle Caicos; hawksbill sea turtle, Middle Caicos; and blue crab, North Caicos. The Darwin Plus Project 129 aims to provide more<br />

detailed scientific research and exploration <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> reserve to aid in future conservation efforts.<br />

Using Technology to<br />

Preserve Nature<br />

Darwin Plus 129 Ramsar Site Mapping Project.<br />

By Christopher May, Wetlands Ecologist, DECR<br />

The wetland habitats <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> North, Middle, and East Caicos Nature Reserve support several important<br />

functions that benefit <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, both nationally and internationally. The nature reserve<br />

is recognised as a wetland <strong>of</strong> international importance under <strong>the</strong> Ramsar Convention, due to its worldwide<br />

relevance in <strong>the</strong> conservation <strong>of</strong> species such as birds, plants, and marine reptiles.<br />

36 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

As both a protected area and a Ramsar site, it <strong>of</strong>fers<br />

many functions and benefits which include habitats for<br />

native and migratory biota, protection <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> from<br />

storms and hurricanes, carbon sequestering and storage,<br />

and cultural and historical relevance. Ecosystems within<br />

<strong>the</strong> Ramsar site include coastal habitats, intertidal mangrove<br />

forests and marshlands, shrublands, limestone<br />

forests, pine rocklands, ponds, and blue holes. These<br />

environments provide niche habitats for marine fishes,<br />

crustaceans, reptiles, and migratory birds like flamingos<br />

and ducks. In order to better understand <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site<br />

and its threats, DECR is using both on-<strong>the</strong>-ground data<br />

collection and GIS imagery to remotely sense changes to<br />

<strong>the</strong> site over time.<br />

The Darwin Plus Project 129, “Understanding<br />

Ramsar Wetland Dynamics for Marine Conservation and<br />

Environmental Resilience,” aims to provide more detailed<br />

scientific research and exploration <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> reserve, to provide<br />

evidence for future conservation efforts. The Ramsar<br />

site, like many wetlands, is threatened by <strong>the</strong> looming<br />

and ever encroaching effects <strong>of</strong> climate change, urbanization,<br />

and pollution. Forested areas are threatened by<br />

fragmentation when development occurs; water bodies<br />

above and below ground are threatened by contamination;<br />

and poaching and overharvesting puts wildlife<br />

populations at risk. Climate change also produces many<br />

long-term changes, including rises in temperature, fluctuations<br />

in drought and precipitation cycles, wildfires, sea<br />

level rise, fluctuations in <strong>the</strong> production cycle <strong>of</strong> plants,<br />

and changes in spawning and migration cycles <strong>of</strong> animals.<br />

Environment Systems Ltd. (ES) has been partnering<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources<br />

(DECR) <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Government for<br />

almost eight years on various projects focusing on mapping<br />

and GIS technology. Along with DECR and ES, o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

international agencies are partnering on this project to<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>r data and samples, identify areas at risk, and produce<br />

interactive maps modelled to project how climate<br />

change will affect <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site over <strong>the</strong> course <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

next 80 years. The o<strong>the</strong>r organizations involved (Joint<br />

Nature Conservation Committee, Marine Conservation<br />

Society, University <strong>of</strong> Exeter, and Wavehill) contribute<br />

to <strong>the</strong> overall technological output, data management,<br />

In November <strong>2022</strong>, Environmental Systems team members visited TCI. The workshop included an exciting field day where <strong>the</strong>y visited five<br />

very different habitats in <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 37

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />


This mangrove island is found within Flamingo Pond on North Caicos. It is ano<strong>the</strong>r example <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> natural beauty found in <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site.<br />

capacity building, public outreach, and biota tracking/<br />

monitoring. The teams’ collective goals are to produce a<br />

monitoring framework for long term studies, to expand<br />

technical and scientific capacities within <strong>the</strong> country, and<br />

to increase local and international awareness for social<br />

backing in environmental causes. Historical changes and<br />

meteorological data will be evaluated to provide evidence<br />

for <strong>the</strong> more protective measures, and to support <strong>the</strong><br />

legal extension <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site and nature reserve into<br />

East Caicos.<br />

In November <strong>2022</strong>, ES team members visited TCI to<br />

run <strong>the</strong> project’s first in-person workshop, which included<br />

GIS satellite imagery manipulation training, several focus<br />

sessions on different aspects <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site, and an<br />

exciting field day where five very different habitats in <strong>the</strong><br />

Ramsar site were visited, including pine rocklands, buttonwood<br />

swamp, salina, dwarf red mangrove swamp, and<br />

mangrove pond.<br />

The DECR team members assigned and now well<br />

trained to sample <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site have been steadily<br />

involved in <strong>the</strong> creation <strong>of</strong> access trails, data sampling <strong>the</strong><br />

extents <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> habitats, and expanding public knowledge<br />

and technical capacities through workshops and outreach<br />

activities. The recordings are documented and presented<br />

to government <strong>of</strong>ficials to support <strong>the</strong> longevity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

protection <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se important ecosystems through legal<br />

declaration and funding. Photographic and videographic<br />

material is also generated to invite <strong>the</strong> public and tourists<br />

a glimpse into <strong>the</strong> habitats, to increase awareness and<br />

attachment to <strong>the</strong>se key resources and wildlife.<br />

The beauty and importance <strong>of</strong> TCI’s wildlife and<br />

landscape should not be understated, nor should it be<br />

neglected and destroyed. The ES and DECR teams have<br />

worked to improve local understanding and appreciation<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> work being done. Two videos were presented at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos International Film Festival to share<br />

with young students <strong>the</strong> wonderment and experience<br />

<strong>of</strong> working within <strong>the</strong> environments. Several online and<br />

in-person workshops have been conducted to provide<br />

interdepartmental synergy and capacity building with<br />

regards to data sampling and monitoring strategies using<br />

maps. Photographs and videos have and will continue to<br />

be shared to media outlets to invite <strong>the</strong> public to witness<br />

<strong>the</strong> illustrious beauty <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ramsar site and its irreplaceable<br />

animals and plants.<br />

The “Beautiful by Nature” motto <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> country must<br />

be reflected in <strong>the</strong> collective willingness to protect, conserve,<br />

and preserve <strong>the</strong> environment, and <strong>the</strong> Darwin Plus<br />

129 project is using technology to ensure that it is. a<br />

38 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />


Clockwise from top left: Encyclia caicensis specimen found on<br />

Crossing Place Trail, Middle Caicos. Dr. Colin Clubbe and Sara Barrios<br />

(RBG Kew) and Christopher May (DECR) on <strong>the</strong> TIPAs research team<br />

conducting surveys in <strong>the</strong> North, Middle and East Caicos Nature<br />

Reserve on North Caicos. Herbarium specimen <strong>of</strong> Encyclia caicensis<br />

collected and dried, ready for shipment to RBG Kew for fur<strong>the</strong>r study.<br />

Eventually, specimens like this will be returned to TCI’s National<br />

Herbarium, currently being developed.<br />

Chasing Flowers for TIPAs<br />

Darwin Plus 114 Tropical Important Plant Areas Project<br />

By Dodly Prosper, Terrestrial Ecologist, DECR<br />

When you turn a mesmerised eye from <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>’ stunning turquoise waters, you’ll<br />

view <strong>the</strong> various hues and tints <strong>of</strong> greens and browns <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 541 species <strong>of</strong> native plants that create <strong>the</strong><br />

mosaics <strong>of</strong> its terrestrial habitats.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 39

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

While much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> attention to Turk & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>’<br />

natural beauty is focused on <strong>the</strong> sea, our terrestrial habitats<br />

and <strong>the</strong> plant communities on which <strong>the</strong>y are based<br />

are why we are here at all. We <strong>of</strong>ten don’t notice plants;<br />

<strong>the</strong>y form a verdant but taken-for-granted backdrop that<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten goes unseen until <strong>the</strong>y are missing; a phenomenon<br />

known to science as “plant blindness.” Many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se<br />

plants are unique regionally, some only to <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, but we have only just begun to understand<br />

<strong>the</strong> natural services <strong>the</strong>y provide us. Researching<br />

and protecting our native plants is <strong>the</strong> focus <strong>of</strong> a new<br />

conservation project.<br />

The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (RBG Kew) and <strong>the</strong><br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR)<br />

have partnered on <strong>the</strong> Darwin Plus 114, “Tropical<br />

Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>” project, supported by <strong>the</strong> United<br />

Kingdom’s Darwin Plus grant programme. Although partnership<br />

on this project began in 2019, its <strong>of</strong>ficial launch<br />

was delayed to <strong>2022</strong> due to COVID-19-related travel<br />

restrictions, along with restructuring within both DECR<br />

and RBG Kew.<br />

Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) are a network<br />

<strong>of</strong> key sites that are identified by criteria regarding threatened<br />

species, imperilled habitats, and botanical richness<br />

using scientifically robust data. TIPAs are not legal designations,<br />

but a means to identify <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

sites for wild plant diversity and to guide and inform <strong>the</strong><br />

management and protection <strong>of</strong> those populations and<br />

habitats. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent <strong>the</strong> global<br />

loss <strong>of</strong> plant diversity, whilst safeguarding <strong>the</strong> role <strong>of</strong><br />

plants as primary producers and providers <strong>of</strong> ecosystem<br />

infrastructure, products, and services.<br />

The TIPAs TCI project has identified 57 priority species,<br />

<strong>of</strong> which 8 are endemic to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos and<br />

56 are range-restricted species. The main objective <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

project is identifying areas that qualify as TIPAs under <strong>the</strong><br />

criteria set by Plantlife International, International Union<br />

for Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature (IUCN), and RBG Kew; and to<br />

map a TIPAs network for TCI.<br />

The project also aims to resolve taxonomic issues<br />

regarding <strong>the</strong> unique populations <strong>of</strong> Encyclia and Agave<br />

species using genomic methods, and conduct IUCN Red<br />

Listing <strong>of</strong> endemic and near-endemic plants centred in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> over <strong>the</strong> three-year duration <strong>of</strong><br />

this project. In addition, <strong>the</strong> project plans to train DECR<br />

This spirit specimen was collected from Encyclia caicensis in Mudjin<br />

Harbor, Middle Caicos.<br />

staff both in <strong>the</strong> field in TCI and at <strong>the</strong> Herbarium and<br />

Tropical Nursery at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK), to<br />

collect and store <strong>the</strong> seeds <strong>of</strong> threatened species, to promote<br />

plant conservation in TCI, and to identify socially,<br />

economically, or culturally valuable species.<br />

Following <strong>the</strong> TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop in May<br />

<strong>2022</strong>, <strong>the</strong> DECR and RBG Kew teams began conducting<br />

vegetative surveys on Middle and North Caicos, collecting<br />

herbarium, spirit and DNA specimens <strong>of</strong> flowering<br />

Encyclia caicensis while geotagging <strong>the</strong>ir populations.<br />

Although Encyclia caicensis is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> eight endemic<br />

species, two Middle Caicos populations were prioritised<br />

due to <strong>the</strong>ir flowers blooming half a year <strong>of</strong>f from <strong>the</strong> species<br />

description, which may allude to it being genetically<br />

dissimilar and possibly a new variety, subspecies, or even<br />

species to science. This possibility is also true for Agave<br />

millspaughii, however, despite growing to heights <strong>of</strong> five<br />

metres, <strong>the</strong>y are far rarer and prove to be harder to find<br />

when you compare it to <strong>the</strong> ever-so fragrant and vibrantly<br />

coloured Encyclia caicensis.<br />

For <strong>the</strong> remainder <strong>of</strong> <strong>2022</strong>, both teams will continue<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir surveys and collections in Providenciales, West<br />

Caicos, Salt Cay, and Grand Turk, following <strong>the</strong> various<br />

blooming periods <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Encyclia species and documenting<br />

populations <strong>of</strong> rare and endemic plants throughout<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. a<br />

Dodly Prosper is a Grand Turk Terrestrial Ecologist,<br />

based in North Caicos. B Naqqi Manco is a botanist and<br />

Assistant Director <strong>of</strong> Research and Development, also<br />

based in North Caicos. Both are researchers for <strong>the</strong><br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Environment & Coastal Resources.<br />


40 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

A flamingo tongue snail (Cyphoma gibbosum) perches on a small gorgonian (Gorgonia ventalina) during a night dive near South Caicos. The<br />

relationship between <strong>the</strong> two blur <strong>the</strong> lines between predation and parasitism.<br />

Home Is Where <strong>the</strong> Food Is<br />

The Flamingo tongue snail: Predator and parasite.<br />

It’s easy to conjure images <strong>of</strong> predation: a lion pouncing on its prey, an owl hunting for mice, a spider<br />

entwining a fly in its web. Similarly, one can picture classic examples <strong>of</strong> parasitism: a tapeworm, fleas on<br />

a dog, <strong>the</strong> tick that ruined a summer camping trip. In nature, however, <strong>the</strong>re exist complex relationships<br />

that don’t fit neatly into <strong>the</strong>se simple examples, and some that even blur <strong>the</strong> lines between predation<br />

and parasitism.<br />

By Corinne Pita (University <strong>of</strong> Michigan) and Julia de los Reyes (Yale University),<br />

The School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies, South Caicos<br />

Photos By Dr. C.E. O’Brien<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 41

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

One example <strong>of</strong> this is <strong>the</strong> relationship between sea<br />

fans and <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue, a curious little snail that is<br />

both predator and parasite. This relationship can be seen<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> clear blue waters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong>, where <strong>the</strong> common sea fan and flamingo tongue<br />

are found in abundance.<br />

The common sea fan, Gorgonia ventalina, is a species<br />

<strong>of</strong> coral abundant in near-shore reefs throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

Caribbean and Western Atlantic, easily identified by its<br />

purple color and wispy, fan-like shape. Often seen swaying<br />

in <strong>the</strong> ocean current, G. ventalina is a member <strong>of</strong> a<br />

group <strong>of</strong> similarly wispy corals known as gorgonians and<br />

is broadly classified as an octocoral, meaning that its polyps—<strong>the</strong><br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> tiny animals that toge<strong>the</strong>r comprise<br />

a large coral—have eight small tentacles. These tentacles<br />

are used to catch its food: tiny bits <strong>of</strong> floating plankton.<br />

While <strong>the</strong>y are predators <strong>of</strong> plankton, sea fans are <strong>the</strong>mselves<br />

<strong>the</strong> prey <strong>of</strong> various marine predators, each armed<br />

with unique adaptations to easily consume sea fans.<br />

The flamingo tongue, also known as Cyphoma gibbosum,<br />

is a marine mollusc present throughout <strong>the</strong> tropical<br />

western Atlantic Ocean on shallow gorgonian-dominated<br />

reefs. The characteristically beautiful patterns present on<br />

C. gibbosum make <strong>the</strong>m easily visible when <strong>the</strong>y take residence<br />

on sea fans and o<strong>the</strong>r octocorals like sea plumes<br />

and sea rods. These patterns can differ greatly between<br />

individuals, so much so that scientists once thought that<br />

different shell patterns indicated <strong>the</strong> existence <strong>of</strong> multiple<br />

species! C. gibbosum is most <strong>of</strong>ten seen with orange<br />

spots outlined in black, but o<strong>the</strong>r patterns such as “fingerprint”<br />

(elongated orange lines outlined in black) and<br />

“broken spots” (similar spot pattern with black outlines<br />

partially dissipating) also exist.<br />

While <strong>the</strong>se different characteristics caused scientists<br />

in <strong>the</strong> 18th and 19th centuries to declare <strong>the</strong>se flamingo<br />

tongues different species, today we have DNA analysis to<br />

tell us this is not <strong>the</strong> case. However, <strong>the</strong> reason for <strong>the</strong> difference<br />

in shell patterns is actually unknown, even today,<br />

and various hypo<strong>the</strong>ses as to <strong>the</strong> reason for this disparity<br />

are being investigated. One possible explanation is<br />

in-process species divergence, which is <strong>the</strong> hypo<strong>the</strong>sis<br />

that C. gibbosum is in <strong>the</strong> middle <strong>of</strong> becoming separate<br />

species since morphological differences tend to precede<br />

genetic differences. Such a hypo<strong>the</strong>sis implies that we<br />

are witness to a stage in species divergence where morphological<br />

differences have occurred but not genetic. To<br />

This side-by-side comparison shows <strong>the</strong> difference between <strong>the</strong> “fingerprint” flamingo tongue pattern (left) and <strong>the</strong> “spotted” pattern (right.)<br />

Many hypo<strong>the</strong>ses exist for <strong>the</strong> differences in patterning.<br />

42 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

prove this, fur<strong>the</strong>r study demonstrating a mating preference<br />

between flamingo tongues with <strong>the</strong> same pattern<br />

would be needed.<br />

Then <strong>the</strong>re’s <strong>the</strong> supergene hypo<strong>the</strong>sis, which <strong>the</strong><br />

belief that flamingo tongues have a supergene, or a<br />

strongly linked set <strong>of</strong> DNA sequences that don’t <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

get separated over generations and which code for certain<br />

morphological features. This scenario can result in<br />

common and rare morphologies within a species, <strong>the</strong><br />

common ones here being <strong>the</strong> spotted orange and black<br />

circle pattern, and <strong>the</strong> rare being <strong>the</strong> fingerprint and broken<br />

spot patterns. Many o<strong>the</strong>r hypo<strong>the</strong>ses exist for <strong>the</strong><br />

differences in patterning, but all point to one fact: C. gibbosum<br />

is a much more diverse and multi-faceted species<br />

than meets <strong>the</strong> eye.<br />

What’s more, beyond <strong>the</strong> eye-catching coloration <strong>of</strong><br />

C. gibbosum lies a violent and intriguing story. At first<br />

glance, <strong>the</strong> spotted snail perched on <strong>the</strong> swaying sea fan<br />

looks innocent—serene, even. However, a closer look<br />

reveals a complicated picture <strong>of</strong> both predation and parasitism.<br />

C. gibbosum is a predator in that it consumes<br />

G. ventalina and o<strong>the</strong>r s<strong>of</strong>t coral polyps for sustenance.<br />

Because <strong>of</strong> this, <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue is classified as a<br />

“tissue-stripping tropical corallivore.” But <strong>the</strong> flamingo<br />

tongue also lives on its prey. How is it possible for an<br />

organism to maintain long-term residency on something<br />

it chooses to eat? The answer is that C. gibbosum rarely<br />

kills its hosts, eating it slowly enough that <strong>the</strong> prey is able<br />

regenerate its lost tissues.<br />

What this means is that C. gibbosum may not be a true<br />

predator, but instead can be classified as an exoparasite,<br />

a parasite that affects its prey from <strong>the</strong> outside. Unlike<br />

some o<strong>the</strong>r parasites such as tapeworms or ringworms,<br />

flamingo tongues do <strong>the</strong>ir damage without entering <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

hosts. Flamingo tongues benefit from <strong>the</strong>ir sea fan’s<br />

continued functionality, purposely inducing only small<br />

amounts <strong>of</strong> damage on <strong>the</strong>ir prey/hosts. By not causing<br />

total mortality in <strong>the</strong>ir prey/host, flamingo tongues have<br />

found a way to gain a long-lasting home as well as a reusable<br />

food source. Indeed, all life stages <strong>of</strong> this species<br />

are dependent on <strong>the</strong>ir host: C. gibbosum individuals lay<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir eggs on gorgonians, from which free-floating larvae<br />

develop after a week, settling back onto gorgonian colonies<br />

as juveniles.<br />

Here, a flamingo tongue is predating on a s<strong>of</strong>t coral. On <strong>the</strong> left, <strong>the</strong><br />

flamingo tongue foot is visible. On <strong>the</strong> right, <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue has<br />

crawled a small distance away, exposing <strong>the</strong> empty cavities (black<br />

dots) <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coral polyps it has just eaten.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r interesting aspect <strong>of</strong> this relationship<br />

involves chemical warfare: Sea fans have evolved toxins<br />

to ward <strong>of</strong>f predation, which are effective against many <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir potential predators. Known as allelochemicals, <strong>the</strong>se<br />

substances are known in part for <strong>the</strong>ir bad taste, but<br />

more so for <strong>the</strong>ir toxicity to many potential consumers.<br />

While this scary-sounding collection <strong>of</strong> chemicals seems<br />

like it would be too much for a little flamingo tongue, this<br />

stubborn mollusc has evolved resistance to host chemical<br />

defenses such as <strong>the</strong>se. Recent studies have suggested<br />

that marine consumers like <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue can tolerate<br />

toxin-laden prey through <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> special<br />

enzymes, biological catalysts that respond to specific<br />

chemical signatures. While <strong>the</strong>y serve many purposes,<br />

enzymes in <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue and o<strong>the</strong>r marine consumers<br />

are believed to be able to neutralize <strong>the</strong> toxins in<br />

sea fans to keep <strong>the</strong>m from inflicting <strong>the</strong>ir catastrophic<br />

effects.<br />

With <strong>the</strong>se methods allowing C. gibbosum to consume<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir toxic prey, <strong>the</strong>se molluscs don’t just survive,<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 43

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

From top: If you look closely, you can spot a baby flamingo tongue<br />

snail. Research suggests that <strong>the</strong> gorgonian-munching flamingo<br />

tongue snail helps cultivate <strong>the</strong> diverse community structure <strong>of</strong><br />

healthy reefs by creating space for o<strong>the</strong>r types <strong>of</strong> coral to settle.<br />

but thrive on <strong>the</strong>ir poisonous diet, going so far as to<br />

assimilate <strong>the</strong> sea fan’s toxicity into <strong>the</strong>ir own tissues.<br />

This gives <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue a poisonous defense<br />

mechanism against its own predators that its bright-orange<br />

color <strong>the</strong>n advertises. Warning coloration such as<br />

this is referred to as aposematic coloration, and is meant<br />

to signal to potential predators that it’s <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> menu.<br />

This is an incredible example <strong>of</strong> coevolution, a phenomenon<br />

in which organisms evolve in response to each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r, with <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue having evolved to thrive<br />

on a diet that its prey had evolved to ward <strong>of</strong>f o<strong>the</strong>r grazers,<br />

and to even co-opt its prey’s defense mechanism as<br />

its own. This ancient “evolutionary arms race” is what<br />

we must thank for <strong>the</strong> beautiful coloration adored by<br />

snorkelers throughout <strong>the</strong> tropical western Atlantic and<br />

Caribbean.<br />

So, what’s <strong>the</strong> deal with C. gibbosum: If it is both<br />

a predator and parasite <strong>of</strong> corals, is it a threat to our<br />

dwindling coral reefs? Or does it play a key role in <strong>the</strong>se<br />

complex coral communities? The answer likely lies somewhere<br />

in <strong>the</strong> middle.<br />

Research suggests that <strong>the</strong>se gorgonian-munching<br />

snails may help maintain coral reef diversity by creating<br />

space for o<strong>the</strong>r types <strong>of</strong> coral to settle and flourish.<br />

Thus, by eating sea fans and o<strong>the</strong>r octocorals, flamingo<br />

tongues help cultivate <strong>the</strong> diverse community structure<br />

<strong>of</strong> healthy reefs. However, if <strong>the</strong>re is a change in population<br />

dynamics, this healthy natural balance can be<br />

dramatically shifted, having devastating impacts on sea<br />

fan corals. For example, a 2008 outbreak <strong>of</strong> C. gibbosum<br />

in Puerto Rico wiped out more than 90% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea fans<br />

around <strong>the</strong> remote reefs around Mona Island.<br />

One factor that can lead to this imbalance is overfishing—despite<br />

<strong>the</strong> snail’s toxicity, <strong>the</strong>re are species <strong>of</strong><br />

fish, primarily pufferfish and invertebrates such as lobster,<br />

that consume it. These snail predators indirectly<br />

maintain coral health by keeping <strong>the</strong> parasitic species in<br />

check. For example, a study in <strong>the</strong> Florida Keys found that<br />

C. gibbosum populations in areas where large predators<br />

were removed increased to nearly 20 times <strong>the</strong>ir original<br />

size, leading to extensive damage to <strong>the</strong> sea fans.<br />

Here, <strong>the</strong> relationship between flamingo tongues,<br />

sea fans, large predators, and <strong>the</strong> greater coral community<br />

demonstrates <strong>the</strong> precarious balance <strong>of</strong> nature, a<br />

precisely interwoven web vulnerable to human-mediated<br />

shifts. While most imagine predation and parasitism as<br />

44 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

something <strong>of</strong> violence and destruction, it’s important to<br />

recognize <strong>the</strong> delicate interplay <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se relationships<br />

that help to maintain balance in nature, and how necessary<br />

it is to uphold <strong>the</strong>ir existence moving forward in our<br />

changing world.<br />

This flamingo tongue has its mantle mostly retracted, exposing <strong>the</strong><br />

unpatterned white shell beneath.<br />

In case you were hoping to collect one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se beauties<br />

for your shell collection, beware: These mystifying<br />

patterns are only present in live flamingo tongues, as<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are created by a part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> mollusc’s body known<br />

as <strong>the</strong> mantle, a s<strong>of</strong>t covering that lies over <strong>the</strong> shell.<br />

When <strong>the</strong> snail dies, or when it retracts into its shell for<br />

protection, that distinct coloration disappears, leaving<br />

just a plain orange cream-colored shell in its place. As a<br />

result, flamingo tongues are best admired alive and from<br />

a distance and should be in <strong>the</strong>ir natural habitat. This<br />

way, everyone who visits our <strong>Islands</strong> will have <strong>the</strong> chance<br />

to experience <strong>the</strong> beauty <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> flamingo tongue’s shell<br />

for generations to come. a<br />

For detailed article references or more information<br />

about The School for Field Studies, contact Director Heidi<br />

Hertler on South Caicos at hhertler@fieldstudies.org or<br />

visit www.fieldstudies.org.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 45

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />



Top: Long-spined sea urchins — <strong>the</strong> “Spikey Boys” — take <strong>the</strong>ir natural place on <strong>the</strong> seabed.<br />

Left: A healthy juvenile Diadema antillarum hides from daylight under a ledge.<br />

Right: A recently dead long-spined sea urchin — notice that <strong>the</strong> spines have dropped <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

Spikey Boys<br />

The importance <strong>of</strong> having urchins.<br />

By Alizee Zimmermann, Turks & Caicos Reef Fund<br />

With flickers <strong>of</strong> iridescent blue, elegant spines <strong>of</strong> obsidian black, five self-sharpening teeth (yes, you did<br />

read that right), and an ample appetite, <strong>the</strong> long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) might just be<br />

<strong>the</strong> most interesting creature you didn’t know would fascinate you.<br />

46 www.timespub.tc

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

A deep dive into <strong>the</strong> world <strong>of</strong> echinoderms (urchins<br />

and sea stars) will send <strong>the</strong> imaginative mind reeling<br />

from images <strong>of</strong> teeth with individual jaws, limbs that can<br />

regenerate whole bodies, and painful pricks on unsuspecting<br />

feet when exploring rocky shores and surf zones.<br />

Aristotle’s Lantern (<strong>the</strong> urchin’s mouth) alone can be a little<br />

nightmarish. Truth be told though, <strong>the</strong> real nightmare<br />

would be a reef without <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

You see, <strong>the</strong>se sunlight-shy herbivores love to roam<br />

at night, “grazing <strong>the</strong> lawns” <strong>of</strong> an underwater world.<br />

Have you ever seen those halos that form around patch<br />

reefs along <strong>the</strong> banks or around coral bommies on your<br />

favourite dive sites? Those are <strong>the</strong> markings <strong>of</strong> active<br />

herbivory. Somewhat territorial and although hungry, not<br />

mindless eating-machines, <strong>the</strong> distance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir nightly<br />

travels and <strong>the</strong> vigor <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir appetites can be discerned<br />

via <strong>the</strong>se aquatic crop circles.<br />

A keystone species on our reefs, <strong>the</strong>se surprisingly<br />

active “spikey boys” keep substrate, coral skeletons,<br />

and rocks clean <strong>of</strong> algae, a must to create an attractive<br />

spot for coral larvae to settle on. Baby corals can travel<br />

through <strong>the</strong> currents for weeks at a time, looking for that<br />

perfect spot to land, at which point <strong>the</strong>y become “settlers.”<br />

A clean surface without algae is top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> list when<br />

perusing real estate options!<br />

In <strong>the</strong> mid 1980s <strong>the</strong>re was a massive die-<strong>of</strong>f <strong>of</strong> D.<br />

antillarum throughout <strong>the</strong> region, covering an area <strong>of</strong><br />

approximately 3.5 million km 2 . This loss remains one <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> most widespread invertebrate mortality events ever<br />

recorded. Over a 13-month period, more than 93% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

population perished. Beginning in Panama (with unknown<br />

origins), <strong>the</strong> die-<strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong>n extended around <strong>the</strong> Caribbean,<br />

Florida, <strong>the</strong> Flower Garden Banks, and Bermuda.<br />

Nearly four decades later, ano<strong>the</strong>r mortality event is<br />

threatening <strong>the</strong> still-recovering Atlantic and Caribbean<br />

populations. According to <strong>the</strong> Atlantic and Gulf Rapid<br />

Reef Assessment (AGRRA) program, “While we do not<br />

know what is causing <strong>the</strong>se dispersed die-<strong>of</strong>fs, <strong>the</strong> speed<br />

at which large numbers <strong>of</strong> sick urchins are now dying on<br />

affected reefs resembles <strong>the</strong> mass mortality event <strong>of</strong> four<br />

decades ago. We worry that a real crisis is developing<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean, where stony coral tissue loss disease<br />

(SCTLD) has already caused widespread coral losses<br />

affecting about 34 coral species in 20 countries/territories.”<br />

Although regional reports <strong>of</strong> urchin die-<strong>of</strong>fs seem to<br />

have stopped, we have no way <strong>of</strong> knowing if this current<br />

mortality event is over yet.<br />

This map shows <strong>the</strong> spread <strong>of</strong> D. antillarum mortality in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean<br />

and mid-west Atlantic from January 1983 to February 1984.<br />

H.A. LESSIOS<br />


This less-than-one-centimeter coral recruit needs a clean surface to<br />

settle — created by herbivores such as sea urchins.<br />

Comparing <strong>the</strong> 1983–84 and <strong>2022</strong> mass mortality<br />

events we can see differences in where each began<br />

(Panama versus U.S. Virgin <strong>Islands</strong>) as well as in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

primary dispersal mechanisms. The 1980s event spread<br />

from Panama by surface currents eventually to virtually<br />

everywhere to its north and east in <strong>the</strong> Greater Caribbean<br />

while <strong>the</strong> <strong>2022</strong> event has greater evidence <strong>of</strong> possible<br />

anthropogenic dispersal, given <strong>the</strong> scattered new geographic<br />

locations that popped up during this past spring.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r difference is that only Diadema were affected<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 47

green pages newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> department <strong>of</strong> environment & coastal resources<br />

AGRRA<br />

This Diadema Response Network map is an up-to-date report <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

state <strong>of</strong> health <strong>of</strong> Diadema populations across <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.<br />

in <strong>the</strong> 1980s, whereas individuals <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r urchin species<br />

have also very occasionally died this year, however, this<br />

has occurred exceedingly rarely (

faces and places<br />

To learn about <strong>the</strong> art <strong>of</strong> mosaic, <strong>the</strong> class helped to create a TCI flag in mosaic to display in <strong>the</strong>ir classroom. From left: Tyson Joseph, Makai<br />

Forbes, Zakaya Saunders, Rahjohn Coalbrooke, Mazhi Saunders, Raivon Coalbrooke, and teacher Margaret Torrance.<br />

Mosaic workshop<br />

A supplemental art class turned into a community event when students from Doris Robinson Primary School on<br />

Middle Caicos recently participated in a Mosaic Workshop at a home in Whitby, North Caicos.<br />

The students <strong>of</strong> Margaret Torrance learned about <strong>the</strong> ancient art <strong>of</strong> mosaic and got hands-on experience creating<br />

a mosaic <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI flag to display in <strong>the</strong>ir classroom. The workshop was led by Jody Rathgeb with plenty<br />

<strong>of</strong> assistance from local residents, expatriates, and visitors.<br />

Among <strong>the</strong> adult participants were Sierra Taylor <strong>of</strong><br />

Conch Bar; Patti DesLauriers and Howie Bartels <strong>of</strong> Major<br />

Hill; Dina Fernandez and Tom Rathgeb <strong>of</strong> Whitby; and<br />

Mary Funke and Sarah Blenderman, visitors from <strong>the</strong><br />

U.S. Transportation was provided by <strong>the</strong> Middle Caicos<br />

District Commissioner. a<br />

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

At left: Gluing randomly-shaped tiles is a process akin to solving a<br />

jigsaw puzzle. Above: Breaking up tile to use in <strong>the</strong> flag’s blue field<br />

was <strong>the</strong> favorite activity for most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> students.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 49


feature<br />

Opposite page: In <strong>the</strong> fall, blackpoll warblers molt into yellow-green plumage and lose <strong>the</strong>ir black cap. This year, hundreds <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong><br />

blackpoll warblers appeared across TCI in October as part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir annual migration.<br />

Above: This American white pelican photographed at <strong>the</strong> Providenciales Golf Course in January 2019 was a first-ever record for TCI.<br />


“Snowbirds” with Wings<br />

The massive migration <strong>of</strong> birds brings many through <strong>the</strong> TCI.<br />

By Simon Busuttil, RSPB Turks & Caicos Operations Manager,<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Iguana Partnership, Biosecurity Advisor<br />

In <strong>the</strong> Spring <strong>2022</strong> <strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> I wrote about some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> discoveries about birds being made and<br />

to be made in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Many were about seabirds and shorebirds using <strong>the</strong> remoter<br />

parts <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> archipelago, which required expeditions to locate.<br />

However, <strong>the</strong> joy <strong>of</strong> birdwatching is that in many cases you can stay still (figuratively and literally), and<br />

<strong>the</strong> birds will come to you. Most birds fly and many migrate. They are <strong>of</strong>ten opportunists and can learn.<br />

Those <strong>of</strong> us who put up a bird table and keep it supplied with food can see how <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> birds and<br />

species using it increases over time. And occasionally, a species that you’ve never seen before will turn<br />

up in your yard.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 51

At <strong>the</strong> peak <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> last ice age (roughly 20,000 years<br />

ago), almost all <strong>of</strong> Canada and some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn US<br />

was covered in ice and much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area south <strong>of</strong> this<br />

was similar to Arctic conditions extant today — taiga<br />

down to <strong>the</strong> Gulf <strong>of</strong> Mexico, cold steppe grassland on <strong>the</strong><br />

Great Plains. As <strong>the</strong> ice retreated, many birds began to<br />

move north each season to exploit <strong>the</strong> increasing area <strong>of</strong><br />

habitat available. This north to south movement, increasing<br />

over thousands <strong>of</strong> years as <strong>the</strong> ice retreated, likely<br />

formed <strong>the</strong> origins <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> annual avian migration pattern<br />

we see today.<br />

Migration patterns continue to change in response to<br />

environmental factors. Many swans, ducks, and geese are<br />

no longer flying as far south and west as in <strong>the</strong> past to<br />

escape cold wea<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>the</strong> east and north. The waterbodies<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y use now remain unfrozen for longer periods<br />

because <strong>of</strong> milder winters. They have no need to use up<br />

precious energy resources flying fur<strong>the</strong>r than necessary.<br />

This phenomenon has become known as “short-stopping.”<br />

We are yet to notice any short-stopping in TCI (though<br />

this is not to say it is not happening). To record such a<br />

phenomenon requires years <strong>of</strong> regular monitoring so that<br />

change can be detected. This monitoring has not happened<br />

here as it does in <strong>the</strong> more populous countries<br />

where <strong>the</strong>re are hundreds <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong> birdwatchers<br />

who want to put <strong>the</strong>ir hobby to good use. As volunteers,<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir data is collected and analysed.<br />

Around 75% <strong>of</strong> all <strong>the</strong> regular species found in North<br />

America migrate. These means that over four billion birds<br />

migrate in fall across North America. Some move only<br />

as far as <strong>the</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn states and <strong>the</strong> Gulf coast, o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

into Central America and <strong>the</strong> Caribbean, and a few much<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r down to sou<strong>the</strong>rn Argentina. Species that migrate<br />

vary from <strong>the</strong> well-known and obvious snow and Canada<br />

geese and sandhill cranes, to a host <strong>of</strong> small birds like<br />

warblers, tanagers, orioles, and sparrows — many <strong>of</strong><br />

which occur here in TCI. These are generally birds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

bush, but many are as likely to occur (and much more<br />

likely to be observed) in your garden or yard as <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

in an area <strong>of</strong> bush. They will come to you, <strong>the</strong>ir stories are<br />

fascinating, and toge<strong>the</strong>r form one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> natural world’s<br />

great events.<br />

One example: On October 21, <strong>2022</strong>, hundreds <strong>of</strong><br />

thousands <strong>of</strong> blackpoll warblers appeared across TCI.<br />

There was a steady movement east all day and birds<br />

appeared everywhere from ground level to <strong>the</strong> tops <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

tallest trees. Over <strong>the</strong> next few days, numbers grew, with<br />

birds using even a single tree in an o<strong>the</strong>rwise urban area.<br />

Many were reported dead or injured from collisions with<br />

windows, falling prey to cats, or becoming victims <strong>of</strong> traffic.<br />

By early November, numbers had fallen dramatically<br />

through mortality and presumably, <strong>the</strong> birds continuing<br />

on <strong>the</strong>ir next stage <strong>of</strong> migration.<br />


Cape May warblers spend <strong>the</strong> winter in TCI, feeding on fruit, nectar, and invertebrates. This one was photographed near Juba Sound,<br />

Providenciales in November 2021.<br />

52 www.timespub.tc

Blackpoll warblers breed in <strong>the</strong> extensive spruce<br />

forests <strong>of</strong> Alaska and Canada and migrate to spend<br />

<strong>the</strong> winter in nor<strong>the</strong>rn South America. It is thought that<br />

in autumn, <strong>the</strong> entire world population <strong>of</strong> this species<br />

passes through <strong>the</strong> Caribbean. For <strong>the</strong> Alaskan breeders<br />

this is an annual round trip <strong>of</strong> 11,000 miles. Birds<br />

leave Canada when <strong>the</strong> wind is from <strong>the</strong> northwest,<br />

heading sou<strong>the</strong>ast out into <strong>the</strong> Atlantic before picking<br />

up <strong>the</strong> easterly trade winds over <strong>the</strong> Tropics to arrive on<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir wintering grounds. It is likely that this year, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

encountered unusual wea<strong>the</strong>r that forced <strong>the</strong>m west and<br />

“grounded” <strong>the</strong>m in TCI in particularly large numbers.<br />

Warblers are <strong>the</strong> typical small birds <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> bush that<br />

“seep” and “sip” and disappear into <strong>the</strong> leaves. They<br />

always occur in larger numbers in autumn than in spring.<br />

Numbers moving across North America are about half<br />

a billion lower in spring after mortality during <strong>the</strong> winter<br />

months and from losses on migration. Also, birds<br />

migrate more quickly in spring. There is an understandable<br />

urgency to press on quickly to <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn breeding<br />

grounds and claim a mate and territory.<br />

Unlike <strong>the</strong> blackpoll warblers, most North American<br />

birds migrate through Mexico with only outlying individuals<br />

coming through <strong>the</strong> Lucayan archipelago. The peak<br />

time to look out for <strong>the</strong>se scarcer migrants — colourful<br />

orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, and warblers — is in<br />

October, but migration runs from August through to<br />

November and <strong>the</strong>n again in <strong>the</strong> spring. Most migration<br />

takes place at night. Early morning is when <strong>the</strong>se birds<br />

are most obvious — hungry after <strong>the</strong>ir night’s flight and<br />

learning about <strong>the</strong>ir new temporary environment. But<br />

<strong>the</strong>y will be active all day if you sit tight and wait. Fresh<br />

water in a garden can be a great attraction as <strong>the</strong> day<br />

wears on.<br />

Whilst many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se birds, including <strong>the</strong> blackpoll<br />

warblers, move on by late November, several species<br />

spend <strong>the</strong> winter with us, departing north in spring.<br />

Cape May warblers feed on fruit, nectar, and invertebrates<br />

during <strong>the</strong>ir winter in TCI. They can be found in<br />

both native bush and landscaped grounds. Numbers vary<br />

enormously each year as <strong>the</strong> population is controlled by<br />

<strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> spruce budworms available to feed <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

young in <strong>the</strong> forests <strong>of</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn North America. In good<br />

years <strong>the</strong> population booms. (This winter <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> is a<br />

poor one compared to last year.)<br />

Alongside Cape May warblers <strong>the</strong>re are delicate grey<br />

and yellow parula warblers, and both black-throated blue<br />

warblers and yellow-throated warblers whose names<br />

describe <strong>the</strong>m perfectly. The former two are more<br />

There are many inconspicuous birds that have only been recorded a<br />

few times in TCI but are likely more common.<br />

From top: Rose-breasted grosbeak photographed along <strong>the</strong> road to<br />

North West Point, Providenciales in November <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Eastern wood pewee photographed near Juba Sound, Providenciales<br />

in November 2021.<br />

Tennessee warbler photographed near Juba Sound, Providenciales in<br />

October 2021.<br />



<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 53



From top: One <strong>of</strong> over 40 Pectoral sandpipers that spent several<br />

weeks at <strong>the</strong> TCI Football Association’s soccer fields after Hurricane<br />

Fiona in October <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

This Forster’s tern was documented in December 2016 at Blue Hills<br />

pier. It is a tricky species to identify and rarely recorded in TCI.<br />

This real-time migration monitoring program is publicly accessible.<br />

common in native scrub but <strong>the</strong> yellow-throated has a<br />

penchant for tall palm trees planted around resorts and<br />

grounds. All can be seen relatively easily around resorts<br />

and residential areas, especially those adjacent to remaining<br />

areas <strong>of</strong> native bush.<br />

There are many o<strong>the</strong>r inconspicuous birds that have<br />

only been recorded a few times but are likely much<br />

commoner than <strong>the</strong> number <strong>of</strong> records so far suggests.<br />

Examples include: Rose-breasted grosbeaks travelling<br />

to winter on <strong>the</strong> steep slopes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn Andes;<br />

eastern wood pewees en route to <strong>the</strong> upper reaches <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Amazon basin; and delicate Tennessee warblers that<br />

share a similar boom and bust population cycle as <strong>the</strong><br />

Cape May warbler. They are rarely recorded in TCI, taking<br />

a much more westerly migration route.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> exciting things about migratory birds is<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y can appear anywhere. There was an eastern<br />

wood pewee in buttonwoods by <strong>the</strong> side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road as<br />

I took my kids to school one morning in November. The<br />

TCI Football Association’s soccer fields at <strong>the</strong> Graceway<br />

Sports Centre on Providenciales proved a mecca for<br />

migrating birds after Hurricane Fiona this year. There are<br />

few areas <strong>of</strong> freshwater marsh on TCI and after heavy<br />

rain, <strong>the</strong> pitch was sodden and mimicking <strong>the</strong> freshwater<br />

marshes needed by some species <strong>of</strong> wading bird. Over 40<br />

pectoral sandpipers spent several weeks using <strong>the</strong> field<br />

regularly, probing in <strong>the</strong> newly s<strong>of</strong>t earth for invertebrates<br />

to fuel <strong>the</strong>ir incredible journey. We know that <strong>the</strong>se small<br />

wading birds were on <strong>the</strong>ir way to <strong>the</strong> pampas grasslands<br />

<strong>of</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn Argentina. For <strong>the</strong> individuals breeding in <strong>the</strong><br />

fur<strong>the</strong>st north, this is an incredible annual round trip <strong>of</strong><br />

over 18,000 miles.<br />

Away from <strong>the</strong> bush, any walk<br />

or visit has <strong>the</strong> potential to make<br />

a bird discovery. The North West<br />

Point area and <strong>the</strong> National Trust’s<br />

Heritage Trail at Bird Rock Point at<br />

opposite ends <strong>of</strong> Providenciales are<br />

good places to see migrating birds.<br />

Wheeland ponds and <strong>the</strong> Blue Hills<br />

pier are easily accessible sites where<br />

you do not even have to leave <strong>the</strong> car<br />

to observe <strong>the</strong> birds. This can make<br />

taking photographs relatively easy, as<br />

birds are not as spooked by cars as<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are by people. Being close to <strong>the</strong><br />

sea, both areas attract seabirds, especially after storms.<br />

Photographs can be great sources <strong>of</strong> information<br />

about rare birds. Terns are generally white with a dark<br />

54 www.timespub.tc

cap and apart from size are very similar looking, <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

occurring in mixed flocks <strong>of</strong> different species. Several<br />

types <strong>of</strong> tern are in TCI between March and September<br />

and <strong>the</strong> largest, <strong>the</strong> royal tern with its huge orange bill,<br />

spends all year with us. O<strong>the</strong>r species occur during migration<br />

or winter. Looking through bird photos with a friend<br />

recently, we found that he had photographed a Forster’s<br />

tern at Blue Hills pier back in 2016. A tricky species to<br />

identify, it had only been recorded a few times in TCI and<br />

never previously been fully documented.<br />

An encounter with ano<strong>the</strong>r keen photographer <strong>of</strong><br />

birds led to her sending me a series <strong>of</strong> photographs taken<br />

during COVID lockdown walks. Scrolling through images<br />

<strong>of</strong> “Herons, Egrets, and Flamingos,” I saw a couple called<br />

“Pelicans.” Opening <strong>the</strong> files expecting to see our resident<br />

brown pelican, I was delighted to find photographic<br />

evidence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> first-ever record <strong>of</strong> an American white<br />

pelican in TCI taken at Provo Golf Course in January 2019.<br />

The migration <strong>of</strong> four billion birds into and out <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> North American continent is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earth’s great<br />

natural rhythms. We see fragments <strong>of</strong> it here in TCI — a<br />

small warbler resident in <strong>the</strong> trees around our yard for<br />

a couple <strong>of</strong> days, a party <strong>of</strong> blue-winged teals on a pool<br />

that were not <strong>the</strong>re <strong>the</strong> day before. To get a broader view,<br />

North America now has a sophisticated real-time monitoring<br />

program that is publicly accessible (https://birdcast.<br />

info/about/). Networks <strong>of</strong> radar combined with data and<br />

algorithms create real-time forecasts and detailed maps<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> numbers <strong>of</strong> birds migrating on any particular night<br />

during <strong>the</strong> migration season for <strong>the</strong> contiguous American<br />

states. It does not cover <strong>the</strong> Caribbean but gives some<br />

idea <strong>of</strong> what might be coming our way on any night and<br />

thus what might be waiting to be found when we go birdwatching<br />

<strong>the</strong> following day.<br />

The scale <strong>of</strong> bird migration is astonishing. That such<br />

an annual event takes place all around us — almost without<br />

us knowing — is equally amazing. Observing it and<br />

having even <strong>the</strong> slightest understanding <strong>of</strong> what is taking<br />

place can create a strong sense <strong>of</strong> seasonality and a spiritual<br />

link to <strong>the</strong> natural world. Increasingly we know that<br />

<strong>the</strong>se are important factors in robust mental health. a<br />

Simon Busuttil now lives and works in TCI. He has been<br />

birdwatching for 40 years and led birdwatching tours<br />

across <strong>the</strong> world. He would be delighted to advise on<br />

birds and birdwatching in TCI and look at any bird photographs.<br />

He is currently writing a book on TCI’s birds<br />

and would welcome any records that people have. He can<br />

be contacted on simonb.tcint@gmail.com.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 55


feature<br />


Opposite page: Providenciales’ only 18-hole golf course was designed to complement <strong>the</strong> natural layout <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land, <strong>of</strong>fering sweeping views.<br />

Above: The stately clubhouse, designed by local architect Simon Wood, is <strong>the</strong> center <strong>of</strong> activity. In late 2021, Provo Golf Club was renamed<br />

“Royal Turks & Caicos Golf Club,” to celebrate a fresh identity and vision for <strong>the</strong> future, yet honor its long history and heritage in TCI.<br />

Standing <strong>the</strong> Test <strong>of</strong> Time<br />

Provo Golf Course celebrates 30 years.<br />

By Kathy Borsuk<br />

It’s hard to believe that <strong>the</strong> Provo Golf Club (now known as <strong>the</strong> Royal Turks & Caicos Golf Club) turned<br />

30 years old in November, <strong>2022</strong>. When I arrived in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, <strong>the</strong> course had just opened. I remember<br />

marveling at <strong>the</strong> miracle <strong>of</strong> turning a huge plot <strong>of</strong> bush-topped rocky limestone into a contoured, manicured,<br />

verdant playground for golfers.<br />

The TCI’s sole 18-hole golf course has only grown lusher and more beautiful with age, as its tropical<br />

foliage grows and matures under <strong>the</strong> course superintendent’s watchful eye. And as Providenciales hustles<br />

and bustles with development, <strong>the</strong> golf club has turned into a rare, peaceful oasis for wildlife and humans<br />

alike.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 57

History<br />

In 1989, <strong>the</strong> Provo Golf and Country Club was a dream<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> HAB Group, who coincidently owns and operates<br />

Provo Water Company, <strong>the</strong> supplier <strong>of</strong> potable water to<br />

Providenciales. They realized <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> a worldclass<br />

golf course to <strong>the</strong> fledgling tourism economy and<br />

realized it would only be possible with <strong>the</strong> availability <strong>of</strong><br />

a huge volume <strong>of</strong> water in <strong>the</strong> TCI’s semi-arid climate.<br />

By 1990, renowned golf course architect Karl Litten<br />

was chosen as to design <strong>the</strong> course, while talented resident<br />

architect Simon Wood (SWA Associates) designed <strong>the</strong><br />

stately clubhouse. Ground broke on <strong>the</strong> massive project<br />

on May 1, 1991 and a little more than a year later, <strong>the</strong><br />

first golfer teed up. Peter Boyce was employed as <strong>the</strong> first<br />

director <strong>of</strong> golf, with Dave Douglas as his part time assistant<br />

in <strong>the</strong> winter months. (Dave is now starting his 27th<br />

years as director <strong>of</strong> golf!)<br />

The course opened as a 6,529 yard, Par 72 challenge,<br />

described in early press releases as “a true test <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

game to everyone. Tight fairways . . . Unrelenting water<br />

hazards and bunkers puts <strong>the</strong> player to <strong>the</strong> test <strong>of</strong> striking<br />

accurate shots with large sandy waste areas bordering a<br />

number <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> fairways also creating target golf. Already<br />

receiving great reviews, it’s <strong>the</strong> type <strong>of</strong> course that makes<br />

you want to come back to play it again! It truly is a golf<br />

course you will never forget!” How true 30 years later!<br />

Interestingly, for much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> golf club’s history, HAB<br />

Group has underwritten <strong>the</strong> cost <strong>of</strong> operations. It has only<br />

been in recent years that <strong>the</strong> club achieved <strong>the</strong> critical<br />

mass <strong>of</strong> golfers required to become self-sustaining, a<br />

reflection <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI’s steady growth in tourism.<br />

The careful and consistent cultivation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> course<br />

along with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction<br />

has led to many awards over <strong>the</strong> years, beginning with a<br />

four-star rating from Golf Digest in 2010 and naming as<br />

a Top 10 Course for Caribbean Golf by Travel and Leisure<br />

magazine in 2014. It consistently receives TripAdvisor<br />

Certificates <strong>of</strong> Excellence and was recently voted as <strong>the</strong><br />

#3 Best Caribbean Golf Club by USA Today’s 10 Best.<br />

In 2015, David Feherty, charismatic golf course commentator<br />

for <strong>the</strong> Golf Channel and NBC, became <strong>the</strong><br />

courses’ ambassador. O<strong>the</strong>r famous names walking <strong>the</strong><br />

fairways over <strong>the</strong> years include Bill Gates, Gary Woodland,<br />

Richard Gere, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Stephon<br />

Curry, Charlize Theron, Bruce Willis, and Drake.<br />

The course was chosen to host <strong>the</strong> Caribbean Amateur<br />

Golf Open in 1999, 2009, and <strong>2022</strong>, welcoming <strong>the</strong> stars<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> future from across <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.<br />

Exceeding expectations<br />

From <strong>the</strong> beginning, <strong>the</strong> golf course strived to exceed<br />

expectations <strong>of</strong> its frequent return visitors and loyal<br />


In 2017/18, $2.5 million was spent on re-turfing <strong>the</strong> entire course with Platinum Paspalum grass, <strong>the</strong> new industry standard.<br />

58 www.timespub.tc

members. At <strong>the</strong> same time, <strong>the</strong> atmosphere was meant<br />

to be relaxed and informal — not stuffy — in keeping<br />

with a Caribbean “vibe.” Reviews are consistently excellent,<br />

with newcomers <strong>of</strong>ten surprised at <strong>the</strong> quality <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> greens and service by <strong>the</strong> conscientious staff. Today,<br />

it is on <strong>the</strong> bucket list <strong>of</strong> any visiting golfer, whe<strong>the</strong>r pro<br />

or amateur.<br />

Director <strong>of</strong> Golf Dave Douglas and Head Pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

Sean Wilson bring years <strong>of</strong> prime experience to <strong>the</strong>ir positions,<br />

yet both enjoy a more rare trait — good humor and<br />

optimism that transcend <strong>the</strong> hiccups <strong>of</strong> running a golf<br />

course on an small island.<br />

Course Superintendent Tim Mack also brought a strong<br />

background in course construction, renovation, and technology<br />

to his job in 2010 and has been a part <strong>of</strong> many<br />

exciting changes. The most rewarding, he says, being <strong>the</strong><br />

turf renovation <strong>of</strong> 2017/18, where $2.5 million was spent<br />

on re-turfing <strong>the</strong> entire course with Platinum Paspalum<br />

grass, <strong>the</strong> new industry standard. This salt-tolerant turf<br />

not only provides a fabulous dark-green playing surface,<br />

but allows <strong>the</strong> club to use less reverse osmosis-generated<br />

water. In fact, <strong>the</strong> <strong>2022</strong> World Cup in Qatar was played on<br />

<strong>the</strong> same grass, as will be <strong>the</strong> Ryder Cup in Italy in 20<strong>23</strong>.<br />

The Miami Dolphins have put it in <strong>the</strong>ir stadium along<br />

with three Major League baseball teams and many quality<br />

courses near <strong>the</strong> equator where salt is a factor.<br />

From its inception, <strong>the</strong> course was intended to complement<br />

<strong>the</strong> natural layout <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> land, with fairways lined<br />

with a mix <strong>of</strong> native vegetation and palms and <strong>of</strong>fering<br />

sweeping views. The front nine features water on five<br />

holes, with <strong>the</strong> back nine <strong>of</strong>fering six lakes — combining<br />

for hazardous encounters on 13 holes. From <strong>the</strong> black<br />

tees, <strong>the</strong> championship layout <strong>of</strong> 6,719 yards is sloped at<br />

133. The most challenging hole is <strong>the</strong> 14th, a Par 4 with<br />

gorgeous views, needing two separate long carries over<br />

water playing dead into <strong>the</strong> wind. The slight dogleg right<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten leaves you with a sidehill lie on <strong>the</strong> fairway.<br />

A new name<br />

In late 2021, Provo Golf Club was renamed “Royal Turks<br />

& Caicos Golf Club.” The rebranding celebrates a fresh<br />

identity and vision for <strong>the</strong> future, yet honors its long history<br />

and heritage in TCI. A new logo pays homage to <strong>the</strong><br />

Brown Pelican, TCI’s national bird, representing <strong>the</strong> club’s<br />

commitment to a sustainable, “green” future. The new<br />

tagline, “An Exceptional Caribbean Golf Experience,” illustrates<br />

<strong>the</strong> array <strong>of</strong> opportunities enjoyed by visitors when<br />

<strong>the</strong>y visit <strong>the</strong> course.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 59


This bird’s eye view <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> golf course at sunset shows why it is an oasis for wildlife and humans.


Above: Provo Golf Course was chosen to host <strong>the</strong> Caribbean Amateur Golf Open in 1999, 2009, and <strong>2022</strong>, welcoming <strong>the</strong> stars <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> future<br />

from across <strong>the</strong> Caribbean.<br />

Below: The pink flamingo is but one <strong>of</strong> many birds that take advantage <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> golf course’s eco-system.<br />


Noted for a challenging round <strong>of</strong> golf and a quick pace<br />

<strong>of</strong> play (four hours or less), <strong>the</strong> course <strong>of</strong>fers four sets <strong>of</strong><br />

tees for all golfing abilities and premium Titleist rental<br />

clubs. Facilities include a full-service pro shop (recently<br />

refurbished), practice warm-up area, chipping and putting<br />

greens, bag storage, flood-lit tennis courts, and two<br />

pickleball courts. The club’s fleet <strong>of</strong> EZ-GO electric carts<br />

are equipped with GPS and electronic scorecards. PGA<br />

golf pros are on hand for advice and lessons, multi-round<br />

playing passes are available, and juniors are encouraged<br />

to play with parents after 10:30 AM at no fee.<br />

The #19 Bar and Restaurant (open to <strong>the</strong> public) is a<br />

popular place for tourists and members to mix and mingle.<br />

(The burgers and conch fritters are famous!) Guests<br />

can dine on <strong>the</strong> shaded outdoor deck or <strong>the</strong> rotunda interior,<br />

with golf flags from clubs around <strong>the</strong> globe hanging<br />

from <strong>the</strong> ceiling.<br />

Going green<br />

HAB Group is committed to being a leader in environmental<br />

performance and reducing its “footprint,” with a<br />

strong obligation to ensuring that <strong>the</strong> ecosystems <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

“Beautiful by Nature” Turks & Caicos remain healthy and<br />

62 www.timespub.tc

intact. As custodians <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> largest sporting facility in<br />

<strong>the</strong> TCI (650 acres), <strong>the</strong> Royal Turks & Caicos Golf Club<br />

(RTCGC) strives to operate in <strong>the</strong> most sustainable way<br />

possible.<br />

Besides replacing <strong>the</strong> turf with a less water-hungry<br />

strain, water stations are located throughout <strong>the</strong> course<br />

where golfers can fill up <strong>the</strong>ir water bottles or branded<br />

reusable bottles from <strong>the</strong> pro shop, reducing <strong>the</strong> burden<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ubiquitous plastic water bottles on <strong>the</strong> local landfill.<br />

RTCGC is working towards GEO Certification for sustainable<br />

golf. This widely regarded international ecolabel<br />

is designed to help golf courses be recognized for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

environmental and social responsibility. Steps taken<br />

will involve protecting <strong>the</strong> current ecosystem (11 lakes,<br />

140 acres <strong>of</strong> fairways and greens) that are home to <strong>the</strong><br />

American kestral, white heron, kingfisher, pink flamingo,<br />

and green turtle, as well as a variety <strong>of</strong> cacti, <strong>the</strong> flame<br />

tree, and sea dunes.<br />

It will also involve working to reduce carbon emissions<br />

by installing solar panels than can power <strong>the</strong> golf course<br />

property and beyond. Along with eliminating single-use<br />

plastic and adding recycle/reuse containers across <strong>the</strong><br />

grounds, <strong>the</strong> club will invest in education <strong>of</strong> employees<br />

and visitors in more sustainable habits.<br />

Giving back<br />

Besides taking responsibility for <strong>the</strong> club’s operating<br />

costs to buttress <strong>the</strong> tourism product, HAB Group has<br />

a long history <strong>of</strong> giving back to <strong>the</strong> community, with<br />

more donations than any o<strong>the</strong>r single entity in <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. Since 1996, <strong>the</strong> club has helped raise<br />

over $2 million for local charities through tournaments<br />

such as <strong>the</strong>: Jadot Cup, Wine Cellar Cup, Bob Graham<br />

TCIGA Scramble, Bordier Bank Youth Soccer Scramble,<br />

National Cancer Society Scramble and <strong>the</strong> Corporate<br />

Charity Challenge.<br />

Funds raised help support <strong>the</strong> Edward C. Gartland<br />

Youth Center, National AIDs Awareness Foundation, Food<br />

4 Thought children’s breakfast program, TCI Community<br />

College, TCI Senior Citizens’ Home and <strong>the</strong> TCI Children’s<br />

Home, among o<strong>the</strong>r worthy causes. The generosity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

club’s 110 members and visiting golfers reflects <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

benevolence and satisfaction with <strong>the</strong> overall golf course<br />

experience.<br />

The club’s love <strong>of</strong> local sports is reflected in sponsorship<br />

<strong>of</strong> children’s soccer programs, ladies’ s<strong>of</strong>tball,<br />

<strong>the</strong> junior golf program, and a $50,000 donation to <strong>the</strong><br />

TCI Sports Federation for athletes to compete in <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 63



Above: The beautiful flame tree, also known as royal poinciana, graces<br />

<strong>the</strong> fairways at Provo Golf Course. As custodians <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> largest sporting<br />

facility in TCI (650 acres), <strong>the</strong> club strives to operate in <strong>the</strong> most<br />

sustainable way possible.<br />

Below: “Going green” includes installing solar panels than can power<br />

<strong>the</strong> golf course property and beyond.<br />

Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK. HAB group<br />

has provided $50,000 annually since 1996 via <strong>the</strong> TCIG<br />

sponsorship fund. In 20<strong>23</strong>, RTCGC will donate .5% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

green fee to a new Community Fund.<br />

To encourage <strong>the</strong> Tiger Woods <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> future, RTCGC<br />

is developing a young golfer’s program to introduce<br />

children to golf in a fun and safe environment using a<br />

games-based learning technique. This will supplement<br />

current youth coaching and kid’s camps during school<br />

vacations.<br />

RTCGC is also home to <strong>the</strong> TCI Tennis Academy and<br />

a school program sanctioned by <strong>the</strong> International Tennis<br />

Federation, run by Tennis Pro Rey Garcia. It uses modified<br />

courts, racquets, and balls and a “learning through play”<br />

philosophy to make <strong>the</strong> experience fun and exciting.<br />

The club will continue to support <strong>the</strong> local economy<br />

not only with its ever-growing reputation attracting golfers<br />

from around <strong>the</strong> world, but also with ongoing disaster<br />

relief, event sponsorship, and working with <strong>the</strong> TCI Hotel<br />

& Tourism Association to encourage local youth in <strong>the</strong><br />

hospitality industry.<br />

Life on <strong>the</strong> golf course<br />

I envy <strong>the</strong> wise investors who have made <strong>the</strong> 200-acre<br />

golf course residential community <strong>the</strong>ir home. Not only<br />

are <strong>the</strong> homes, villas, and townhomes well-spaced in<br />

manicured surroundings, but <strong>the</strong> atmosphere is family-oriented,<br />

quiet, and steeped in nature. Best <strong>of</strong> all,<br />

development is planned, so property owners know what<br />

to expect in <strong>the</strong> future — no one can block <strong>the</strong>ir view or<br />

crowd <strong>the</strong>ir privacy!<br />

Existing single-family homes do come on <strong>the</strong> market<br />

from time to time. There are six developments <strong>of</strong> townhomes<br />

and club villas bordering <strong>the</strong> 1st, 10th, and 18th<br />

fairways which <strong>of</strong>fer affordable living enhanced by proximity<br />

to <strong>the</strong> beach, schools, shopping, restaurants and<br />

<strong>the</strong> attractions <strong>of</strong> Grace Bay — besides immediate access<br />

to <strong>the</strong> golf course and tennis courts. These two and<br />

three-bedroom units are popular among full and parttime<br />

residents and various units do become available for<br />

rental or resale.<br />

The Royal Turks & Caicos Golf Club has stood <strong>the</strong><br />

test <strong>of</strong> time by virtue <strong>of</strong> its excellence, generosity, and<br />

accountability to <strong>the</strong> environment, country, and local<br />

community. Although it is no longer a secret, it is more<br />

than worthy <strong>of</strong> discovering and enjoying. a<br />

For more information and to book a tee time, visit<br />

royalturksandcaicosgolf.com.<br />

64 www.timespub.tc


feature<br />

Opposite page: East Caicos is <strong>the</strong> largest uninhabited island in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos and is valued as a sanctuary for flora and fauna, particularly<br />

endemic Turks & Caicos plants and birds.<br />

Above: Sea turtles are one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oldest creatures on Earth and have been here for over 110 million years. As long as we do <strong>the</strong> work needed<br />

to take care <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m and <strong>the</strong>ir environment, <strong>the</strong>se turtles will have a fighting chance.<br />


Exploring East Caicos<br />

The turtle story.<br />

By Oshin Whyte, Environmental Scientist, and Amadyne Agenor ~ Photos By Oshin Whyte<br />

East Caicos: it is one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands that most Turks & Caicos Islanders can point out on a map but have<br />

never travelled to or experienced — at least persons belonging to my generation. Those <strong>of</strong> us who are<br />

fortunate enough to have “old folks” in our lives occasionally hear stories about <strong>the</strong> “olden days” <strong>of</strong> South<br />

Caicos fishermen travelling to East Caicos for wild cow hunting. It was a time before commercialization,<br />

widespread refrigeration, and most importantly, supermarkets like IGA.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 67

These cows were remnants <strong>of</strong> a settlement created<br />

in <strong>the</strong> 1800s known as Jacksonville. The settlement had<br />

cattle ranches and sisal plantations, which were relatively<br />

successful. Unfortunately, Jacksonville was eventually<br />

abandoned but <strong>the</strong> cows remained and roamed free.<br />

Throughout <strong>the</strong> 1970s and late 1980s, brave men would<br />

journey to East Caicos, and using traditional knowledge<br />

and know-how, stalk a cow and butcher it. They would<br />

proceed to quarter <strong>the</strong> animal, <strong>the</strong>n make <strong>the</strong> journey<br />

back to South. This endeavor was laborious and sometimes<br />

took two days to complete.<br />

Alas, a steak dinner is not <strong>the</strong> reason that I, Ms.<br />

Amadyne Agenor, and Mr. Timothy Hamilton — affectionately<br />

known as Cap’n Tim — journeyed to East Caicos.<br />

We were on <strong>the</strong> prowl for . . . SEA TURTLES. The coastline<br />

<strong>of</strong> East Caicos is a nationally important nesting habitat<br />

for threatened green and hawksbill turtles. These beautiful<br />

creatures can migrate thousands <strong>of</strong> miles across our<br />

oceans and find <strong>the</strong>ir way back to where <strong>the</strong>y <strong>the</strong>mselves<br />

hatched decades ago to breed.<br />

Oshin Whyte (left) and Amadyne Agenor (right) set <strong>of</strong>f to explore sea<br />

turtle nesting sites on <strong>the</strong> north coast <strong>of</strong> East Caicos.<br />

For generations, fisherfolk across <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> have<br />

caught and eaten sea turtles, as a local delicacy. However,<br />

<strong>the</strong> occasional capture <strong>of</strong> adult turtles was impeding <strong>the</strong><br />

recovery <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>’ genetically distinct but severely<br />

depleted breeding populations. Enter <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> Turtle Project (TCITP). Established in 2008, it is<br />

a collaborative initiative led by <strong>the</strong> Marine Conservation<br />

Society (based in <strong>the</strong> UK) and <strong>the</strong> TCI Government. It<br />

strives to enhance <strong>the</strong> management <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>’ traditional<br />

marine turtle fishery while respecting <strong>the</strong> rights <strong>of</strong><br />

Islanders to responsibly harvest this resource. The TCITP<br />

helped change <strong>the</strong> turtle fishery regulations in 2014 and<br />

has conducted extensive turtle satellite tracking research<br />

here. It now is partner to a new Darwin Plus-funded project<br />

led by <strong>the</strong> Royal Society for <strong>the</strong> Protection <strong>of</strong> Birds<br />

(RSPB) and <strong>the</strong> TCI National Trust to develop a local community-driven<br />

and locally owned action plan to guide<br />

future management and sustainable development <strong>of</strong> East<br />

Caicos. An aspect <strong>of</strong> this new project is to assess sea turtle<br />

nesting habitat and feeding grounds on and around<br />

East Caicos.<br />

To achieve this objective, we embarked on an epic<br />

journey to record some <strong>of</strong> this season’s turtle nesting<br />

on <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn shores. There was much apprehension<br />

and excitement, as this was Amadyne’s first time visiting<br />

East Caicos and my first time camping on <strong>the</strong> island for<br />

an extended period. Cap’n Tim is an expert naturalist<br />

and knows <strong>the</strong> island like <strong>the</strong> back <strong>of</strong> his hand, which<br />

put our minds at ease. We set out early, as <strong>the</strong> plan was<br />

to walk <strong>the</strong> entire nor<strong>the</strong>rn coast <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> island — Breezy<br />

Point to Lorimers — a total <strong>of</strong> five miles and record any<br />

evidence <strong>of</strong> nesting turtles, including tracks, nesting pits<br />

and emerged nests.<br />

The boat ride from South Caicos to East Caicos had<br />

some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most breath-taking scenery. The shimmer<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sun’s reflection on <strong>the</strong> emerald water, <strong>the</strong> basking<br />

nurse shark on <strong>the</strong> banks, <strong>the</strong> crisp air. It felt surreal and<br />

for a moment, like Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1877, we<br />

too acknowledge <strong>the</strong> grandeur <strong>of</strong> God.<br />

This state <strong>of</strong> mind was shattered when we got to<br />

Breezy Point, East Caicos and started our exploration <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> beach. We had experienced a Category 3 hurricane in<br />

September, and even though a full lunar cycle had lapsed<br />

since <strong>the</strong> hurricane and <strong>the</strong> sampling period, <strong>the</strong> coastline<br />

had significant damage and severe erosion. This was<br />

<strong>the</strong> narrative from Breezy Point to Lorimers. The erosion<br />

was so significant that in many places a ridge <strong>of</strong> sand was<br />

created that measured as much as three to four feet in<br />

some areas. It was as if someone (i.e., Hurricane Fiona)<br />

68 www.timespub.tc

Clockwise from top left: Captain Tim Hamilton teaches Amadyne to<br />

fish. Hurricane Fiona caused significant erosion to <strong>the</strong> East Caicos<br />

coastline. Amadyne records GPS waypoints and beach characteristics.<br />

This baby sea turtle was discovered in a survey on East Caicos in<br />

2021. Amadyne caught her first-ever fish on <strong>the</strong> way to East Caicos.<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 69

had taken an ice cream scoop and ran it along <strong>the</strong> coastline,<br />

scooping out all <strong>the</strong> sand.<br />

So what does this mean for sea turtle nesting? Sadly, we<br />

think <strong>the</strong> erosion made it difficult for sea turtles to crawl<br />

up <strong>the</strong> beach and deposit <strong>the</strong>ir eggs. Sea turtle eggs need<br />

sand around <strong>the</strong>m to incubate, and exposed eggs will die<br />

if inundated by waves. If <strong>the</strong>re were any eggs deposited,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were long gone, washed away by <strong>the</strong> strong waves<br />

that Hurricane Fiona created. Five miles walked, and no<br />

nests or signs <strong>of</strong> turtles. This is a stark contrast to last<br />

year’s nesting survey <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> area, where significant nesting<br />

activity was documented on <strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>rn East Caicos<br />

shore for <strong>the</strong> first time by <strong>the</strong> TCI Turtle Project.<br />

Habitat destruction is always a risk, as hurricane season<br />

and sea turtle nesting season overlap. However, due<br />

to climate change, hurricane frequency and intensity are<br />

increasing. Seeing <strong>the</strong> damage that Hurricane Fiona had<br />

done to East Caicos’ coastline signals <strong>the</strong> urgency in<br />

implementing solutions to our climate crisis.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> meantime, nature has proven to us time and<br />

time again that if we give it a chance, it will recover. Even<br />

in its fragile state, East Caicos was incredibly beautiful,<br />

and <strong>the</strong>re was much hope as donkeys, piping plovers,<br />

brown pelicans, Cuban crows, and curly tail lizards had<br />

returned to <strong>the</strong> coastline. Amadyne put it this way, “The<br />

island is extraordinarily beautiful and unique. I want to<br />

explore more <strong>of</strong> its beauty. I feel incredibly proud <strong>of</strong><br />

myself for making this journey and catching my first fish!”<br />

Sea turtles are one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oldest creatures on Earth,<br />

having been here for over 110 million years. As long as<br />

we do <strong>the</strong> work needed to take care <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

environment <strong>the</strong>se turtles will have a fighting chance. We<br />

hope this article piques <strong>the</strong> interest <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r young Turks<br />

& Caicos Islanders, to know that being an Environmental<br />

Scientist is a worthwhile endeavor. It is our duty to be<br />

stewards <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se “Beautiful by Nature” <strong>Islands</strong>. a<br />

Oshin Whyte is from Providenciales and earned a BSc in<br />

Environmental Sciences in Oxford, England. Her prior<br />

work as a PADI Divemaster provided her with <strong>the</strong> opportunity<br />

to become an advocate for <strong>the</strong> marine environment.<br />

Most recently Oshin read a South Atlantic Environmental<br />

Research Institute (SAERI) funded Masters by Research on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Coastal Cultural Values (CCV) <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> at <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Kent. She is well versed in<br />

environmental sustainability, impact assessments, and<br />

marine conservation. It is her dream to have a coalition <strong>of</strong><br />

Islander Environmental Scientists who are wholeheartedly<br />

dedicated to keeping TCI beautiful by nature.<br />

70 www.timespub.tc

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 786 220 1159 • email info@tcmuseum.org • web www.tcmuseum.org<br />

This postcard (circa 1906) was commercially produced to sell to <strong>the</strong> public. It appears in <strong>the</strong> picture that <strong>the</strong> Friths are hosting an “At Home,”<br />

as it was called in <strong>the</strong> day—a ga<strong>the</strong>ring that included friends, relatives, and dignitaries.<br />

The Name Behind a Name<br />

The Frith family <strong>of</strong> Palm Grove, Grand Turk.<br />

Story and Illustrations By Jeff Dodge<br />

Today, <strong>the</strong> name Palm Grove designates a neighborhood on Grand Turk that’s just south <strong>of</strong> Cockburn<br />

Town. How many residents <strong>of</strong> this neighborhood know where <strong>the</strong> name Palm Grove originated or <strong>the</strong><br />

history behind <strong>the</strong> name?<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 71

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Palm Grove was <strong>the</strong><br />

name that <strong>the</strong> Benjamin<br />

Charles Frith family gave<br />

to <strong>the</strong>ir stately home on<br />

Grand Turk just south<br />

<strong>of</strong> Cockburn Town. It<br />

was probably built in <strong>the</strong><br />

fourth quarter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 19th<br />

century, but exactly when<br />

B.C., as he was called,<br />

built Palm Grove, seems<br />

to be a mystery.<br />

B.C. Frith was born<br />

in 1855 on Grand Turk<br />

to Daniel Nichols Frith<br />

and Jane Frith Butterfield.<br />

Benjamin and his bro<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

formed Frith Bro<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

& Company, which at one<br />

time was <strong>the</strong> largest producer<br />

<strong>of</strong> salt on Grand<br />

Turk. In addition to salt<br />

This privately produced postcard <strong>of</strong> Palm Grove circa 1906 was made from a personal photograph that<br />

would have been used by <strong>the</strong> Frith family. It shows <strong>the</strong> back <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> house.<br />

This photo illustrates Benjamin C. Frith, entrepreneur <strong>of</strong> Frith Bro<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

& Company, a thriving business in Grand Turk in <strong>the</strong> late 1800s.<br />

production, Frith Bros. & Co. were involved in growing<br />

and processing sisal on West Caicos, mining guano on<br />

Middle Caicos, and operating retail businesses selling all<br />

manner <strong>of</strong> goods on Grand Turk.<br />

B.C. inherited a coconut palm plantation from his<br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r on <strong>the</strong> north end <strong>of</strong> Grand Turk—northwest <strong>of</strong><br />

North Creek. It’s reported that Edmund Neale Coverley, a<br />

shopkeeper and photographer on Grand Turk, managed<br />

<strong>the</strong> plantation for B.C. The postcard on <strong>the</strong> opposite page<br />

is evidence <strong>of</strong> this—it was produced by Coverley to sell in<br />

his store and depicts his son among <strong>the</strong> coconut palms.<br />

B.C., or his fa<strong>the</strong>r, built a house on this property<br />

that was known as “Little Bluff” or “The Summer House.”<br />

The house was reported to have been a two story stone<br />

structure that was used as a family get-away in <strong>the</strong><br />

summer—for <strong>the</strong> breezes and cooler temperatures.<br />

Unfortunately, <strong>the</strong> coconut palms were wiped out by a<br />

blight that swept through <strong>the</strong> Bahamas and West Indies<br />

in <strong>the</strong> early 20th century.<br />

In 1875, B.C. married Frances Elizabeth Streeter who<br />

was living in Great Britain at <strong>the</strong> time. They had 13 children<br />

on Grand Turk, however six died before <strong>the</strong>ir first<br />

birthday. Frances died in 1910.<br />

72 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

The child in this circa 1909 postcard is Edmund Neale Coverley’s son, Flavius Lytton Coverley.<br />

B.C.’s businesses <strong>of</strong>ten took him to New York and it must have been during one <strong>of</strong> his trips to <strong>the</strong> U.S. that he<br />

met Virginia Sawyer <strong>of</strong> Owensboro, Kentucky. They were married in 1916 when B.C. was 61 years old and she was<br />

48. B.C. passed away in 1933, leaving Palm Grove to his youngest living son, Ge<strong>of</strong>frey Hammond Frith. B.C.’s second<br />

wife, Virginia, continued living at Palm Grove until her death in late 1944.<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>frey was born on Grand Turk in 1891. He served in <strong>the</strong> Middle East during WW I as a captain in <strong>the</strong><br />

British Army. After <strong>the</strong> war,<br />

he was employed on Grand<br />

Turk as a civil servant until<br />

1927. His various positions<br />

included: Justice <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Peace,<br />

Acting Police Inspector,<br />

Assistant Customs Collector,<br />

Postmaster, Clerk to<br />

Commissioner and Secretary<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Board <strong>of</strong> Education.<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>frey married Thelma<br />

Izeyl Whitfield Smith in<br />

1921—her fa<strong>the</strong>r was <strong>the</strong><br />

commissioner and judge for<br />

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

from 1914 until 19<strong>23</strong>.<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>frey and Thelma lived in<br />

a house on Duke Street—now The house in <strong>the</strong> background <strong>of</strong> this circa 1906 postcard may be Frith’s summer get-away.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 73

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

This photo <strong>of</strong> Terrance and Nancy Frith was likely taken at <strong>the</strong>ir wedding<br />

in 1953 in Toronto, Canada after becoming missionaries.<br />

<strong>the</strong> Salt Raker Inn—until 1927. Ge<strong>of</strong>frey once wrote a letter<br />

to his bro<strong>the</strong>r Arthur, who was living in Vancouver at<br />

<strong>the</strong> time, saying he preferred living in his house in town<br />

to living at Palm Grove.<br />

Thelma had two miscarriages prior to her third pregnancy<br />

in 1927. For this reason, Thelma and Ge<strong>of</strong>frey<br />

decided to move from Grand Turk to Barbados hoping<br />

for better medical care. Their only son, Terrence R. Frith,<br />

was born on Barbados in February <strong>the</strong> following year.<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>frey continued working as a civil servant while<br />

on Barbados serving as postmaster. In 1929, <strong>the</strong> family<br />

was sent to <strong>the</strong> Cayman <strong>Islands</strong> where Ge<strong>of</strong>frey served as<br />

<strong>the</strong> commissioner until 1931. Next he was assigned <strong>the</strong><br />

job <strong>of</strong> treasurer on Tobago and in 1932, he was transferred<br />

to Trinidad to work as <strong>the</strong> assistant auditor. From<br />

1934 to 1939, he was <strong>the</strong> treasurer on St. Lucia—while<br />

<strong>the</strong>re he also served as acting commissioner for about a<br />

year.<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>frey was posted to <strong>the</strong> Falkland <strong>Islands</strong> in 1940.<br />

He had a stroke after six months and returned to Grand<br />

Turk to recuperate. While recuperating, he worked for<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos government. In 1942, Ge<strong>of</strong>frey and<br />

his family moved to St. Vincent where he served as that<br />

country’s treasurer.<br />

Ge<strong>of</strong>frey and family returned to Grand Turk in 1945<br />

to find that Palm Grove, <strong>the</strong> family home, was in terrible<br />

condition. It had been uninhabited for over six months<br />

following <strong>the</strong> death <strong>of</strong> Virginia Frith—B.C.’s second wife.<br />

A Frith descendant says that <strong>the</strong> caretaker had stolen<br />

most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> furnishings. Ge<strong>of</strong>frey threatened <strong>the</strong> caretaker<br />

with a lawsuit, but passed away in April 1945 before<br />

his lawsuit was adjudicated. Some thought <strong>the</strong> caretaker<br />

had poisoned him, however, descendants insist he died<br />

<strong>of</strong> an aneurysm. Ge<strong>of</strong>frey left Palm Grove to his only son<br />

Terrence.<br />

Thelma and her son Terrence moved from Grand<br />

Turk to Barbados in 1946 where she lived until her death<br />

in 1984. In 1946 or 1947, Terrence, having no interest in<br />

returning to Grand Turk, sold Palm Grove to <strong>the</strong> Cable &<br />

Wireless company.<br />

Cable & Wireless demolished <strong>the</strong> house, which was<br />

termite infested, in order to build housing for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

employees. Palm Grove was said to have been situated<br />

on 13 acres <strong>of</strong> land and was reportedly sold to Cable &<br />

Wireless for just £250—however, this figure has not been<br />

confirmed.<br />

74 www.timespub.tc

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Terrence moved to Toronto, Canada in 1947 and by<br />

1952 had joined <strong>the</strong> Anglican Church Army for evangelical<br />

training to become a missionary. The following year<br />

he married Nancy Elizabeth Dunseith <strong>of</strong> Toronto who was<br />

also training to be a missionary. By <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> 1953, <strong>the</strong><br />

church sent both Terrence and Nancy to Tuktoyaktuk, an<br />

Inuit hamlet in <strong>the</strong> Canadian North West Territories. They<br />

served in <strong>the</strong> Diocese <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Arctic for 22 years—<strong>the</strong>ir five<br />

children were born <strong>the</strong>re.<br />

In 1974, Terrence and Nancy moved to Barbados<br />

where he pastored <strong>the</strong> Pentecostal Church until he retired<br />

in 1985. Terrence and Nancy moved to Ladysmith, British<br />

Columbia, Canada in 2003. He passed away in 2009 in<br />

Ladysmith—Nancy died <strong>the</strong> following year.<br />

Palm Grove’s exact location is yet ano<strong>the</strong>r mystery.<br />

Nobody seems to know for certain where it was located.<br />

Two different possibilities are marked below with a red<br />

star. However, no evidence that ei<strong>the</strong>r location is correct<br />

has surfaced.<br />

B.C. Frith and his family were proud <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir stately<br />

home. They had at least three different postcards made<br />

from personal photographs <strong>of</strong> Palm Grove. These postcards<br />

were for family use and not sold to <strong>the</strong> public.<br />

It is a shame that <strong>the</strong>re isn’t a marker or plaque<br />

marking where this historic house was located? Perhaps<br />

readers <strong>of</strong> this article will make that happen. a<br />

The author wishes to thank Edward Grice, Benjamin C.<br />

Frith’s great-grandson, for providing much <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Frith<br />

family history for this article.<br />

Top right: This circa 1968 photo depicts Terrance and Nancy Frith and <strong>the</strong>ir five children in Canada. Above: The map shows two possible<br />

locations <strong>of</strong> B.C. Frith’s Palm Grove home. No evidence that ei<strong>the</strong>r location is correct has surfaced. Can you help?<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 75

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Museum Matters<br />

New exhibits and updates<br />

We are updating <strong>the</strong> John Glenn and Scott Carpenter<br />

exhibit with new story boards and photo boards. People<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten comment that <strong>the</strong>y did not realize that Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> played such an important role in <strong>the</strong><br />

space race <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> 1960s.<br />

We have added a Donkey and Cart exhibit to <strong>the</strong><br />

Salt Industry section. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most frequently asked<br />

questions is, “What’s up with all <strong>the</strong> donkeys?” This<br />

exhibit explains why <strong>the</strong>y are on <strong>the</strong> Salt <strong>Islands</strong> and<br />

<strong>the</strong> integral role <strong>the</strong>y played in <strong>the</strong> salt industry and in<br />

<strong>the</strong> early settlement <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Current days & hours <strong>of</strong> operation:<br />

Grand Turk (Front Street): Hours vary daily, but in general<br />

open on all cruise ship days 9 AM to 1 PM. When a<br />

ship arrives on or after 11 AM, we will open one hour<br />

after arrival for three hours.<br />


We continue to work on <strong>the</strong> People <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong><br />

exhibit. We have new banners <strong>of</strong> several <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> people<br />

interviewed. Additional story boards and banners are<br />

being added regarding <strong>the</strong> history each <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> inhabited<br />

islands.<br />

Part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> exhibits will be finished by <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong><br />

November, with <strong>the</strong> final touches being completed by<br />

end <strong>of</strong> this year. a<br />

Providenciales (The Village <strong>of</strong> Grace Bay): Open<br />

Tuesday and Thursday, 10 AM to 2 PM.<br />

Both locations include interesting exhibits and artifacts<br />

related to <strong>the</strong> history and culture <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Visit our gift shops for souvenirs, history books, and<br />

locally made products such as baskets, jewelry, salt<br />

products and more.<br />

Days and times <strong>of</strong> operation are subject to change<br />

so please check our website or email us for updated<br />

information:<br />

www.tcmuseum.org• info@tcmuseum.org<br />

Hurricane Fiona<br />

The Grand Turk museum did not suffer any damage<br />

during Hurricane Fiona. The botanical garden<br />

did lose some fencing that was quickly repaired. The<br />

Providenciales location suffered minor damage to <strong>the</strong><br />

Heritage House ro<strong>of</strong> and repairs are undergoing. a<br />

76 www.timespub.tc

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> 22-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> May 1, <strong>2022</strong>, all visitors ages 18 and above<br />

must be fully vaccinated but are no longer required to<br />

apply for travel authorization nor provide evidence <strong>of</strong> a<br />

negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival nor present evidence<br />

<strong>of</strong> travel insurance nor wear masks/face coverings.<br />

Pro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> vaccination in ei<strong>the</strong>r a digital or paper record<br />

must be presented on arrival. Visitors are fully responsible<br />

for <strong>the</strong> cost <strong>of</strong> quarantine/isolation, hospitalization,<br />

or medical repatriation in <strong>the</strong> event <strong>the</strong>y test positive<br />

during <strong>the</strong>ir stay. For more information and details, visit<br />

www.turksandcaicostourism.com.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 77

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 />

Transportation<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 />

between popular visitor areas. Scooter, motorcycle and<br />

bicycle rentals are also available.<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 />

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 />

78 www.timespub.tc

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 />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 79

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are recognised as an<br />

important <strong>of</strong>fshore financial centre, <strong>of</strong>fering services<br />

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 submitted at port <strong>of</strong> entry to obtain clearance<br />

from <strong>the</strong> TCI Department <strong>of</strong> Agriculture.<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 />

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.<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 />

80 www.timespub.tc

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 paintings, T-shirts, sports and<br />

beachwear and locally made handicrafts, including straw<br />

work, conch crafts and beach jewellery. Duty free outlets<br />

sell liquor, jewellery, watches, perfume, lea<strong>the</strong>r goods,<br />

crystal, china, cameras, electronics, brand-name clothing<br />

and accessories, along with Cuban cigars. a<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 />

Food for Thought Foundation Inc. (NP #102)<br />

subscription form<br />

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />



One year subscription<br />

$28 U.S. addresses/$32 non-U.S. addresses<br />


Name____________________________________________________________________<br />

Date ____________________<br />

Address__________________________________________________________________<br />

City _____________________________________________________________________<br />

State/Province____________________________________________________________<br />

Country/Postal Code_____________________________________________________<br />

E-mail address (not required)_____________________________________________<br />

r New Subscription r Renewal<br />

r U.S. Cheque/M.O. enclosed<br />

Mail with payment to:<br />

<strong>Times</strong> Publications Ltd., c/o Kathy Borsuk,<br />

247 Holmes Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514<br />

Please allow 30 to 60 days for delivery <strong>of</strong> first issue.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Winter</strong> <strong>2022</strong>/<strong>23</strong> 81

classified ads<br />

B R A Z I L I A N<br />

B I K I N I<br />

L A S E R<br />

H A I R<br />

R E D U C T I O N<br />

$95<br />


+1-649-432-7546<br />

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 autorental@dnbautoparts.com<br />

1 2/16/17 9:10 AM Page 1<br />

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: <strong>23</strong>1-0262 (after hours)<br />

scooterbobs@gmail.com<br />

www.scooterbobstci.com<br />

Grace Bay Road across from Regent Street<br />

Fun Friendly People<br />

Appreciating Your Business!<br />

941-8500<br />

www.gracebaycarrentals.com<br />

82 www.timespub.tc



Our executive team: (L-R) Vice President <strong>of</strong> Corporate Services and CFO Aisha Laporte; Vice President<br />

<strong>of</strong> Grand Turk and Sister Island Operations Allan Robinson; President and CEO Ruth Forbes; Senior Vice<br />

President <strong>of</strong> Operations Devon Cox; Vice President <strong>of</strong> Engineering and Energy Production and Delivery<br />

Don Forsyth (seated); and Vice President <strong>of</strong> Innovation, Technology and Strategic Planning Rachell Roullet.<br />

In a rapidly evolving electricity sector, energy leaders <strong>of</strong> today are<br />

focused on driving <strong>the</strong> transformation to cleaner, more sustainable<br />

energy sources.<br />

At FortisTCI, our purpose and passion are unwavering – to serve our<br />

customers, community, and <strong>the</strong> Turks and Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> with <strong>the</strong><br />

safe, reliable, and least-cost electricity <strong>the</strong>y need – whenever and<br />

wherever.<br />

Every day, we are working towards an energy future that is cleaner,<br />

more resilient, reliable, and sustainable.<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.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!