Times of the Islands Fall 2023

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

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


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TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS FALL <strong>2023</strong> NO. 144<br />


North Caicos museum<br />


Funding TCI sports<br />


Past and future intertwine<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 />

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Dinner 6 –10:30pm<br />

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

contents<br />

Departments<br />

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

19 The Way It Was<br />

By Plane, Boat, and Golf Cart<br />

By Diane Taylor<br />

23 Making a Difference<br />

Small Changes, Big Impact<br />

By Kelly Currington<br />

28 Creature Feature<br />

Hermit Crabs<br />

Story & Photos By Kelly Currington<br />

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

Bound by Sisal<br />

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

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

73 Subscription Form<br />

74 Classified Ads<br />

Features<br />

48 Sporting a Glimmer <strong>of</strong> Hope<br />

Athlete Development Fund<br />

By Nandina Hislop and Jarrett Forbes<br />

54 Empowering ExtraOrdinary Minds<br />

Ashley’s Learning Centre<br />

By Abigail Parnell<br />

Green Pages<br />

39 Iguana Be Left Alone<br />

By Mel DeBlasio, Libby Dube, and Anna<br />

Templeton ~ Edited by C.E. O’Brien, Ph.D.<br />

44 Microbial Mats<br />

By Rachel Craft ~ Photos By Usha Lingappa<br />

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />

SAMPLING THE SOUL OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS FALL <strong>2023</strong> NO. 144<br />


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

Marta Morton, our ace photographer for all things beautiful<br />

in nature on <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> photographed this little<br />

female Bahama woodstar hummingbird collecting nectar<br />

from Ixora flowers by <strong>the</strong> pool at Harbour Club. She says,<br />

“I can spend hours waiting for a classic shot, but for sure<br />

it is more <strong>of</strong>ten many misses before getting that one<br />

winner. Patience is <strong>the</strong> name <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> game.” View more <strong>of</strong><br />

her images at www.harbourclubvillas.com<br />

Astrolabe<br />

61 Veteran, Legend, Hero<br />

James Edward “Bobby” Fulford<br />

By Carlton and Debbie-lee Mills<br />

54<br />


4 www.timespub.tc

Crafted for<br />

<strong>the</strong> fl ow <strong>of</strong> life.<br />

Formed within<br />

<strong>the</strong> fl ow <strong>of</strong> nature.<br />

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<strong>of</strong> Turtle Tail. Focused on <strong>the</strong> horizon and soaring above <strong>the</strong> Caicos Bank, famed Turks<br />

& Caicos ocean views are captured through refi ned architectural framing. Design, drawn<br />

from nature, and crafted with clear intent for its place.<br />

Nivå will be home to only six private estates. Designed by Ström Architects, this private<br />

yet connected community comprises fi ve 4,014 sqft villas, and a singular, larger 6,579<br />

sqft showpiece.<br />

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Turtle Tail from $5.5m<br />

Register your interest today<br />

at: www.niva6.com<br />

For more information contact<br />

Windward at 649.241.9212<br />

or email: contact@windward.tc<br />

Designed by: Developed by: Real Estate Sales by:

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


Following a near-death experience, photographer Gary James plans to focus his work on capturing <strong>the</strong> beauty <strong>of</strong> God’s creation, as displayed<br />

so vividly in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, as a way <strong>of</strong> spreading <strong>the</strong> message <strong>of</strong> God’s divine love.<br />

Much Will Be Required<br />

“To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48).” I’ve been thinking about that Bible verse this week.<br />

Longtime readers will know how fortunate I feel to have been able to live and work in one <strong>of</strong> my favorite places on<br />

Earth. I’m healthy, strong, and enjoyed a golden childhood provided by my dear parents. Much has been given to<br />

me. As my parents and childless uncle aged, however, much was and is being required for <strong>the</strong>ir care. Not only does<br />

it stretch me physically, but most especially, emotionally. Anyone who has cared for elderly family members can<br />

understand <strong>the</strong> tumultuous combination <strong>of</strong> love, grief, nostalgia, guilt, sadness, and joy that are a part <strong>of</strong> every day.<br />

Yet, we are responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, and time, it is<br />

expected that we benefit o<strong>the</strong>rs. There are a number <strong>of</strong> stories in this issue that relate to this wisdom. The Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>’ beaches are naturally stunning, and we all need to do our part to keep <strong>the</strong>m that way. Participation in<br />

sports can be a lifeline for <strong>the</strong> country’s youth; <strong>the</strong> program is looking for people and sponsors. Learning disabilities<br />

in a family are especially hard for folks with limited resources and <strong>the</strong> Ashley’s Learning Centre needs funding and<br />

volunteers. Take heart in <strong>the</strong> example <strong>of</strong> how <strong>the</strong> country’s first treadle sewing machine was put to good use!<br />

With <strong>the</strong> ongoing real estate boom, TCI is becoming a country <strong>of</strong> great disparity in wealth and resources. How<br />

much better it would be if we could all share <strong>the</strong> best <strong>of</strong> what we have.<br />

Kathy Borsuk, Editor<br />

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

6 www.timespub.tc

Arc<br />

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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<br />

Register your interest today<br />

at: www.livesouthbank.com<br />

For more information contact<br />

Nina Siegenthaler at 649.231.0707<br />

Joe Zahm at 649.231.6188<br />

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

@livesouthbank<br />

@livesouthbank<br />

The Lissoni® trademark is owned by Piero Lissoni and any<br />

use <strong>of</strong> such mark by South Bank and Arc is under license.

Everything’s Included<br />

For Everyone<br />


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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.

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

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

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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>

The sky is <strong>the</strong> limit.<br />

The world’s premier destination for kiteboarding and<br />

active watersports in a luxury setting.<br />

H2O provides luxury beachfront accommodations<br />

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Our friendly staff goes above and beyond to give<br />

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Where <strong>the</strong> welcome is always warm.<br />

www.villas.tc • +1 (649) 432-4673 • stay@villas.tc

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />



Kathy Borsuk<br />


Claire Parrish<br />


Kathy Borsuk, Rachel Craft, Kelly Currington, Mel DeBlasio,<br />

Libby Dube, Jarrett Forbes, Nandina Hislop, Carlton Mills,<br />

Debbie-lee Mills, C.E. O’Brien, Abigail Parnell, Jody Rathgeb,<br />

Diane Taylor, Anna Templeton, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot.<br />


Ashley’s Learning Centre, Current magazine,<br />

Kelly Currington, Gabrielle Gai<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Gary James—Provo Pictures, Usha Lingappa,<br />

Marta Morton, Dr. C.E. O’Brien, Rebecca Orr, Tom Rathgeb,<br />

Lynn Robinson, Madison Roth, Shutterstock,<br />

Diane Taylor, Lisa Turnbow-Talbot.<br />


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 © <strong>2023</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 234,<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

<strong>the</strong> way it was<br />

It was quite a voyage to procure a treadle sewing machine to Pine Cay in <strong>the</strong> early 1980s, but Diane Taylor made good use <strong>of</strong> it to sew a<br />

variety <strong>of</strong> clo<strong>the</strong>s for residents.<br />


By Plane, Boat, and Golf Cart<br />

Pine Cay’s first (and only?) treadle sewing machine.<br />

By Diane Taylor<br />

Some <strong>of</strong>fer mosaic classes to school kids. O<strong>the</strong>rs weave straw baskets for sale. Still o<strong>the</strong>rs grow tomatoes<br />

or sweet potatoes or collect conch pearls or count birds or feed <strong>the</strong> donkeys or bear daughters or fight<br />

our legal battles or save <strong>the</strong> reefs. And it seems <strong>the</strong>y all need pants and someone with a sewing machine<br />

to fix <strong>the</strong>m. It’s called belonging . . .<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 19


Our fine house on Pine Cay in <strong>the</strong> early 1980s had<br />

no electricity. Candles, sometimes half toppled over in<br />

<strong>the</strong> late afternoon heat, lit <strong>the</strong> stage for dinner. Batteries<br />

provided light for <strong>the</strong> kitchen and living room. The day’s<br />

water was hand pumped every morning from <strong>the</strong> cistern<br />

underneath <strong>the</strong> house to a container in <strong>the</strong> attic from<br />

where it reached sinks by gravity. All laundry was washed<br />

by hand and sun dried on a line over <strong>the</strong> flat ro<strong>of</strong>. The<br />

refrigerator ran on kerosene. The toilet was <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> composting<br />

variety.<br />

The Cuban crows were <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> raucous variety, right<br />

outside <strong>the</strong> bedroom window. They began <strong>the</strong>ir loud discussions<br />

before sunup day after day until I ran out one<br />

morning waving arms and garbling in my best crow-ese.<br />

They were duly terrified and never returned.<br />

Fortunate we were, Toddler, husband, and I to be living<br />

in this spacious home thanks to owner Chuck Hesse,<br />

who decided we needed <strong>the</strong> house more than he did. We<br />

had sailed to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos from Miami in a 28-foot<br />

sailboat—an at-times harrowing passage with small child<br />

aboard for new mo<strong>the</strong>r me. Chuck relocated to his work<br />

place, <strong>the</strong> dome, which was a five-minute walk away down<br />

a narrow sandy path.<br />

Immediately after moving into this expansive airy<br />

house, I felt I could now expand my creative side with<br />

a sewing machine. Did Singer still make treadle sewing<br />

machines like <strong>the</strong> one I’d grown up with in <strong>the</strong> 1940s<br />

and 1950s in Canada? A single call via VHF to Miami<br />

unear<strong>the</strong>d a Singer company and yes, <strong>the</strong>y still made treadles.<br />

Very pleased, I placed an order. The treadle arrived<br />

by air to Provo, by boat to Pine Cay, and by golf cart (no<br />

gas vehicles were allowed on Pine Cay) to my door step,<br />

no mishaps, no delays—it seemed both magical and completely<br />

normal. We ripped <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> cardboard and placed it<br />

The Cuban crows outside Diane Taylor’s window were typically raucous garblers.<br />

Kenneth Williams was a PRIDE technician who fabricated an “experimental”<br />

fence for <strong>the</strong> fledgling conch farm out <strong>of</strong> Slinkies.<br />

against <strong>the</strong> dividing wall between <strong>the</strong> kitchen and dining<br />

room where it shone like a new member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> family—<br />

shiny black metal feet and golden wood body topped with<br />

its glistening black arm.<br />

My treadle was <strong>the</strong> only sewing machine on Pine Cay.<br />

As word got around that Dee (as I was known <strong>the</strong>n) had<br />

a treadle, people began appearing at <strong>the</strong> screen door<br />

with requests. Bennett Gardiner from North Caicos, a<br />

technician at PRIDE (Protection <strong>of</strong> Reefs and <strong>Islands</strong> from<br />

Degradation and Exploitation) came with a pair <strong>of</strong> pants<br />

over his arm and asked if I<br />

could shorten <strong>the</strong>m for him. Of<br />

course! Then it was Kenneth<br />

Williams from Bottle Creek,<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r PRIDE technician,<br />

also wanting pants shortened.<br />

Sure, be ready tomorrow! At<br />

<strong>the</strong> time, Kenneth was helping<br />

fabricate and install an experimental<br />

“fence” made <strong>of</strong> dozens<br />

<strong>of</strong> Slinkies for <strong>the</strong> fledgling<br />

conch farm. The Toddler also<br />

needed pants, <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> jumper<br />

style, and soon he was running<br />

around scaring <strong>the</strong> lizards and<br />


20 www.timespub.tc

hermit crabs in a pair made <strong>of</strong> russet-coloured cotton<br />

knit.<br />

Then it was Ginny Cowles. Ginny had once flown Louis<br />

Leakey, <strong>the</strong> renowned anthropologist and archaeologist,<br />

around Kenya one summer. Now she and her husband Bill<br />

owned and ran <strong>the</strong> Meridian Club on Pine Cay. She came<br />

to <strong>the</strong> door one day, also with pants, <strong>of</strong> durable taupe-coloured<br />

cotton. She’d bought <strong>the</strong>m from a catalogue and<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were several sizes too big for her. Could I fix <strong>the</strong>m,<br />

she asked. I was dubious about cutting <strong>the</strong>m to fit, but<br />

she said she didn’t care if <strong>the</strong>y were unwearable after I’d<br />

tried my best, as she couldn’t wear <strong>the</strong>m anyway. Okay!<br />

Scissors in hand, I cut and cut and cut. Then sewed everything<br />

back toge<strong>the</strong>r. Amazingly, <strong>the</strong>y looked like pants<br />

and, more amazingly, <strong>the</strong>y fit. How much, Ginny asked.<br />

Five dollars, I said. Oh, charge me more than that, she<br />

said. No, no, I said, that’s <strong>the</strong> hourly wage here. So, we<br />

settled on five and grinned.<br />

A few years later, circumstances dictated that I leave<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>—by far <strong>the</strong> most difficult departure <strong>of</strong> my life.<br />

I gave <strong>the</strong> treadle to Alexander Grant, a young man who<br />

worked on Pine Cay during <strong>the</strong> week but lived in Sandy<br />

Point on North Caicos. Now Pastor Grant, forty years ago<br />

he wanted <strong>the</strong> sewing machine for his wife Nella and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

three growing children. Sturdy and dependable as those<br />

Singer treadles were, Nella used <strong>the</strong> sewing machine for<br />

straw work for many years, and it still resides with <strong>the</strong><br />

Grant family in Sandy Point, where it belongs. a<br />

Thank you to Charles Delancey for Sandy Point updates.<br />

Thank you, all <strong>the</strong>se years later, to Chuck Hesse for <strong>the</strong><br />

house.<br />

Chuck Hesse comments: “I lived, as a local, from 1974–75<br />

in South Caicos. I became aware that many pre-centralpower<br />

items were being stocked at TIMCO on Grand Turk.<br />

My house design on Pine Cay was an undertaking to live<br />

on a remote piece <strong>of</strong> property, making use <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> kerosene<br />

refrigerator and freezer as well as <strong>the</strong> “wobble” hand<br />

water pump available through TIMCO. I added a 12-volt<br />

wind generator, VHF radio, and car tape player. For bathing,<br />

I added a passive solar hot water heater and cattle<br />

trough tank for gravity water pressure, and sunk my tub<br />

into <strong>the</strong> floor to assure better shower water pressure.<br />

Along with a small skiff and hand spear, I knew what<br />

happiness was about. I thought my home incorporated<br />

all that local residents saw as normal with just a few<br />

more creature comforts—a lifestyle Diane seemed to find<br />

uniquely memorable.”<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 21


making a difference<br />

Opposite page: Nobody likes to see trash, especially water bottles and o<strong>the</strong>r beverage containers, littering <strong>the</strong> TCI’s beautiful beaches.<br />

Above: By taking care, making small changes, and cleaning up after ourselves, we can all help keep <strong>the</strong> beaches clean and pristine.<br />


Small Changes, Big Impact<br />

How can we keep <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> clean and pristine?<br />

By Kelly Currington<br />

The tropical sun beams down on <strong>the</strong> shimmering turquoise water surrounding <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

to produce a scene that cannot be described in words. For many travelers, <strong>the</strong>re is no seascape more<br />

beautiful in <strong>the</strong> world. The ebb and flow <strong>of</strong> ocean and sun create so many variations <strong>of</strong> blue, emerald, and<br />

turquoise that you will think you are looking at a jewel. And you are—<strong>the</strong> most precious this planet has.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 23

Walking along world-famous Grace Bay Beach and<br />

slipping into <strong>the</strong> refreshing water kissing <strong>the</strong> sand’s edge<br />

is a coveted experience. Free <strong>of</strong> trash and debris, <strong>the</strong><br />

view is unmatched by few places. It is <strong>the</strong> responsibility<br />

<strong>of</strong> every person who sets foot on <strong>the</strong>se pristine beaches to<br />

keep it that way.<br />

When people come to <strong>the</strong> beach for a day <strong>of</strong> fun,<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir intentions are not to cause damage, but sadly, <strong>the</strong><br />

outcome is <strong>of</strong>ten just that. The day has been planned in<br />

great detail. Cooler packed with snacks and drinks, bags<br />

filled with sunscreen, hats, and beach toys, and <strong>the</strong> mood<br />

carefree. All have <strong>the</strong> best time frolicking in <strong>the</strong> clear turquoise<br />

ocean, building sand castles in <strong>the</strong> powder white<br />

sand, working on <strong>the</strong>ir tans, and keeping cool with whatever<br />

drink suits <strong>the</strong>m. Who could ask for a better day?<br />

Somewhere along <strong>the</strong> way, society has adopted a “disposable”<br />

mindset. A lot <strong>of</strong> this has grown from necessity<br />

as work days became longer and time a luxury, so disposable<br />

was easy. But now it seems to be an accepted way <strong>of</strong><br />

life ra<strong>the</strong>r than a necessity. Think about it—everything is<br />

produced, packaged, and advertised based on ease and<br />

convenience, which <strong>of</strong>ten means everyday items are made<br />

<strong>of</strong> plastic and <strong>of</strong>ten wrapped in plastic, polystyrene, or<br />

a multitude <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r non-biodegradable products. These<br />

tragically end up causing unfathomable damage to our<br />

planet—specifically <strong>the</strong> oceans, affecting all marine life<br />

and ultimately, <strong>the</strong> ecosystems.<br />

A lone jogger is out for a morning run along <strong>the</strong><br />

beach, enjoying <strong>the</strong> smell <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> salty air, <strong>the</strong> warmth <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> morning sun, and a view that would calm <strong>the</strong> most<br />

electrically charged soul. His eyes are drawn to <strong>the</strong> evidence<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> “fun day at <strong>the</strong> beach.” Strewn around are<br />

juice boxes with straws, a plastic shovel sticking out <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> sand, an inflatable raft wedged under a lounge chair,<br />

clear plastic snack wrappers tumbling about in <strong>the</strong> gentle<br />

breeze, adult beverage containers half buried, and <strong>the</strong><br />

popular red “Solo” cups protruding from <strong>the</strong> sand, buried<br />

by <strong>the</strong> high tide, waiting to be washed into <strong>the</strong> sea.<br />

This leftover mayhem is seldom intentional, but<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r a byproduct <strong>of</strong> society’s “disposable” attitude. I<br />

think we have all come to realize that <strong>the</strong>re are very few<br />

things that are truly disposable—everything ends up in a<br />

landfill, <strong>the</strong> ozone layer, or <strong>the</strong> ocean, causing colossal<br />

harm to <strong>the</strong> planet. The good news is that public awareness<br />

and concern have shifted in a positive direction, with<br />

focus directed toward living a more eco-friendly life.<br />

This means we can all work toge<strong>the</strong>r by making small<br />

adjustments in our daily lives to start reducing <strong>the</strong> amount<br />

<strong>of</strong> waste we produce and leave behind. Small changes we<br />

can all make in our lives will reduce our residual foot-<br />


The amount and assortment <strong>of</strong> trash that can collect on a beach is astonishing! Let’s do our part to clean it up!<br />

24 www.timespub.tc

print, and improve our lives as well. Let’s start with one<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most obvious: Always clean up after yourself and<br />

make sure all trash is disposed <strong>of</strong> properly and never<br />

left behind.<br />

Something we use every day are cups, so instead <strong>of</strong><br />

disposable cups, buy a reusable cup like a YETI or water<br />

bottle and always have it with you. These cups and bottles<br />

seal, you can choose <strong>the</strong> size to fit your habits, and<br />

most importantly, <strong>the</strong>y leave no trash behind. You can<br />

have <strong>the</strong>m personalized with your favorite animal, sports<br />

team, logo, name, or o<strong>the</strong>r design to make you smile<br />

every time you use it.<br />

Plastic straws should be removed from our lives completely.<br />

I know <strong>the</strong>y are convenient, and most <strong>of</strong> us have<br />

been raised using <strong>the</strong>m, but it’s time to change <strong>the</strong> habit.<br />

If you prefer to drink from a straw, just change to reusable<br />

metal or bamboo straws. They work perfectly with<br />

your reusable cup! Always keep one with you so even<br />

when you go out to eat, you won’t be tempted to use<br />

a plastic straw dispensed by <strong>the</strong> restaurant. When <strong>the</strong><br />

demand stops, so will production!<br />


Inflatable rafts and beach toys are easily swept up by <strong>the</strong> wind and<br />

carried away to become an eyesore.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r change we can make when going out to eat,<br />

especially at any <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> amazing restaurants in <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos, is planning ahead and bringing a reusable container<br />

to bring home any leftovers. This way you get to<br />

bring your delicious food home without contributing to<br />

Styr<strong>of</strong>oam use and you’re less likely to bring single-use<br />

containers to <strong>the</strong> beach.<br />

If you bring inflatable rafts, rings, or toys to <strong>the</strong><br />

beach, ensure <strong>the</strong>y are secured when not in use and that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y leave <strong>the</strong> beach with you at <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> day. This<br />

prevents any chance <strong>the</strong>y will get swept up by <strong>the</strong> wind or<br />

tide and carried away. Even better, forego <strong>the</strong> inflatables,<br />

as <strong>the</strong> salinity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> water in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos allows<br />

you to naturally float so you won’t miss <strong>the</strong>m!<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 25


Top: If you are a snorkeler or diver, carry a mesh bag with you to<br />

remove harmful items, like this plastic bag, from contaminating <strong>the</strong><br />

beautiful and fragile coral reefs.<br />

Above: This lovely crew takes beach clean-up seriously, enjoying a<br />

day in <strong>the</strong> sun and making a difference at <strong>the</strong> same time.<br />

In addition to managing<br />

your own impact on <strong>the</strong><br />

beaches and ocean, <strong>the</strong>re<br />

are little things we can do to<br />

minimize <strong>the</strong> footprints left<br />

by o<strong>the</strong>rs. Every time you go<br />

to <strong>the</strong> beach, or even walk<br />

down <strong>the</strong> street, pick up<br />

at least 10 pieces <strong>of</strong> trash<br />

and properly dispose <strong>of</strong> it.<br />

If more people did this, <strong>the</strong><br />

beaches and streets would<br />

stay clean. Reusable mesh<br />

bags are a great item you<br />

can keep with you to collect<br />

trash and <strong>the</strong>n dump it in a<br />

receptacle.<br />

Protecting your skin<br />

from <strong>the</strong> intense tropical<br />

sun is important; equally<br />

important is protecting<br />

coral reefs. Many <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sunscreens<br />

on <strong>the</strong> market can<br />

have detrimental effects on<br />

<strong>the</strong> marine environment.<br />

Most sunscreens contain<br />

ingredients that are destructive to coral reefs. If your sunscreen<br />

has Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Methylbenzylidene<br />

camphor, Benzylidene, or Octocrylene, please do not<br />

26 www.timespub.tc

wear it in <strong>the</strong> ocean. These products cause a whole range<br />

<strong>of</strong> problems for reefs and <strong>the</strong>ir substrates. They can be<br />

toxic to coral larvae, cause DNA deformities, and contribute<br />

to coral bleaching.<br />

There are several reef-safe sunscreens on <strong>the</strong> market,<br />

so reach for one after double-checking <strong>the</strong> ingredients<br />

to make sure <strong>the</strong>y don’t include any <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> harmful toxins<br />

listed above. (Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se toxins are in makeup<br />

as well, so it’s best to flaunt your natural beauty at <strong>the</strong><br />

beach.) Ano<strong>the</strong>r way to fur<strong>the</strong>r minimize sunscreen usage<br />

is to cover exposed areas <strong>of</strong> your skin with UV-protective<br />

clothing. You protect your body and <strong>the</strong> ocean at <strong>the</strong><br />

same time!<br />

If you are an underwater adventurer, <strong>the</strong>re is nothing<br />

more heart-wrenching for a diver than to see trash littering<br />

<strong>the</strong> reef and threatening <strong>the</strong> marine life. Just like on<br />

land, you can carry a mesh bag and cutting device to help<br />

remove any harmful items you find on a dive. It’s crucial<br />

to check that <strong>the</strong>re are no marine animals caught up in<br />

<strong>the</strong> trash before removing it. Always be gentle with <strong>the</strong><br />

corals while removing debris, especially fishing line that<br />

gets wrapped around and tangled on hard corals and in<br />

s<strong>of</strong>t corals.<br />

Something that most people don’t think about being<br />

harmful is taking shells from <strong>the</strong> sea. Most <strong>of</strong>ten this is<br />

done because <strong>the</strong> person wants to have a piece <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

beauty that shells represent, but this disrupts <strong>the</strong> natural<br />

cycle <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ecosystem. When you take an empty shell<br />

from <strong>the</strong> sea, you have just removed a potential home<br />

or hide-out for a creature that might o<strong>the</strong>rwise be left<br />

vulnerable to predators, including small fish and shrimp.<br />

Creatures like hermit crabs constantly move to larger<br />

shells as <strong>the</strong>y grow. Although you may think one shell<br />

won’t make a difference, consider if a million visitors take<br />

just one shell each—that’s a million homes removed from<br />

<strong>the</strong> ecosystem. A better way to preserve and remember<br />

<strong>the</strong> beauty <strong>of</strong> any natural landscape is to leave with photos<br />

and a heart full <strong>of</strong> happiness.<br />

These small and relatively simple changes can make<br />

a HUGE impact on <strong>the</strong> health <strong>of</strong> our planet. Just think:<br />

If you make one change, and this encourages ten people<br />

around you to make one change, and ten people for<br />

each <strong>of</strong> those ten people make one change, <strong>the</strong> domino<br />

sequence continues and <strong>the</strong> size <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> positive impact<br />

on <strong>the</strong> oceans and ecosystems would be immeasurable!<br />

Our commitment and actions can and WILL make a difference<br />

in keeping <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> “Beautiful by<br />

Nature.” a<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 27

creature feature<br />

Opposite page: This stareye hermit crab has carried its home onto a purple rope sponge. Note that its pupils look like starbursts.<br />

Above: A hermit crab has five pairs <strong>of</strong> legs. The first pair is <strong>the</strong> pincers or claws, with one used for defense and climbing and <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r used<br />

primarily for eating. The next two pair <strong>of</strong> legs are walking legs. The fourth pair hold <strong>the</strong> shell and help maneuver it while walking. The final<br />

pair are small legs used for shell maintenance.<br />

The Original House Flippers<br />

Hermit crabs take real estate seriously.<br />

Story & Photos By Kelly Currington<br />

Hermit crabs’ unusual name comes from <strong>the</strong> fact that <strong>the</strong>y carry <strong>the</strong>ir home on <strong>the</strong>ir back, inferring that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are reclusive and live in solitude, but this is far from true. They can actually be very social animals<br />

and create communities in <strong>the</strong> wild.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 29

Hermit crabs change shells after each molting, usually moving to a larger space, as this crab is doing.<br />

Hermit crabs are one-<strong>of</strong>-a-kind evolutionary crustacean<br />

anomalies. Although <strong>the</strong>y are called crabs, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

aren’t true crabs, which have thick chitinous exoskeletons.<br />

Instead, hermit crabs have s<strong>of</strong>t, long, spiral-coiled<br />

abdomens that end in an asymmetrically hooked tail,<br />

which <strong>the</strong>y use to secure <strong>the</strong>mselves in an abandoned<br />

mollusk shell. This protects <strong>the</strong>ir s<strong>of</strong>t and vulnerable bodies,<br />

which have no natural protection from <strong>the</strong> elements<br />

or predators.<br />

Before becoming anything resembling <strong>the</strong>ir adult<br />

appearance, hermit crabs go through several stages <strong>of</strong><br />

change. The eggs will develop into tiny, free-swimming<br />

larvae called zoea, which have spiny carapaces and rudimentary<br />

limbs on <strong>the</strong> abdomen and thorax. From this<br />

stage <strong>the</strong>y molt numerous times before reaching <strong>the</strong><br />

next stage <strong>of</strong> growth, <strong>the</strong> megalops, where appendages<br />

appear, <strong>the</strong> abdomen leng<strong>the</strong>ns, and <strong>the</strong> eyes enlarge.<br />

After several more moltings, megalops becomes juvenile<br />

hermit crabs, little replicas <strong>of</strong> adults.<br />

Over <strong>the</strong>ir lifetime, hermit crabs molt regularly as<br />

<strong>the</strong>y grow. The smaller <strong>the</strong> crab, <strong>the</strong> more <strong>of</strong>ten it molts.<br />

Tiny ones (0.7 inch in diameter) will bury <strong>the</strong>mselves in<br />

<strong>the</strong> sand for about two weeks for <strong>the</strong> molting process,<br />

and <strong>the</strong>y will do this several times a year. Then, as <strong>the</strong>y<br />

reach about 0.96 inch in diameter, <strong>the</strong> process takes<br />

about a month and happens three or four times per year.<br />

The next phase (1.68 inches in diameter) doubles in duration<br />

but only happens once or twice a year. Finally, when<br />

a hermit crab reaches adulthood, <strong>the</strong> process still takes<br />

about two months, but decreases in frequency to once<br />

every eighteen months or so. All <strong>the</strong>se moltings are part<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> aging process, but unlike some o<strong>the</strong>r crustaceans,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is little difference in <strong>the</strong>ir appearance pre- and postmolting.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r fun fact about <strong>the</strong>se interesting critters is<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y will change shells after each molting, usually<br />

upgrading to slightly more space than <strong>the</strong>ir previous<br />

home. Sometimes this consists <strong>of</strong> very complex shell<br />

exchanges with dozens <strong>of</strong> post-molting hermit crabs.<br />

One crab will leave <strong>the</strong>ir current shell and a smaller one<br />

will move into <strong>the</strong> vacant real estate. This event can be<br />

one or two hermit crabs moving homes, or an entire procession<br />

<strong>of</strong> home-swappers moving into little efficiency<br />

shells that are less than an inch in size all <strong>the</strong> way up to<br />

giant hermits in <strong>the</strong> grandioso shells <strong>of</strong> Queen conch and<br />

Triton trumpets.<br />

You can also get an idea <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir age by <strong>the</strong> thickness<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir antennae and <strong>the</strong> little sharp nodules on<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir grasping claw, which is what <strong>the</strong>y use to snag food.<br />

They aren’t <strong>the</strong> pickiest eaters and will dine on just about<br />

anything that is near <strong>the</strong>m—small fish, invertebrates like<br />

worms, plankton, and floating food particles in <strong>the</strong> water<br />

that pass by <strong>the</strong>m. Keeping your fingers out <strong>of</strong> reach is<br />

advised because <strong>the</strong>y just might resemble little fishy bits<br />

to near-sighted hermits!<br />

These hardy characters can live thirty years or more<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir natural environment, and with over 800 species,<br />

and most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m marine, you are bound to encounter<br />

30 www.timespub.tc

<strong>the</strong>m on <strong>the</strong> shoreline, in shallow<br />

tide pools, or on reef dives.<br />

All hermit crabs start life in <strong>the</strong><br />

sea. Land hermits will always<br />

be close to <strong>the</strong> shoreline. They<br />

need sea water to wet <strong>the</strong>ir gills<br />

and <strong>the</strong> inside <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir shells.<br />

They will slip into a tide pool or<br />

shallow water pockets to saturate<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir gills and shell lining<br />

before moseying back to <strong>the</strong><br />

sandy shore.<br />

As with most wildlife, if<br />

you approach <strong>the</strong>m slowly and<br />

have patience, you can observe<br />

<strong>the</strong>m digging in <strong>the</strong> sand and<br />

shoveling it into <strong>the</strong>ir mouths<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y extract <strong>the</strong> nutrients<br />

and excrete <strong>the</strong> remnants.<br />

Their eyestalks are always<br />

watching for danger and when<br />

<strong>the</strong>y feel threatened, <strong>the</strong>y will<br />

Giant hermit crabs <strong>of</strong>ten inhabit conch shells, and have been known to eat <strong>the</strong> conch inside.<br />

very quickly retreat into <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

shell and <strong>the</strong> opening will fall face down on <strong>the</strong> sand. claws) in <strong>the</strong> sand and lift <strong>the</strong>ir shell so <strong>the</strong>y can peak out<br />

Sometimes <strong>the</strong>y will scuttle away quickly to avoid contact, and see if it’s safe to open <strong>the</strong> door again. If so, <strong>the</strong>y will<br />

but more <strong>of</strong>ten than not, <strong>the</strong>y just slam <strong>the</strong> door in your prop <strong>the</strong> door open and continue <strong>the</strong>ir feeding. This is a<br />

face. Don’t take this personally; <strong>the</strong>y are merely protecting<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves and waiting for any perceived danger to Hermit crabs are everywhere on <strong>the</strong> reef. You have<br />

such a treat to witness.<br />

pass. If you are very still, steady your breathing, and wait, probably swum over <strong>the</strong>m and never noticed unless<br />

<strong>the</strong>y will usually slowly place <strong>the</strong>ir chelipeds (grasping <strong>the</strong>y were out in <strong>the</strong> sand and obvious. If you slow down<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 31

32 www.timespub.tc

and take your time checking out each brightly colored<br />

sponge and coral head, you will see <strong>the</strong>m in <strong>the</strong> bottom<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sponges and in <strong>the</strong> nooks and crannies <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> coral<br />

heads. Often <strong>the</strong>re are clusters <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tiny juveniles in <strong>the</strong><br />

bowls <strong>of</strong> sponges. Don’t pass up <strong>the</strong> sea fans, but very<br />

carefully check <strong>the</strong>m over because you will see hermit<br />

crabs clinging on as <strong>the</strong> fan sways with <strong>the</strong> ebb and flow<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea.<br />

A cool treasure hunt you can do on a dive is tracking<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. You will see <strong>the</strong>ir tracks in <strong>the</strong> sand, kind <strong>of</strong> like<br />

tire tracks. You can see <strong>the</strong> individual foot marks and<br />

<strong>the</strong> shell drag. Try to follow <strong>the</strong> tracks until you find <strong>the</strong><br />

driver! (Always keep your dive orientation and never leave<br />

your dive buddy when doing this.) If you are correct in<br />

your direction, at <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tracks you will find a<br />

perfect little hermit crab!<br />

When you find <strong>the</strong>m, it is tempting to pick <strong>the</strong>m up,<br />

but please resist this urge as it traumatizes <strong>the</strong>m, as well<br />

as possibly introducing harmful bacteria from your hands<br />

onto <strong>the</strong>ir shells. It is always best to just observe, admire,<br />

photograph, and learn. If you are lucky, you may see two<br />

rivals squabbling over shells, <strong>the</strong>ir legs extended and<br />

pulling on <strong>the</strong> opposer’s shell, trying to force each to<br />

abandon <strong>the</strong>ir home so <strong>the</strong>y can claim it as <strong>the</strong>irs—house<br />

flipping at its finest!<br />

People love to take hermit crabs home and keep<br />

<strong>the</strong>m as pets, or even worse, buy <strong>the</strong>m from pet stores,<br />

but this is a death sentence for <strong>the</strong> tiny crustaceans.<br />

Even with <strong>the</strong> best <strong>of</strong> intentions and care, <strong>the</strong>y usually<br />

only live a few months at <strong>the</strong> most in captivity, which is<br />

equivalent to mere seconds in <strong>the</strong>ir thirty-year lifespan in<br />

<strong>the</strong> wild. Respecting <strong>the</strong>ir personal space, <strong>the</strong>ir place in<br />

<strong>the</strong> eco-system, and <strong>the</strong>ir right to <strong>the</strong> longest and most<br />

rewarding life possible is our responsibility.<br />

The next time you are strolling along <strong>the</strong> beach or<br />

diving on a reef, take a little time to search for <strong>the</strong>se little<br />

gems and observe <strong>the</strong>m doing what <strong>the</strong>y do best—living<br />

free, being adorable, and maintaining <strong>the</strong>ir place in <strong>the</strong><br />

ranks.<br />

There are so many beautiful and fascinating creatures<br />

in <strong>the</strong> sea, and each one plays a crucial role in keeping<br />

<strong>the</strong> reefs healthy. The more we learn about each one, <strong>the</strong><br />

more we learn how to protect <strong>the</strong>m, and in turn, protect<br />

<strong>the</strong> oceans. a<br />

Author Kelly Currington says, “My first dip below <strong>the</strong> service<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sea changed my life in an instant. I will spend<br />

every minute I can in that underwater world.”<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 33

around <strong>the</strong> islands<br />

Opposite page: The cultivation <strong>of</strong> sisal, once an industry on North Caicos, is <strong>the</strong> focal point <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> new Carlton Williams Promenade in Bottle<br />

Creek.<br />

Above: The view from <strong>the</strong> top <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> promenade area shows <strong>the</strong> sweep <strong>of</strong> Bottle Creek and includes some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> landscaping around <strong>the</strong><br />

buildings.<br />

Bound by Sisal<br />

The Carlton Williams Promenade makes connections.<br />

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

Views <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> beautiful, shallow waters <strong>of</strong> Bottle Creek, North Caicos . . . a cold drink and hot meal at a local<br />

restaurant . . . handmade fanner grass baskets for sale . . . a celebration <strong>of</strong> an island with a rich agricultural<br />

history. What connects <strong>the</strong>se things?<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 35

Above: The museum is <strong>the</strong> focal point <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> promenade. More artifacts are planned for <strong>the</strong> interior <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> building.<br />

Bottom left: The promenade is named for Carlton Williams, who with his fa<strong>the</strong>r helped to revive <strong>the</strong> sisal industry after World War II.<br />

It’s sisal. The fiber <strong>of</strong> a tough, pointy plant known as<br />

Agave rigida var. sisalana twines through <strong>the</strong>se disparate<br />

experiences, tying <strong>the</strong>m toge<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>the</strong> Carlton Williams<br />

Promenade in Bottle Creek, North Caicos.<br />

The creekside complex, which was dedicated on June<br />

13, <strong>2023</strong>, is a collection <strong>of</strong> buildings and roads representing<br />

a coalition <strong>of</strong> several government <strong>of</strong>fices and private<br />

enterprise, intended as a tourist destination that also celebrates<br />

Turks & Caicos history. The complex includes a<br />

café, gift shop, and room for o<strong>the</strong>r tourist enterprises<br />

such as watersports and tour operations. A sisal museum,<br />

however, is <strong>the</strong> focal point, <strong>the</strong> raison d’etre <strong>of</strong> this promenade.<br />

Why sisal?<br />

Until now, <strong>the</strong> sisal industry on North Caicos has received<br />

little attention. H.E. Sadler’s history <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, Turks<br />

<strong>Islands</strong> Landfall, details <strong>the</strong> farming and production <strong>of</strong><br />

sisal in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> by <strong>the</strong> East Caicos Sisal Co. Ltd. and<br />

West Caicos Fibre Co. Limited, which began operation in<br />

<strong>the</strong> late 1800s. That history, while focused elsewhere,<br />

includes plantations where sisal was grown on North and<br />

Middle Caicos, plus some small extraction operations on<br />

both islands. Altoge<strong>the</strong>r, <strong>the</strong> companies’ production gave<br />

<strong>the</strong> world a good supply <strong>of</strong> important sisal products such<br />

as nautical rope, plus twine for baskets and o<strong>the</strong>r domestic<br />

uses.<br />

The TCI’s large-scale production <strong>of</strong> sisal declined as<br />

world economies found better value in manila hemp from<br />

<strong>the</strong> Philippines, but on North Caicos <strong>the</strong>re was a small<br />

revival after World War II, when <strong>the</strong> government planted<br />

600 acres <strong>of</strong> sisal in <strong>the</strong> Caicos settlements for a steady<br />

market with a Jamaica cordage factory. But <strong>the</strong> industry<br />

faded again, as politics shifted and o<strong>the</strong>r products<br />

replaced <strong>the</strong> natural fiber. This is <strong>the</strong> history told by <strong>the</strong><br />

new sisal museum and <strong>the</strong> Carlton Williams Promenade.<br />

36 www.timespub.tc

Sisal produced in <strong>the</strong> Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> was important for nautical use until economics and politics swung favor to manila hemp from <strong>the</strong><br />

Philippines. In addition to its use in rope, sisal was also used in domestic items.<br />

The late Claudius Williams <strong>of</strong> Bottle Creek, who<br />

became <strong>the</strong> agricultural <strong>of</strong>ficer for <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, was key<br />

to this revival. He involved his son Carlton in <strong>the</strong> “new”<br />

sisal industry, which was aided by mechanisation with <strong>the</strong><br />

raspidor, a device that made it easier to strip <strong>the</strong> plant<br />

down to its useable fiber. Carlton, unfortunately, lost his<br />

fingers to this device, giving some <strong>of</strong> his own self to <strong>the</strong><br />

sisal industry.<br />

Time to grow<br />

The new museum is thus both local and countrywide,<br />

and, like sisal, a way to tie toge<strong>the</strong>r past and future and<br />

<strong>the</strong> interests <strong>of</strong> government and private enterprise. Also<br />

like sisal, it needs some time to grow.<br />

The coalition that brought <strong>the</strong> Carlton Williams<br />

Promenade toge<strong>the</strong>r is an ambitious one. It is a site<br />

under <strong>the</strong> wing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI Ministry <strong>of</strong> Tourism, but it also<br />

includes <strong>the</strong> support <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Department <strong>of</strong> Environmental<br />

and Coastal Resources (DECR) and <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

National Trust. Toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y are <strong>the</strong> administrators for a<br />

project that <strong>of</strong>fers leasing space to local businesses. Sisal<br />

weaves it all toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Its buildings, erected by contractor Steven Walkin,<br />

appear from <strong>the</strong> waterside as a pyramid, with <strong>the</strong> museum<br />

at <strong>the</strong> top. The area was beautifully landscaped by North<br />

Caicos farmer and entrepreneur Courtney Missick, and<br />

early leases include Miss B’s Bayside Café and D’s Native<br />

Gift Shop. There is room for growth, and an actual “promenade”<br />

area along <strong>the</strong> water. An existing, but crumbling,<br />

dock area is slated for improvement (although it should<br />

be noted that Bottle Creek is quite shallow and can<br />

accommodate only small, flat boats). The museum currently<br />

has only a few items relating to <strong>the</strong> sisal industry,<br />

but more artifacts and better explanations are planned,<br />

including an actual raspidor like <strong>the</strong> one that took Mr.<br />

Williams’ fingers.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> Summer <strong>2023</strong> 37

Spaces for a café and shop have already been leased, but <strong>the</strong>re is room for o<strong>the</strong>r local businesses at <strong>the</strong> promenade.<br />

Looking ahead<br />

Despite <strong>the</strong> “more to come” nature <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> promenade, <strong>the</strong><br />

summer’s dedication <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> site was both optimistic and<br />

forward-looking. Participants included Lormeka Williams,<br />

DECR director, as host; Ludwina Fulford, director <strong>of</strong> culture;<br />

Hon. Josephine Connolly, minister for tourism; Hon.<br />

Rhondalee Braithwaite, attorney general; Hon. Charles<br />

Washington Missick, premier; Hon. Arlington Musgrove;<br />

H.E. Anya Williams, <strong>the</strong>n-acting governor; and Claudius<br />

Williams, son <strong>of</strong> Carlton Williams, who cut <strong>the</strong> ribbon on<br />

behalf <strong>of</strong> his fa<strong>the</strong>r, <strong>the</strong> area’s namesake.<br />

The takeaway comment, however, was made by Jas<br />

Walkin, district commissioner for North Caicos: “North<br />

Caicos, your time has come.” a<br />

Know <strong>the</strong> ropes<br />

Here’s some helpful information for those planning<br />

on visiting <strong>the</strong> Carlton Williams Promenade.<br />

• Open hours at <strong>the</strong> sisal museum have been irregular<br />

as new staffing schedules and “<strong>the</strong> season” get<br />

under way. Unless you are part <strong>of</strong> a pre-arranged<br />

tour, you might want to check before dropping in.<br />

Call Miss Carrie Harvey at 649-245-2095.<br />

• Finding <strong>the</strong> promenade can be tricky without signage<br />

on <strong>the</strong> main road in Bottle Creek. Ask at local<br />

businesses where to turn toward <strong>the</strong> creek.<br />

• As <strong>the</strong> promenade is located at <strong>the</strong> bottom <strong>of</strong> a<br />

hill, access can be difficult for <strong>the</strong> handicapped and<br />

elderly, and parking close to <strong>the</strong> buildings is limited.<br />

Catch a ride from <strong>the</strong> upper parking lot to <strong>the</strong> building<br />

you want to visit.<br />

• Those wishing to promenade on <strong>the</strong> promenade to<br />

take in <strong>the</strong> view will find little shade. Be sure to wear<br />

a hat and sunscreen! a<br />

38 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 />


A distinctive resident <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> is <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos rock iguana (Cyclura carninata). Shown above is an adult male (at<br />

left) and adult female (at right). The species is critically endangered according to <strong>the</strong> International Union for Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature (IUCN).<br />

Iguana Be Left Alone!<br />

Why TCI tourists should avoid feeding rock iguanas.<br />

By Mel DeBlasio (Yale University), Libby Dube (Western Washington University),<br />

and Anna Templeton (University <strong>of</strong> Vermont) ~ Edited by C.E. O’Brien, Ph.D.<br />

(The School for Field Studies, Center for Marine Resource Studies, South Caicos, Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>)<br />

Visitors flock to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> to enjoy <strong>the</strong> white sand, sunny wea<strong>the</strong>r, and calm surf, but<br />

<strong>the</strong>y aren’t alone on <strong>the</strong>se picturesque beaches. The <strong>Islands</strong> are also home to an incredible array <strong>of</strong> native<br />

flora and fauna, which, in contrast to <strong>the</strong> transient tourists, live year-round in <strong>the</strong> small but rich island<br />

ecosystems.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 39

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

One particularly noticeable resident is <strong>the</strong> large Turks<br />

& Caicos rock iguana. Although <strong>the</strong>ir long tails, scaly skin,<br />

and big claws make <strong>the</strong>m look like invincible predators,<br />

<strong>the</strong> species is actually critically endangered according to<br />

<strong>the</strong> International Union for Conservation <strong>of</strong> Nature (IUCN)<br />

and very susceptible to human and environmental disturbances.<br />

The reptiles were once widespread across Turks<br />

& Caicos, but can now only be found on a few isolated<br />

cays.<br />

According to an evaluative study conducted in 2002,<br />

rock iguanas had disappeared from 13 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> islands in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos that <strong>the</strong>y once inhabited. Not only is<br />

this bad news for <strong>the</strong> iguanas <strong>the</strong>mselves, but it’s also<br />

devastating for <strong>the</strong> ecosystems <strong>the</strong>y inhabit. Iguanas<br />

play an essential role in maintaining <strong>the</strong> environment for<br />

<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r plants and animals that share <strong>the</strong>ir space. For<br />

example, native plants rely on iguanas to spread <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

seeds across large distances. The iguanas nibble on <strong>the</strong><br />

plants in one location and excrete <strong>the</strong> indigestible seeds<br />

in a new location. They also dig up <strong>the</strong> ground to make<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir burrows, mixing oxygen and nutrients throughout<br />

<strong>the</strong> soil. As a result <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se important behaviors, when<br />

<strong>the</strong> iguana population declines <strong>the</strong> whole native ecosystem<br />

suffers greatly.<br />

Organizations from Turks & Caicos and abroad have<br />

been working for years to restore <strong>the</strong> iguana population,<br />

reintroducing <strong>the</strong>m to uninhabited cays and protecting<br />

<strong>the</strong>m where <strong>the</strong>y do occur. In <strong>the</strong> past, <strong>the</strong>se iguanas<br />

were hunted by feral cats and dogs, as well as humans.<br />

These days, iguanas face a friendlier, but none<strong>the</strong>less<br />

dangerous, threat. Tourists encountering <strong>the</strong>se intriguing<br />

animals on vacation are inclined to feed <strong>the</strong>m, a widespread<br />

practice referred to as “provisioning.” But despite<br />

good intentions, provisioning can have disastrous consequences<br />

for <strong>the</strong> TCI rock iguana and wildlife in general.<br />

In o<strong>the</strong>r animals, provisioning can lead to a host <strong>of</strong><br />

negative consequences. For instance, researchers have<br />

found that a history <strong>of</strong> human feeding has made members<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> population <strong>of</strong> bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay<br />

(Florida) inclined to seek interaction with fishers, boaters,<br />

and tourists. This has led to an increase in <strong>the</strong> rate<br />

<strong>of</strong> injury to <strong>the</strong>se dolphins through entanglement with<br />

fishing gear and collisions with boats. Similarly, a study<br />

<strong>of</strong> Barbary macaques in Morocco demonstrated that provisioned<br />

populations experienced higher stress levels and<br />

hair loss. Studies <strong>of</strong> birds have found that provisioning<br />

Above and opposite page: These photos compare <strong>the</strong> three habitats<br />

where iguana surveys were performed. From left: Rocky ridge, dense<br />

shrubbery and sandy beach.<br />

can negatively impact health due to <strong>the</strong> inappropriateness<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> food provisioned (bread is not good for most<br />

birds!) and <strong>the</strong> disease and parasite transmission that can<br />

occur between individuals when <strong>the</strong>y are congregated at<br />

unnaturally high densities around a food source.<br />

Wildlife provisioning may have negative consequences<br />

for humans as well. In Thailand, during <strong>the</strong><br />

COVID-19 lockdown, residents were inundated by hordes<br />

<strong>of</strong> scavenging long-tailed macaques, whose populations<br />

had been unnaturally boosted by food from <strong>the</strong> now suddenly<br />

absent tourists. These hungry monkeys rampaged<br />

through city streets, rooting through trash and entering<br />

homes and businesses in search <strong>of</strong> snacks, sometimes<br />

driving residents and business owners away. Large<br />

“brawls” <strong>of</strong>ten erupted between <strong>the</strong> monkeys over scraps,<br />

including one caught on video that involved hundreds <strong>of</strong><br />

individuals fighting over a single empty yogurt cup. To<br />

control <strong>the</strong> population and reduce <strong>the</strong> mayhem, <strong>of</strong>ficials<br />

were forced to capture and sterilize over 500 individuals.<br />

40 www.timespub.tc

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


To determine <strong>the</strong> effect that provisioning has on <strong>the</strong><br />

normally timid and evasive TCI rock iguanas, researchers<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>red data on <strong>the</strong> behavior and number <strong>of</strong> iguanas<br />

in two areas located within one kilometer <strong>of</strong> each o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

on an uninhabited cay. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> areas is very popular<br />

with tourists, and <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r is rarely visited. The researchers<br />

walked through three types <strong>of</strong> sub-habitats: sandy<br />

beaches, dense shrubbery, and rocky cliffs. In <strong>the</strong> more<br />

rugged non-tourist area, <strong>the</strong> iguanas exhibited skittish<br />

behavior. Researchers only saw one rock iguana, in <strong>the</strong><br />

act <strong>of</strong> running for its life, and <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir few encounters<br />

were only <strong>the</strong> unmistakable sound <strong>of</strong> scuttling feet in<br />

<strong>the</strong> bushes. In all <strong>of</strong> eight quick interactions, <strong>the</strong> iguanas<br />

in <strong>the</strong> less-touristed area displayed <strong>the</strong>ir normal fearful<br />

and protective attitudes, fleeing from potential danger.<br />

Only a short distance away in <strong>the</strong> more-touristed area,<br />

however, <strong>the</strong>re was an extreme shift in iguana behav-<br />

ior. Many more iguanas were observed, and <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

more aggressive. Three times as many interactions were<br />

logged. During most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se encounters, <strong>the</strong> researchers<br />

were able to see and maintain prolonged eye contact with<br />

<strong>the</strong>se bold reptiles, not unlike a Wild West stare down.<br />

Iguanas in this area approached researchers with fearless<br />

determination, lingering around every turn to beg<br />

for food. This food-seeking behavior is typical <strong>of</strong> rock<br />

iguanas: once <strong>the</strong>y locate a food source, <strong>the</strong>y are known<br />

to return to that site frequently. The longer researchers<br />

stayed in <strong>the</strong> tourist area, <strong>the</strong> more iguanas could be seen<br />

lurking and looking for snacks.<br />

The researchers also noted that 86% <strong>of</strong> all iguanas<br />

encountered at both sites were found within or around<br />

<strong>the</strong> dense shrubbery just upland <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> beach. On <strong>the</strong><br />

non-tourist beaches, this sub-habitat was dense, overgrown,<br />

and practically impenetrable. On <strong>the</strong> tourist<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 41

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In a touristed area, five iguanas rapidly approached visitors without fear.<br />

beach, however, <strong>the</strong> shrubbery was intersected by a wide<br />

and heavily traversed path. Not only does this walkway<br />

disruptively bisect <strong>the</strong> iguanas’ habitat, but it also gives<br />

humans unhindered access to <strong>the</strong>ir preferred hiding<br />

spaces. These invasive man-made developments increase<br />

<strong>the</strong> chances <strong>of</strong> human–iguana interactions even more.<br />

This investigation made it apparent that <strong>the</strong> iguanas<br />

subject to feeding from tourists had entirely different<br />

behavior from those who were not accustomed to human<br />

visitors. This is an important finding for multiple reasons.<br />

First and foremost, <strong>the</strong>se interactions pose physical<br />

threats to both humans and iguanas. In <strong>the</strong> touristed<br />

area, iguanas were bold and even demanding, waltzing<br />

right up to <strong>the</strong> researchers and sometimes scratching<br />

or biting <strong>the</strong>m. Provisioned iguanas also tend to fight<br />

amongst <strong>the</strong>mselves over food, depleting energy reserves<br />

and potentially resulting in injuries. Finally, humans may<br />

directly harm iguana health by unknowingly feeding <strong>the</strong>m<br />

foods that are harmful to <strong>the</strong>m and by leaving behind<br />

trash that iguanas mistake for food.<br />

Additionally, provisioning can affect <strong>the</strong> whole ecosystem,<br />

as iguanas not only feed <strong>the</strong>mselves but also<br />

nourish <strong>the</strong> environment with <strong>the</strong>ir way <strong>of</strong> living. If <strong>the</strong>y<br />

start relying on humans to give <strong>the</strong>m bananas, potato<br />

chips, and o<strong>the</strong>r snacks <strong>the</strong>y can’t find at <strong>the</strong>ir natural<br />

grocery store, <strong>the</strong>y’ll stop eating native plants. If <strong>the</strong>y<br />

stop pruning shrubs and spreading seeds, <strong>the</strong>se plants,<br />

such as <strong>the</strong> seven year apple, an important food source<br />

for native birds, and torchwood, which has a dense root<br />

system that protects against beach erosion, will no longer<br />

grow and flourish. Iguana populations will dwindle<br />

as <strong>the</strong>ir habitat becomes sparse and barren, unable to<br />

sustain <strong>the</strong>mselves on exclusively processed foods.<br />

Protecting iguanas is <strong>the</strong>refore essential to protecting <strong>the</strong><br />

vibrant and rich ecosystem <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

So, what do <strong>the</strong>se findings mean for future visitors to<br />

Turks & Caicos? If you plan on enjoying <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, it’s<br />

important to be mindful <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> native wildlife. While <strong>the</strong><br />

local critters may seem friendly and eager to accept food<br />

from tourists, remember that <strong>the</strong>y are still wild animals.<br />

These scaly little creatures deserve to have <strong>the</strong>ir homes<br />

and personal space respected.<br />

If you are visiting one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> cays where <strong>the</strong>y occur<br />

and you’d like to see an iguana in <strong>the</strong> wild, pick a sunny<br />

day and try sitting quietly and still at ground level within<br />

eyesight <strong>of</strong> dense shrubbery, <strong>the</strong>ir favorite hiding spot,<br />

keeping an ear out for <strong>the</strong>ir telltale rustling noises. This<br />

way, you have a higher chance <strong>of</strong> observing <strong>the</strong> igua-<br />

42 www.timespub.tc

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


This adult male Turks & Cacios rock iguana watches visitors approach<br />

as he perches upon a conch shell.<br />

nas without disrupting <strong>the</strong>ir normal daily activities. The<br />

best spot to do this is on Little Water Cay, also known as<br />

Iguana Cay, part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve<br />

and located a short distance nor<strong>the</strong>ast <strong>of</strong> Providenciales.<br />

Elevated boardwalks allow visitors to traverse <strong>the</strong> island<br />

without disrupting <strong>the</strong> habitat. If you do visit Little Water<br />

Cay, make sure you leave your pets at home, as dogs and<br />

cats still pose a threat to <strong>the</strong>se recovering populations.<br />

Also be sure not to stray from <strong>the</strong> boardwalk, and to collect<br />

and remove food wrappers or o<strong>the</strong>r litter that could<br />

be eaten by iguanas. And <strong>of</strong> course, NO FEEDING THE<br />

IGUANAS!<br />

By being considerate <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> local ecosystem, we can<br />

help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for ourselves and<br />

for <strong>the</strong> creatures that call <strong>the</strong>se places home. It’s best<br />

to let <strong>the</strong>m interact naturally with <strong>the</strong>ir environment and<br />

find <strong>the</strong>ir own food sources—so keep your bananas and<br />

potato chips to yourself! 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>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 43

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

Entire ecosystems are hidden beneath <strong>the</strong> muddy surface <strong>of</strong> Little Ambergris Cay’s mangrove swamps.<br />

Microbial Mats<br />

The past and <strong>the</strong> future intertwine on Little Ambergris Cay.<br />

By Rachel Craft ~ Photos By Usha Lingappa<br />

Little Ambergris Cay, an uninhabited 1,600-acre island in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos, is home to birds, turtles,<br />

rock iguanas, and more. But <strong>the</strong> majority <strong>of</strong> its denizens are hidden beneath <strong>the</strong> muddy surface <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

island’s mangrove swamps. What could easily be mistaken for a thick layer <strong>of</strong> mud are in fact intertidal<br />

microbial mats—entire ecosystems made up <strong>of</strong> billions <strong>of</strong> bacteria and o<strong>the</strong>r micro-organisms.<br />

44 www.timespub.tc

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

Looking beneath <strong>the</strong> thick layer <strong>of</strong> mud, scientists discovered microbial mats underneath <strong>the</strong> cay’s tidal lagoon.<br />

Although <strong>the</strong>ir individual constituents can’t be seen<br />

with <strong>the</strong> naked eye, microbial mats boast a level <strong>of</strong> biodiversity<br />

comparable to that <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Amazon rainforest.<br />

They form at interfaces between land and water. They<br />

range from a few millimeters to tens <strong>of</strong> centimeters<br />

thick and contain several layers, each dominated by a<br />

different type <strong>of</strong> microbe. The topmost organisms feed<br />

on sunlight, while <strong>the</strong> next layer feeds on <strong>the</strong> top layer’s<br />

byproducts, and so on, forming a self-sufficient food<br />

chain within each mat. Most organisms secrete slime or<br />

filaments, which hold <strong>the</strong> mat’s tiny inhabitants toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

and provide structural integrity.<br />

Microbial mats are some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> oldest living forms<br />

<strong>of</strong> life for which <strong>the</strong>re is substantial fossil evidence. The<br />

oldest known microbial mat fossils are roughly 3.5 billion<br />

years old. To put that in perspective, dinosaurs appeared<br />

roughly 230 million years ago, and humans didn’t arrive<br />

on <strong>the</strong> scene until 2 million years ago. Because <strong>the</strong>y’re so<br />

ancient, scientists think microbial mats may hold clues to<br />

<strong>the</strong> origins <strong>of</strong> life on Earth—and possibly o<strong>the</strong>r planets.<br />

That’s what brought Dr. Usha Lingappa, <strong>the</strong>n a graduate<br />

student at Caltech studying geobiology, and her<br />

colleagues to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos in 2017. While microbial<br />

mats have likely sprung up elsewhere in TCI, Little<br />

Ambergris Cay has <strong>the</strong> best conditions for mat growth.<br />

The small island consists <strong>of</strong> a bedrock rim surrounding<br />

a tidal lagoon, where rising and falling water levels promote<br />

mat formation. The lagoon is protected from strong<br />

waves that could wash mats away, and <strong>the</strong> lack <strong>of</strong> human<br />

activity and large animals minimizes damage to <strong>the</strong> mats.<br />

As a result, Little Ambergris Cay has “absolutely resplendent<br />

microbial mats,” Lingappa says.<br />

Lingappa’s team was interested in how photosyn<strong>the</strong>tic<br />

microbes, like <strong>the</strong> ones in microbial mats, have<br />

shaped Earth’s environment over time. Some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

research focused on determining how similar current<br />

mats are to ancient mats, and using current mats to glean<br />

information on how ancient mats evolved. “What’s cool<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 45

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

about mats is <strong>the</strong>y give us a window into what life might<br />

have been like on Earth before <strong>the</strong> rise <strong>of</strong> plants and animals,”<br />

Lingappa says.<br />

Individual microbes—which were <strong>the</strong> dominant lifeforms<br />

on Earth 3.5 billion years ago—are too small to be<br />

recognizable as fossils, but microbial mats are a different<br />

story. Their structures are large and complex enough to<br />

recognize as fossils billions <strong>of</strong> years later. This can be<br />

tricky, as some rock features are easily confused with<br />

microbial mats, but Lingappa says <strong>the</strong>re are clues to look<br />

for. Rock layers tend to stay consistently parallel, while<br />

microbial mat layers will be thicker on topographical high<br />

points and thinner on low points. This is because microbial<br />

mat growth is dependent on sunlight. Sand grains<br />

trapped within layers can also give away a microbial mat<br />

fossil, because mats are sticky enough to trap sand grains<br />

that would normally roll <strong>of</strong>f <strong>of</strong> rocks and o<strong>the</strong>r non-living<br />

surfaces.<br />

Some scientists are also using mats to narrow down<br />

<strong>the</strong> search for life on o<strong>the</strong>r planets. Because no one has<br />

found evidence <strong>of</strong> extraterrestrial life—yet—Lingappa<br />

says, “We don’t really know what we’re looking for.” One<br />

approach to this challenge is studying <strong>the</strong> most extreme<br />

forms <strong>of</strong> life on Earth, which are mostly microbial and can<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten be found in <strong>the</strong> form <strong>of</strong> mats.<br />

Besides <strong>the</strong> intertidal mats flourishing on Little<br />

Ambergris Cay, <strong>the</strong>re are many o<strong>the</strong>r types <strong>of</strong> mats on<br />

Earth, some living in extreme environments—like near<br />

underwater <strong>the</strong>rmal vents, which are heated by magma<br />

and can reach over 700ºF, or in salt marshes that are<br />

too salty for o<strong>the</strong>r species. These mats give scientists an<br />

idea <strong>of</strong> what life might look like elsewhere, both past and<br />

present. Even if life does not exist on Mars today, it may<br />

have existed in <strong>the</strong> past. Scientists are studying traces <strong>of</strong><br />

ancient microbial mats on Earth and looking for <strong>the</strong> same<br />

microscopic fossilized “fingerprints” on o<strong>the</strong>r planets.<br />

Besides shedding light on <strong>the</strong> past, microbial mats<br />

play a key role in Earth’s present. Chemically, <strong>the</strong>y help<br />

cycle things like carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur and provide<br />

nutrients to surrounding ecosystems. Physically, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

help hold down and stabilize <strong>the</strong> shoreline. Microbial<br />

mats, especially those in mangrove ecosystems, also contribute<br />

to carbon sequestration—drawing carbon dioxide<br />

from <strong>the</strong> air and storing it in <strong>the</strong> sediment.<br />

Although Lingappa says this type <strong>of</strong> carbon sequestration<br />

isn’t a magic bullet for climate change, it is<br />

This “slice” <strong>of</strong> a microbial mat shows <strong>the</strong> various layers, each dominated<br />

by a different type <strong>of</strong> microbe.<br />

encouraging. Intertidal ecosystems—swamps, lagoons,<br />

and similar environments where microbial mats form—<br />

contribute disproportionately to carbon sequestration,<br />

meaning <strong>the</strong>y can store a larger fraction <strong>of</strong> carbon from<br />

<strong>the</strong> air than <strong>the</strong> fraction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> earth’s surface area <strong>the</strong>y<br />

take up. If <strong>the</strong>se mats disappeared, Lingappa says, all <strong>the</strong><br />

carbon stored within <strong>the</strong>m would be suddenly released<br />

back into <strong>the</strong> atmosphere.<br />

That’s why Lingappa’s team also studied microbial<br />

mats’ resilience to environmental shifts. They went to<br />

Little Ambergris Cay in 2017 to investigate how changing<br />

sea levels might impact <strong>the</strong> microbial mats <strong>the</strong>re. What<br />

<strong>the</strong>y learned: When <strong>the</strong>y cut away slices <strong>of</strong> mat and transplanted<br />

<strong>the</strong>m to different elevations, <strong>the</strong> mats continued<br />

to grow. Although <strong>the</strong> microbe types within transplanted<br />

mats stayed <strong>the</strong> same, <strong>the</strong> mats changed texture—from<br />

dry and lea<strong>the</strong>ry to wet and goopy or vice versa, depending<br />

on <strong>the</strong> water level at <strong>the</strong>ir new elevation.<br />

During this study, category-5 Hurricane Irma swept<br />

through <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>, and <strong>the</strong> team’s outdoor research lab.<br />

Although Irma devastated many areas in <strong>the</strong> Caribbean,<br />

its silver lining was that it allowed Lingappa’s team to<br />

study firsthand how microbial mats responded to being<br />

46 www.timespub.tc

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

More studies are underway in TCI to better understand how microbial mats might help stabilize sediment after a hurricane and help islands<br />

keep pace with rising sea levels.<br />

flooded, covered in sediment, or uprooted and deposited<br />

elsewhere by severe storms. Irma decimated large<br />

swa<strong>the</strong>s <strong>of</strong> Little Ambergris Cay’s microbial mats, but<br />

new mats grew rapidly over surfaces exposed or deposited<br />

by <strong>the</strong> hurricane. In fact, <strong>the</strong> mats grew much faster<br />

after <strong>the</strong> hurricane than <strong>the</strong>y normally would while undisturbed,<br />

and Little Ambergris’s mat communities largely<br />

recovered from Irma within two years.<br />

Mats’ rapid regrowth after being decimated by hurricanes<br />

or transplanted to different elevations suggest<br />

<strong>the</strong>se lifeforms excel at adapting quickly to environmental<br />

disruption—which, due to climate change, is on <strong>the</strong><br />

rise.<br />

Lingappa says it’s encouraging to know that <strong>the</strong>se<br />

mats could recover from storms or rising sea levels, but<br />

she stresses that climate change isn’t that simple. “One<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> things that’s scary about climate change is that it’s<br />

going to cause a lot <strong>of</strong> different things to happen,” she<br />

says, including extreme wea<strong>the</strong>r events like hurricanes,<br />

rising sea levels, and changing temperature and chemistry<br />

in both seawater and <strong>the</strong> atmosphere. “While we can<br />

study one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se effects at a time, we really don’t know<br />

how <strong>the</strong>y will interact . . . As we see <strong>the</strong>se impacts happening,<br />

<strong>the</strong>re are going to be surprises.” More research is<br />

needed to fully understand how mats will respond to <strong>the</strong><br />

bigger picture <strong>of</strong> climate change.<br />

To this end, more studies are underway in TCI.<br />

Dr. Lizzy Trower and her team from <strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong><br />

Colorado, Boulder, have been working on Little Ambergris<br />

Cay to better understand how microbial mats might help<br />

stabilize sediment after a hurricane. By trapping sediment<br />

delivered by storms, mats have <strong>the</strong> potential to help<br />

islands keep pace with rising sea levels. Trower’s team is<br />

also interested in microbial mats on o<strong>the</strong>r islands in <strong>the</strong><br />

Turks & Caicos, and is exploring a potential collaboration<br />

with TCI Community College.<br />

Lingappa says that while scientists have known about<br />

microbial mats for decades, <strong>the</strong>y only recently got <strong>the</strong><br />

DNA sequencing technology to start understanding mats’<br />

inner workings. “There are so many different microbes in<br />

<strong>the</strong> mats,” she says, “and most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m, we don’t even<br />

know what <strong>the</strong>y do.” Mat research in places like Little<br />

Ambergris Cay could reveal new information on Earth’s<br />

past—and its future. a<br />

Rachel Craft is a Colorado-based writer and recovered<br />

engineer who loves all things outdoors. You can learn<br />

more about her at www.racheldelaneycraft.com.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 47

feature<br />

Folks in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are passionate about sports, and <strong>the</strong> Athlete Development Fund is a catalyst towards developing more<br />

great athletes from <strong>the</strong> country.<br />

At left: Competition is fierce at a TCISS Inter-High basketball game in Grand Turk (HJ Robinson High School versus Maranatha Academy).<br />

Above: Grace Reaston-Brown participated in <strong>the</strong> Sailing Youth World Championships in The Hague, Ne<strong>the</strong>rlands.<br />

Sporting a Glimmer <strong>of</strong> Hope<br />

Athlete Development Fund <strong>the</strong> catalyst to <strong>the</strong> future <strong>of</strong> TCI sports.<br />

By Nandina Hislop, Media and Communications Specialist, TCI Sports Commission<br />

and Jarrett Forbes, Director <strong>of</strong> Sports, TCI Sports Commission ~ Photos by Nandina Hislop<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, like many o<strong>the</strong>r Caribbean countries, is passionate about sports. South Caicos<br />

has a rich history in producing great jumpers, North Caicos is fervent about <strong>the</strong> throws, Grand Turk is<br />

known for <strong>the</strong>ir sprinters, while Providenciales has served as a hub <strong>of</strong> development for all sports. Despite<br />

limited funding, we have achieved 17 international medals in sports such as Track and Field, Swimming,<br />

Football and Golf over <strong>the</strong> past 5 years.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 49

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are a small nation made<br />

up <strong>of</strong> approximately 40,000 people, yet we audaciously<br />

go up against formidable forces like Jamaica and The<br />

Bahamas to fight for a spot on <strong>the</strong> podium. We have seen<br />

successes in <strong>the</strong> past with athletes like Delano Williams<br />

in Track and Field and more recently Kurt Rivers in Golf.<br />

However, due to our archipelago’s layout—along with<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r realities—funding, equal access to facilities, and<br />

coaching expertise continues to be a challenge.<br />

Great athletes all have similar things in common—<br />

talent, determination, support, and adequate funding.<br />

Many countries around <strong>the</strong> region are heavily supported<br />

by <strong>the</strong> Olympic Solidarity Fund along with a national sport<br />

funding system. However, <strong>the</strong> TCI currently is not an associated<br />

member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> International Olympic Committee<br />

(IOC), nor do we have a national sport funding system.<br />

We, <strong>the</strong>refore, found it important to find a way to provide<br />

additional resources to our sports organisations and<br />

athletes through <strong>the</strong> creation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Athlete Development<br />

Fund (ADF).<br />

What is <strong>the</strong> ADF?<br />

The Athlete Development Fund (ADF) was established<br />

by <strong>the</strong> TCI Sports Commission with <strong>the</strong> support <strong>of</strong> key<br />

stakeholders in <strong>the</strong> community who have an interest in<br />

youth development through sports. With funding now<br />

available, <strong>the</strong> ADF was first launched in June 2022, coinciding<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>’ first Long-Term<br />

Athlete Development Symposium. This launch sparked<br />

<strong>the</strong> partnership between <strong>the</strong> private and public sectors<br />

for sport funding.<br />

Funding is provided to eligible organisations for programming<br />

that supports long-term athlete development,<br />

with an emphasis on high-performance development.<br />

The ADF’s objectives are to:<br />

• increase opportunities to participate in quality<br />

sport activities for all Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, including<br />

under-represented groups;<br />

• increase <strong>the</strong> capacity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

sport system to systematically achieve world-class results<br />

at <strong>the</strong> highest international competitions;<br />

Above: Antwon Walkin and his mo<strong>the</strong>r Robin Cox-Foster celebrate his achievements at <strong>the</strong> Track and Field CARIFTA Games <strong>2023</strong> in The<br />

Bahamas.<br />

Opposite page: Standout basketball player Dylan Morris dunks at <strong>the</strong> TCISS Inter-High School Basketball Championships <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

50 www.timespub.tc

Team TCI participated at <strong>the</strong> CARIFTA Aquatics Championships <strong>2023</strong> in Curacao.<br />

• contribute to <strong>the</strong> provision <strong>of</strong> technical sport leadership<br />

within <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> sports system; and<br />

• advance Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>’ interests, values, and<br />

ethics in sports at home and abroad.<br />

What do <strong>the</strong> athletes think?<br />

Recently, we watched 15-year-old Love Joseph win his<br />

first regional medal at <strong>the</strong> 50th CARIFTA Games in <strong>the</strong><br />

17U Boys 3000m, after competing in <strong>the</strong> event for <strong>the</strong><br />

FIRST TIME. Love is also a basketball athlete who dedicates<br />

hours <strong>of</strong> his time perfecting his craft. He is an<br />

example <strong>of</strong> talent and determination working its magic.<br />

Joseph expressed his admiration for <strong>the</strong> programme as<br />

a flag bearer who is a potential recipient <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> funding.<br />

He conveyed, “The ADF support will enable me to<br />

concentrate better, with <strong>the</strong> assurance <strong>of</strong> financial backing.<br />

Moreover, I can participate in a greater number <strong>of</strong><br />

global meets, which helps me establish a notable name<br />

for myself on <strong>the</strong> international stage.”<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r eligible recipient, Double CARIFTA Bronze<br />

Medalist Antwon Walkin, returned home with two bronze<br />

medals this year, sparking inspiration among <strong>the</strong> TCI residents<br />

with his performance. Antwon also broke <strong>the</strong> TCI<br />

Men’s Discus Throw National Record twice in two months!<br />

He shares, “I believe <strong>the</strong> ADF is a solid concept and has<br />

<strong>the</strong> potential to help bridge <strong>the</strong> gap between <strong>the</strong> TCI and<br />

our regional comparatives in sports.”<br />

How does <strong>the</strong> ADF give support?<br />

The fund provides financial support to two key objectives:<br />

long-term athlete development and podium excellence.<br />

The concept <strong>of</strong> long-term athlete development is targeted<br />

investment throughout an athlete’s journey from<br />

grassroots to senior level, with aims <strong>of</strong> achieving podium<br />

excellence.<br />

Examples <strong>of</strong> long-term athlete development projects<br />

include:<br />

• sports training camps;<br />

• sports leagues and/or tournaments;<br />

• education <strong>of</strong> coaches and <strong>of</strong>ficials;<br />

• rental/purchase <strong>of</strong> sport equipment;<br />

• rental <strong>of</strong> sports facilities.<br />

Any registered entity in good standing with <strong>the</strong> Turks<br />

& Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Government whose function or mandate<br />

52 www.timespub.tc

is sport development is eligible to<br />

apply. This can be sports associations<br />

or clubs.<br />

Podium excellence funding supports<br />

<strong>the</strong> delivery <strong>of</strong> high-performance<br />

programmes. High-potential athletes<br />

who may enter <strong>the</strong> podium pathway<br />

on recommendation from <strong>the</strong> National<br />

Sports Governing Body can apply for<br />

this type <strong>of</strong> funding.<br />

This can be used for:<br />

• sports performance centre programming<br />

and services including sport<br />

science services;<br />

• training (including travel, meals,<br />

accommodation, and facility rental);<br />

• Competitions (including travel,<br />

meals, accommodation, facility rental,<br />

and competition fees).<br />

How do we decide<br />

who gets what?<br />

The Athlete Development Fund<br />

Committee will determine and prioritise<br />

investment strategies for sports<br />

associations, federations, clubs, and<br />

athletes to enhance sport development<br />

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

Athletes and Sport National Governing<br />

Bodies would submit <strong>the</strong> application<br />

form with all required documents to:<br />

info@tciathletedevelopmentfund.<br />

com which can be found at www.tciathletedevelopmentfund.com.<br />

How can you<br />

support <strong>the</strong> ADF?<br />

If you or your organisation is interested<br />

in supporting <strong>the</strong> Athlete Development<br />

Fund, contact us at info@tciathletedevelopmentfund.com.<br />

To learn more<br />

about <strong>the</strong> ADF, visit www.tciathletedevelopmentfund.com.<br />

a<br />

Top: Love Joseph catches his breath at <strong>the</strong> Track and Field CARIFTA Games <strong>2023</strong> in The<br />

Bahamas.<br />

Above: National Men’s Team player Kristen Howell kicks <strong>the</strong> ball at <strong>the</strong> TCISS Inter-High<br />

Football Game (Elite High School versus Clement Howell High School).<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 53

feature<br />

Opposite page: The Ashley’s Learning Centre is dedicated to trying to help as many special needs children as it can.<br />

Above: Graceway Communities works closely with ALC. Here <strong>the</strong>y brought toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> community to help refurbish <strong>the</strong> playground.<br />

Empowering ExtraOrdinary<br />

Minds<br />

The remarkable journey <strong>of</strong> Ashley’s Learning Centre.<br />

By Abigail Parnell ~ Images Courtesy Ashley’s Learning Centre<br />

Education is <strong>the</strong> cornerstone <strong>of</strong> our lives, opening doors to opportunities and a brighter future. Yet, for<br />

those with special educational needs, this path is <strong>of</strong>ten riddled with challenges due to limited resources.<br />

Ashley’s Learning Centre strives to bridge this gap and empower students with special educational needs.<br />

For eight years, <strong>the</strong> centre has stood as a symbol <strong>of</strong> hope and transformation, dedicated to nurturing<br />

and educating children with special educational needs. As <strong>the</strong> school faces uncertain times, it’s important<br />

to shed light on <strong>the</strong> invaluable service it has provided and highlight <strong>the</strong> urgent need for support.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 55

The Ashley’s Learning Centre’s story began in 2015,<br />

when Ashley, a non-verbal five year-old Turks & Caicos<br />

Islander was diagnosed with autism. Ashley’s mo<strong>the</strong>r had<br />

to pivot from her initial hopes for her daughter <strong>of</strong> a “normal<br />

life” to ensuring that her daughter could have a voice<br />

and hold onto hope. Upon realising o<strong>the</strong>r parents faced<br />

similar challenges, she united <strong>the</strong>ir resources to provide a<br />

place <strong>of</strong> support for children with, and parents <strong>of</strong>, special<br />

needs.<br />

This was <strong>the</strong> birth <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Ashley’s Learning Centre<br />

(ALC). It began with just one student and a Special Needs<br />

teacher from abroad. One student became two; two students<br />

became five; and today, in its eighth year, <strong>the</strong> ALC<br />

has 20 full-time students and six dedicated faculty members.<br />

In total, <strong>the</strong> ALC has impacted <strong>the</strong> lives <strong>of</strong> more than<br />

75 special needs children.<br />

Nurturing extraordinary minds<br />

The passion <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> teachers at ALC is what drives <strong>the</strong><br />

understanding that special needs students all have<br />

extraordinary minds. From learning how to handle a<br />

spoon for <strong>the</strong>mselves to developing <strong>the</strong> ability to speak,<br />

teachers work closely with students to instill confidence<br />

and belief in <strong>the</strong>ir capabilities. Every student has <strong>the</strong>ir own<br />

personalised education plan, known as an Individualised<br />

Education Plan (IEP). These IEPs are tailored to <strong>the</strong>ir specific<br />

needs and regularly reviewed. Teachers work as a<br />

dedicated team, collaborating with different specialists as<br />

well as with parents to create an effective learning environment.<br />

Their investment in students’ progress extends yearround,<br />

as <strong>the</strong> ALC <strong>of</strong>fers a robust summer program. This<br />

program is designed so students have continued support<br />

and structure during <strong>the</strong> summer break. Parents are also<br />

encouraged to support and reach out for support within<br />

<strong>the</strong> community which has been created and fostered<br />

around <strong>the</strong> centre.<br />

Community impact<br />

Beyond academics, <strong>the</strong> centre has hosted a Sports Day,<br />

Achievement Day, and an annual Music Concert where<br />

<strong>the</strong> children can shine, as well as garner support for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

cause. Through <strong>the</strong>ir network, <strong>the</strong> ALC has endeavored<br />

to provide an understanding <strong>of</strong> special needs and inclusive<br />

education by educating teachers throughout <strong>the</strong><br />

TCI. O<strong>the</strong>r efforts have manifested through conferences,<br />

Above from top: This ALC student and his mo<strong>the</strong>r are proud <strong>of</strong> his certificate “celebrating a million dreams” at <strong>the</strong> First Annual Achievement<br />

Day Ceremony. Regular “field” trips are part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> curriculum—on this adventure, students paid a visit to Driftwood Studio to try some<br />

painting <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir own.<br />

Opposite page from top: The annual Sports Day and Music Concert let ALC students show <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong>ir individual talents. The concert serves as<br />

a fundraiser, as well.<br />

56 www.timespub.tc

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 57

workshops, and events that cultivate understanding and<br />

empathy throughout <strong>the</strong> community.<br />

The longest established legal practice<br />

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

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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 />

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

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

The cost <strong>of</strong> compassion<br />

The cost <strong>of</strong> providing specialised education is significantly<br />

greater than mainstream education due to low<br />

teacher/pupil ratios, individualised <strong>the</strong>rapies, and technological<br />

and specialized interventions. Despite its past<br />

accomplishments, <strong>the</strong> ALC’s future can only be visualised<br />

through eyes <strong>of</strong> faith. In fact, <strong>the</strong> centre operates on a<br />

month-to-month basis.<br />

The cost to educate one child with special needs in<br />

TCI is roughly $21,000 per year ($1,750 per month).<br />

Comparatively, it costs $27,000 per year in <strong>the</strong> US. The<br />

ALC operates as a non-pr<strong>of</strong>it and has set its tuition fees<br />

at a level that is accessible for parents from varying economic<br />

backgrounds. In doing so, <strong>the</strong> centre aims to create<br />

an environment where financial obstacles do not hinder<br />

a child’s access to quality education. The ALC strongly<br />

advocates that every child has <strong>the</strong> right to access <strong>the</strong> services<br />

<strong>the</strong>y need. Every child.<br />

However, tuition from parents as well as direct government<br />

support provides for less than 30% <strong>of</strong> what is<br />

required to operate <strong>the</strong> centre. The remainder <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

approximately $430,000 annual operating cost depends<br />

on philanthropic support, aggressive fundraising, and <strong>the</strong><br />

kindness <strong>of</strong> strangers.<br />

Past philanthropic support from RUBiS in 2021 made<br />

way for a technology room to be implemented—a great<br />

addition as many special needs students are technologically<br />

inclined. The ALC’s multi-sensory room was<br />

established through <strong>the</strong> generous donations <strong>of</strong> many<br />

people, organised via a Go Fund Me campaign created<br />

by Mark Parrish and his wife Kim Mortimer. O<strong>the</strong>r generous<br />

donations resulted in <strong>the</strong> refurbishing <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> school’s<br />

playground.<br />

Any extra funds would allow for <strong>the</strong> centre to grow<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r and touch <strong>the</strong> lives <strong>of</strong> a larger number <strong>of</strong> children,<br />

to address <strong>the</strong> need. “We should not focus on <strong>the</strong> cost but<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> value <strong>of</strong> educating and bringing someone into<br />

society, who should be included,” <strong>the</strong> ALC’s Chairperson<br />

Ben Avenant explains.<br />

Upholding <strong>the</strong> right to inclusion<br />

Unfortunately, <strong>the</strong> right to be included cannot be granted<br />

to every special needs child in TCI. The centre is at full<br />

capacity with 20 full-time students. The seriousness<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> issue becomes stark when considering insights<br />

gleaned from <strong>the</strong> Special Needs Educational Policy (2015),<br />

58 www.timespub.tc

which indicates that 5% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI’s school population,<br />

which translates to around 300 or more individuals, have<br />

a special educational need.<br />

Mr. Avenant stresses <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> meeting <strong>the</strong><br />

needs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se children, as he explains that <strong>the</strong>y come<br />

in varying degrees. He points out that some children’s<br />

challenges are easy to overlook, so <strong>the</strong>y blend into mainstream<br />

education, which may lead to <strong>the</strong>m being branded<br />

as “naughty” or “mischievous.” Consequently, <strong>the</strong>y accept<br />

and internalise <strong>the</strong>se labels and, at worst, turn towards<br />

delinquency as “<strong>the</strong>y would never be able to be educated,<br />

or assessed as special needs.”<br />

He also addressed <strong>the</strong> struggles parents may face, “We<br />

have parents asking daily if we can accept <strong>the</strong>ir child.<br />

We can’t do it, so what is <strong>the</strong>ir alternative? They have<br />

nowhere to go. And time is <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> essence when children<br />

are in <strong>the</strong>ir formative years. A term without proper education<br />

can lead to a lifetime <strong>of</strong> struggle.”<br />

A plea for support<br />

It is <strong>the</strong> ALC Board <strong>of</strong> Directors’ aim to elevate <strong>the</strong> centre<br />

as a beacon <strong>of</strong> hope in Turks & Caicos and to create<br />

lasting awareness and acceptance <strong>of</strong> persons who are<br />

differently able. Future aspirations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ALC include<br />

launching life skills and music <strong>the</strong>rapy programs in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

new purpose-built classrooms, educating <strong>the</strong> public about<br />

hidden disabilities, and hosting performances by <strong>the</strong> New<br />

World Symphony to raise funds and awareness. However,<br />

to bring <strong>the</strong>se plans to fruition depends completely on<br />

sustained community support.<br />

The ALC’s strategic plans build a clear vision for <strong>the</strong><br />

future <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> school. However, in order to transform <strong>the</strong>se<br />

goals into reality, <strong>the</strong> school relies on community, stakeholder,<br />

and collaborator support. These contributions<br />

provide <strong>the</strong> necessary tools that enable <strong>the</strong> ALC to provide<br />

outstanding education and assistance to students<br />

with special needs, creating a bright and inclusive future.<br />

The ALC has always advocated for <strong>the</strong>ir cause, but now<br />

<strong>the</strong>y need your support. Your contribution, regardless <strong>of</strong><br />

size, can help secure <strong>the</strong> future <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> centre. a<br />

For more information and to support <strong>the</strong> Ashley’s<br />

Learning Centre, visit:<br />

W: www.ashleyslearningcenter.org<br />

FB: Ashley’s Learning Center<br />

IG: ashleyslearningcenter<br />

E: Chairman@ashleyslearningcenter.org—Ben Avenant<br />

To donate please visit: https://m.islehelp.net/<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 59

TMW2022.qxp_Layout 1 3/2/22 3:41 PM 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 />


60 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 />

Shown here sporting his full regalia, <strong>the</strong> late James “Bobby” Fulford was a decorated<br />

veteran, legend, and hero in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Veteran, Legend, Hero<br />

The life and times <strong>of</strong> James Edward (“Bobby”) Fulford.<br />

By Carlton & Debbie-lee Mills<br />

In March 2020, it was my distinct privilege to interview Mr. James “Bobby” Fulford as part <strong>of</strong> my research<br />

for a book I was contracted by FortisTCI to write on <strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> electricity in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Mr. Fulford, though 93 years old at <strong>the</strong> time, was quite adept as he recalled <strong>the</strong> highlights <strong>of</strong> his life and<br />

his pivotal role in <strong>the</strong> history <strong>of</strong> our country.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 61

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Bobby Fulford worked on <strong>the</strong> donkey cart delivering water to <strong>the</strong> community. Here, he recreates those early days in South Caicos.<br />

Early life<br />

Mr. James Edward Fulford, affectionately known as<br />

“Bobby” Fulford, was born in South Caicos on May 9, 1926<br />

to Herbert Adolphus Fulford and Helen Durham Fulford.<br />

He was <strong>the</strong> eldest <strong>of</strong> four children. As a boy growing up on<br />

<strong>the</strong> small island, he did <strong>the</strong> usual childhood chores such<br />

as toting water from <strong>the</strong> popular Basden Well, collecting<br />

wood for his parents to cook with, and looking after <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

domestic animals. Despite <strong>the</strong> numerous chores, Bobby<br />

still found time for fun. He used to shoot marbles, make<br />

and fly kites, play football, and spin tops with <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

neighborhood boys. He attended <strong>the</strong> government public<br />

school in South Caicos which was known as Mr. Powell’s<br />

School—named after <strong>the</strong> well-known headmaster from<br />

Jamaica.<br />

Bobby’s life took a sudden downward turn when at<br />

a very tender age, he lost his loving mo<strong>the</strong>r. Bobby was<br />

devastated but he had to focus his attention on helping<br />

his grandmo<strong>the</strong>r take care <strong>of</strong> his younger siblings. This<br />

responsibility prevented him from being able to leave<br />

South Caicos at age 12 to attend high school in Grand<br />

Turk as did most <strong>of</strong> his peers. During this era, children<br />

had to leave public primary school at <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> 14.<br />

Since Bobby could not attend secondary school in<br />

Grand Turk, on reaching this mandatory age, he left<br />

school and took his first job as a butler. His determination<br />

and fortitude were evident from this early age, as<br />

he performed his role with pride and dignity. He later<br />

became a carpenter under <strong>the</strong> guidance <strong>of</strong> his uncle Mr.<br />

Coleta Seymour, a renowned carpenter on <strong>the</strong> island.<br />

Bobby also worked on <strong>the</strong> donkey cart delivering water<br />

to <strong>the</strong> community with his faithful donkey, Brown Boy.<br />

Army life<br />

World War ll (or <strong>the</strong> Second World War as it was called)<br />

is described as <strong>the</strong> largest and most deadly conflict in<br />

human history. It involved more than 50 nations. This war<br />

was fought on land, sea, and air in nearly every part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

world. Political tensions which were spinovers after World<br />

War I were among <strong>the</strong> contributing factors to this war.<br />

It began when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939,<br />

and raged across <strong>the</strong> globe until 1945 when Japan surrendered<br />

to <strong>the</strong> United States after atomic bombs were<br />

dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> World<br />

War ll (1945), an estimated 60 to 80 million people had<br />

died, including up to 55 million civilians, and numerous<br />

cities in Europe and Asia were reduced to rubble. The<br />

Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> found <strong>the</strong>mselves engaged in this<br />

war as a result <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir colonial status with Great Britain.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> age <strong>of</strong> 16 years and without <strong>the</strong> knowledge<br />

or consent <strong>of</strong> his family, Bobby decided to enlist in <strong>the</strong><br />

army. When his grandmo<strong>the</strong>r found out, she and his uncle<br />

Richard Ellis put a stop to it. But a determined Bobby later<br />

reapplied and gained acceptance. His grandmo<strong>the</strong>r only<br />

found out on <strong>the</strong> evening when he was expected to leave<br />

for Grand Turk. It was too late for her to do anything.<br />

Bobby was <strong>of</strong>f to <strong>the</strong> serve his country in <strong>the</strong> army. Bobby<br />

was accepted on January 2, 1943 as a Private rank. He<br />

was sent <strong>of</strong>f to Jamaica for four months <strong>of</strong> training by <strong>the</strong><br />

UK 8th Army Division. Bobby described how vigorous and<br />

rough <strong>the</strong> training was. Their instructor was extremely<br />

tough which made his time in Jamaica even more difficult.<br />

Despite <strong>the</strong>se challenges, he made it through and<br />

received his first stripe.<br />

He returned to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> and was<br />

stationed at <strong>the</strong> army barrack south <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Kittina Hotel<br />

in Grand Turk. There were two camps in <strong>the</strong> barracks<br />

holding about 40 men from <strong>the</strong> TCI who had also enlisted<br />

in <strong>the</strong> army and were preparing to go overseas for active<br />

service. Bobby and <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r recruits had to return to<br />

camp by 10 PM every night when all lights were put out.<br />

This was done to avoid <strong>the</strong> possibility <strong>of</strong> German submarines<br />

lurking in <strong>the</strong> area firing on <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Bobby quickly climbed <strong>the</strong> ranks to Acting Sergeant<br />

and was placed in charge <strong>of</strong> a platoon. A part <strong>of</strong> his<br />

duties required him to keep guard at <strong>the</strong> “Lookout Point”<br />

which was located in <strong>the</strong> vicinity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> current Cable and<br />

Wireless (now FLOW) building. Bobby was eager to go<br />

abroad, but to his great disappointment <strong>the</strong> war ended<br />

before that dream became a reality.<br />

Post-Army life<br />

After World War ll came to an end, Bobby had what he<br />

referred to as a “stand down” after his three years <strong>of</strong><br />

After military training in Jamaica, Bobby returned to <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos and was stationed at <strong>the</strong> army barrack in Grand Turk.<br />

military service. Subsequently, he left <strong>the</strong> army in 1946<br />

having achieved <strong>the</strong> rank <strong>of</strong> Two Striped Full Corporal.<br />

Bobby now had a choice <strong>of</strong> whe<strong>the</strong>r to go into business<br />

or pursue a career. In 1947 at age 21, Bobby was <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

a golden opportunity to go to Jamaica to pursue fur<strong>the</strong>r<br />

studies. He attended <strong>the</strong> Industrial Garage, an affiliate <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> University <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> West Indies, where he was trained in<br />

diesel engineering. As a part <strong>of</strong> his training, he also spent<br />

time at <strong>the</strong> Webster Shipyard and Ice Factory. In 1949, he<br />

was commissioned to return to Jamaica to collect and sail<br />

home <strong>the</strong> new government vessel, <strong>the</strong> President Forth.<br />

This ship was named after <strong>the</strong> first president <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> TCI<br />

who served from 1849–1852.<br />

In 1949, he married his beautiful soulmate Anita Ariza<br />

who predeceased him by six years. This union lasted for<br />

67 years and produced four children, although he generally<br />

boasted <strong>of</strong> being <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> nine children: Monica<br />

(deceased), Joan (Dar), Annett (deceased), James (Jimbo),<br />

Gracita (Gigi), Antonio (Tony), Oswald (Whoobie), Shirley,<br />

and his adopted daughter Nekoda. James and Antonio<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 63

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

are believed to have been blessed with his electrical engineering<br />

skills, as this was <strong>the</strong> pr<strong>of</strong>essional career that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y chose.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early 1950s, <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong><br />

Government was in <strong>the</strong> process <strong>of</strong> constructing <strong>the</strong> Grand<br />

Turk Hospital. In preparation for some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> electrical<br />

works that were needed, Bobby was sent to Jamaica once<br />

again to pursue studies in electrical installation and<br />

repairs. On his return home, he and Mr. Noel Roberts,<br />

along with <strong>the</strong> Ariza bro<strong>the</strong>rs, played an instrumental<br />

role in providing electricity to that hospital. He was also<br />

responsible for servicing <strong>the</strong> Lister Blackstone Generators<br />

that provided power to <strong>the</strong> hospital.<br />

Bobby was also employed with <strong>the</strong> TCI Government<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Public Works Department as acting superintendent<br />

<strong>of</strong> maintenance, becoming superintendent in 1974.<br />

Before <strong>the</strong> island <strong>of</strong> Grand Turk had generators, <strong>the</strong> three<br />

main government establishments—<strong>the</strong> administrator’s<br />

residence (now governor’s residence), <strong>the</strong> hospital, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> dental clinic—were all powered by solar energy with<br />

<strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong> wind chargers, with <strong>the</strong> energy stored in cell<br />

batteries. It was Bobby’s job to check <strong>the</strong> levels <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

batteries daily to ensure <strong>the</strong>re was a steady flow <strong>of</strong> power<br />

to <strong>the</strong>se establishments. He retired in 1983 but continued<br />

in this maintenance role in <strong>the</strong> Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> until 1986.<br />

Church life<br />

Bobby was an ardent Anglican. He was an active member<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> auxiliaries <strong>of</strong> his church, especially <strong>the</strong> Anglican<br />

Church Men’s group, <strong>of</strong> which he was a founding member<br />

under <strong>the</strong> rectorship <strong>of</strong> Fa<strong>the</strong>r Savanas Regisford. Bobby<br />

was proud to sport his maroon jacket, which was <strong>the</strong> uniform<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> men’s group during special occasions. He<br />

received <strong>the</strong> group’s highest award on February 22, 2019<br />

for his devoted service and dedication.<br />

Social life<br />

Bobby was also an active member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Odd Fellows<br />

Eunice Lodge #3798 where he was initiated in 1946. He<br />

rose to <strong>the</strong> rank <strong>of</strong> Major General in <strong>the</strong> Second Brigade<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> American Jurisdiction. Like his maroon jacket,<br />

he wore his regalia with honour, dignity, and pride. He<br />

received <strong>the</strong> highest ranking within <strong>the</strong> Lodge and was a<br />

part <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Patriarchy. He <strong>of</strong>ten travelled to <strong>the</strong> Bi-annual<br />

Movable Conference (BMC) and installation ceremonies<br />

in Philadelphia. It was here that he received one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Bobby Fulford was an active member <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Odd Fellows Eunice Lodge<br />

beginning in 1946. He eventually received his degree and title <strong>of</strong><br />

Honorary Past Grand Master.<br />

highest honors, his degree and title <strong>of</strong> Honorary Past<br />

Grand Master from deceased Grand Master Oswald Pinder<br />

during his tenure.<br />

On October 26, 1983, ano<strong>the</strong>r proud moment<br />

occurred when Bobby was invited by <strong>the</strong> Queen <strong>of</strong> England<br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace. Here <strong>the</strong><br />

queen and <strong>the</strong> Duke <strong>of</strong> Edinburgh hosted delegates to <strong>the</strong><br />

22nd Annual Conference <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> British Commonwealth<br />

Ex-Serviceman League. While at <strong>the</strong> palace, he had <strong>the</strong><br />

distinct honour <strong>of</strong> meeting Prince Charles (now King<br />

Charles). Then-TCI Governor John Freeman also honoured<br />

him with a plaque <strong>of</strong> appreciation in recognition <strong>of</strong><br />

his dedicated service to <strong>the</strong> Crown. On July 7, 2021, <strong>the</strong><br />

First Regiment <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> named <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

recruitment camp <strong>the</strong> “Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> Regiment<br />

Camp Fulford” in Bobby’s honour.<br />

Rescue at sea<br />

Bobby fur<strong>the</strong>r shared with me <strong>the</strong> story about what<br />

occurred one day when he and <strong>the</strong> crew left on board<br />

<strong>the</strong> President Forth to go to South Caicos to pick up<br />

Administrator Wood and Assistant Administrator Willis.<br />

Prior to <strong>the</strong>ir leaving South Caicos, Sergeant Georgie<br />

Lewis asked <strong>the</strong>m if <strong>the</strong>y could take his daughter Earlie<br />

to Grand Turk so she could make her connection to<br />

Jamaica where she was accepted into nursing school.<br />

About five to six miles <strong>of</strong>f Grand Turk, <strong>the</strong> vessel developed<br />

mechanical problems. The engine later caught fire,<br />

forcing <strong>the</strong> crew to board <strong>the</strong>ir lifeboat and abandon <strong>the</strong><br />

President Forth. They had totally forgotten that Earlie was<br />

still aboard.When <strong>the</strong>y reached shore, Bobby realized that<br />

<strong>the</strong> girl was not with <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

He and John C. Williams returned to <strong>the</strong> burning vessel<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y found Earlie fast asleep below deck. Bobby<br />

recalled that <strong>the</strong> extent <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> blaze was a deterrent, but<br />

he was bent on finding <strong>the</strong> girl. John promised him, “If<br />

you die, I will die with you.’’ Before boarding <strong>the</strong> President<br />

Forth, Bobby cautioned John, “If <strong>the</strong>re is an explosion, go<br />

leave me.” They were able to rescue <strong>the</strong> little girl. As soon<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y were <strong>of</strong>f <strong>the</strong> boat, a loud explosion occurred. This<br />

was attributed to a 45-gallon drum filled with gasoline<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y had on board. This was certainly an act <strong>of</strong> bravery<br />

on <strong>the</strong> part <strong>of</strong> both men risking <strong>the</strong>ir lives to save a<br />

young girl who later became a Registered Nurse.<br />

The following Sunday, a thanksgiving service was<br />

held in gratitude that no lives were lost from that incident.<br />

Unfortunately, Bobby was never recognized or<br />

honoured for his bravery.<br />

Humility, strength, nobility, courage are terms that typically<br />

personified Bobby Fulford. He was a man who made<br />

sacrifices. He was a provider, a dedicated and committed<br />

family- and civic-minded individual.<br />

It can be said that Bobby lived an exciting and jovial<br />

life. He was fun to be around. It was when he complained<br />

<strong>of</strong> constantly feeling fatigued that a red flag regarding his<br />

health was raised. Although he had several health issues,<br />

this did not prevent him from having conversations with<br />

people. He would <strong>of</strong>ten brag that he was <strong>the</strong> oldest known<br />

man in <strong>the</strong> TCI. As his health continued to decline, he was<br />

restricted to moving around with <strong>the</strong> use <strong>of</strong> a walker. He<br />

was later confined to his home with his special seat on<br />

his s<strong>of</strong>a, where I was fortunate enough to interview him.<br />

Bobby was blessed to celebrate his 97th birthday with<br />

his family on May 9, but passed away quietly on May 27,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>.<br />

It is my view that Bobby has made a significant contribution<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>, <strong>the</strong> country that<br />

he loved and joined <strong>the</strong> army to defend. He was an honourable<br />

man. A man <strong>of</strong> integrity. He stood for principles<br />

and displayed high ethical and moral standards. There<br />

are few <strong>of</strong> his kind today. We can say beyond <strong>the</strong> shadow<br />

<strong>of</strong> a doubt, that <strong>the</strong> TCI has lost a great man. a<br />

The authors would like to acknowledge using information<br />

from <strong>the</strong> Funeral Booklet <strong>of</strong> Mr. Fulford, his son Tony, and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r family members.<br />

An exceptional man<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 65

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Island scrapbook<br />

This is a page from a 1983 issue <strong>of</strong> Current magazine, Turks & Caicos’ first periodical, published bi-monthly from<br />

June 1981 to April 1985 by W. Bly<strong>the</strong> Duncanson, who is now editor/publisher <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos Weekly News.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> time, <strong>the</strong> 70+ page magazine was <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>’ only source <strong>of</strong> news articles and features, and many pivotal<br />

moments were covered within its pages. Note below <strong>the</strong> advertisement for solar energy and a solar car, and that<br />

phone numbers only had four digits.<br />

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astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

Museum Matters<br />

Children’s club<br />

The Museum’s Children’s Club has been very active over<br />

<strong>the</strong> last few months. We held a two-week, 9 to 5 Art<br />

Camp. Children played games, created pottery, painted,<br />

participated in a scavenger hunt, drew pictures, planted<br />

seeds and watched <strong>the</strong>m grow, colored, read, napped,<br />

painted a mural on <strong>the</strong> garden water tank, and ended<br />

with beach fun day. (That’s just some <strong>of</strong> what <strong>the</strong>y did<br />

during camp!)<br />

event for <strong>the</strong> Museum. We look forward to next year<br />

being even bigger and better! a<br />

Providenciales campus<br />

• New plant identification cards have been ordered for<br />

<strong>the</strong> Heritage House Garden. The new signs should be<br />

installed by <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

We were fortunate to have special guest Michelle<br />

Taylor, from <strong>the</strong> School <strong>of</strong> Biological Sciences, University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Aberdeen, share a presentation on “Underwater eDNA<br />

and Coral Rubble Beds.” Children learned about <strong>the</strong> sea<br />

creatures that live in <strong>the</strong> coral rubble and o<strong>the</strong>r important<br />

facts about sea life.<br />

The Museum also hosted a three-day camp in conjunction<br />

with <strong>the</strong> TCI Government’s Culture Department<br />

and <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Trust. The children<br />

were treated to an island tour, Museum tour, arts and<br />

crafts, and a beach fun day. a<br />

• We are always looking for more volunteers to be able<br />

to expand opening hours at this location. Please contact<br />

Grub, grill, and good times<br />

The Museum’s annual Grub, Grill, and Good <strong>Times</strong><br />

event was held on August 5, <strong>2023</strong>. We had <strong>the</strong> best<br />

turn-out yet! Attendees enjoyed food from local vendors<br />

and live music by local band V6. The raffle winners were<br />

drawn with fantastic prizes won by many.<br />

The Museum thanks all <strong>the</strong> raffle and funding donors<br />

who helped to make this a very successful fund raising<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 67

astrolabe newsletter <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos National Museum<br />

us if you are interested in donating a day or two <strong>of</strong> your<br />

time each month. a<br />

Grand Turk campus<br />

• Progress has been made on <strong>the</strong> “People <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Island”<br />

exhibit. Banners have been hung and additional items<br />

ordered to be added by <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> year.<br />

• Do you have an upcoming celebration? The Museum’s<br />

deck is a great place to hold your birthday party,<br />

shower, or o<strong>the</strong>r event. We have made many improvements<br />

to <strong>the</strong> deck and it is available for rent for your<br />

special occasion.<br />

• The Museum continues to be <strong>the</strong> premier stop on<br />

Grand Turk land tours. Our gift shop is <strong>of</strong>ten complimented<br />

as <strong>the</strong> best on <strong>the</strong> island. Be sure to stop in and<br />

see our various new products, T-shirts, and locally made<br />

items. On-island guests continue to visit <strong>the</strong> Museum<br />

and shop and we appreciate <strong>the</strong> support from hotels<br />

and vacation rentals. a<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<br />

a ship arrives on or after 9 AM, we will open one hour<br />

after arrival for three hours.<br />

Providenciales (The Village at 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. Days and times <strong>of</strong> operation are<br />

subject to change so please check our website or email<br />

us for updated information:<br />

www.tcmuseum.org<br />

info@tcmuseum.org<br />

Story & Photos By Museum Manager Lisa Talbot<br />

68 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> April 1, <strong>2023</strong>, all COVID-19 related travel<br />

restrictions have been removed for travel to <strong>the</strong> Turks &<br />

Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>. There is no vaccine, testing, or insurance<br />

requirement. On August 12, 2022, <strong>the</strong> last day <strong>of</strong> statistics,<br />

32,338 people were vaccinated in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos<br />

against COVID-19 (at least one dose). This was approximately<br />

73% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> total population. For more information<br />

and details, visit www.visittci.com.<br />

Language<br />

English.<br />

<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 69

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 rental<br />

contracts. (Insurance is extra.) Driving is on <strong>the</strong> left-hand<br />

side <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> road, with traffic flow controlled by roundabouts<br />

at major junctions. Taxis and community cabs are<br />

abundant throughout <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> and many resorts <strong>of</strong>fer<br />

shuttle service between popular visitor areas. Scooter,<br />

motorcycle and 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 />

70 www.timespub.tc

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 Internet. Local<br />

station WIV-TV broadcasts on Channel 4 and Island EyeTV<br />

on Channel 5. There are a number <strong>of</strong> local radio stations,<br />

magazines and newspapers.<br />

Medical services<br />

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are<br />

large, modern hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales.<br />

Both hospitals <strong>of</strong>fer a full range <strong>of</strong> services including:<br />

24/7 emergency room, operating <strong>the</strong>aters, diagnostic<br />

imaging, maternity suites, dialysis suites, blood bank,<br />

physio<strong>the</strong>rapy and dentistry.<br />

In addition, several general practitioners operate in<br />

<strong>the</strong> country, and <strong>the</strong>re is a recompression chamber, along<br />

with a number <strong>of</strong> private pharmacies.<br />

Immigration<br />

A resident’s permit is required to live in <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. A<br />

work permit and business license are also required to<br />

work and/or establish a business. These are generally<br />

granted to those <strong>of</strong>fering skills, experience and qualifications<br />

not widely available on <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong>. Priority is given<br />

to enterprises that will provide employment and training<br />

for Turks & Caicos Islanders.<br />

SEE<br />

THE<br />



Ophthalmologist Dr. Sebastian Guzman is now available<br />

for consultation in <strong>the</strong> Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong>.<br />

Dr. Guzman and his team are a group <strong>of</strong> doctors<br />

representing three generations <strong>of</strong> ophthalmologists.<br />

They specialize in <strong>the</strong> diagnosis and treatment <strong>of</strong> eye<br />

diseases and those linked to <strong>the</strong> throat, nose, and<br />

ears. At MD OJOS, we have our own equipment,<br />

with all <strong>the</strong> advantages <strong>of</strong> a private clinic. We <strong>of</strong>fer<br />

a fast, complete, and comprehensive response to our<br />

patients. We are trained in <strong>the</strong> application <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

latest technological advances for <strong>the</strong> correction <strong>of</strong><br />

different visual dysfunctions.<br />


CALL 809 880 2020<br />


<strong>Times</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> <strong>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 71

Government/Legal system<br />

TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed<br />

Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam. She presides over<br />

an executive council formed by <strong>the</strong> elected local government.<br />

Hon. Charles Washington Misick is <strong>the</strong> country’s<br />

premier, leading a majority Progressive National Party<br />

(PNP) House <strong>of</strong> Assembly.<br />

The legal system is based on English Common Law<br />

and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief<br />

Magistrate, and Deputy Magistrates. Judges <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Court<br />

<strong>of</strong> Appeal visit <strong>the</strong> <strong>Islands</strong> twice a year and <strong>the</strong>re is a final<br />

Right <strong>of</strong> Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.<br />

Taxes<br />

There are currently no direct taxes on ei<strong>the</strong>r income<br />

or capital for individuals or companies. There are no<br />

exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs<br />

duties and fees, stamp duty, taxes on accommodations,<br />

restaurants, vehicle rentals, o<strong>the</strong>r services and gasoline,<br />

as well as business license fees and departure taxes.<br />

Economy<br />

Historically, TCI’s economy relied on <strong>the</strong> export <strong>of</strong> salt.<br />

Currently, tourism, <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>fshore finance industry and fishing<br />

generate <strong>the</strong> most private sector income. The <strong>Islands</strong>’<br />

main exports are lobster and conch. Practically all consumer<br />

goods and foodstuffs are imported.<br />

The Turks & Caicos <strong>Islands</strong> are recognised as an<br />

important <strong>of</strong>fshore financial centre, <strong>of</strong>fering services<br />

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 />

72 www.timespub.tc

(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 />

subscription form<br />

TIMES<br />

OF THE<br />



One year subscription<br />

$28 U.S. addresses/$32 non-U.S. addresses<br />

33 national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries and areas<br />

<strong>of</strong> historical interest. The National Trust provides trail<br />

guides to several hiking trails, as well as guided tours <strong>of</strong><br />

major historical sites. Birdwatching is superb, and <strong>the</strong>re<br />

is a guided trail on Grand Turk.<br />

There is an excellent national museum on Grand<br />

Turk, with an auxillary branch on Providenciales that<br />

includes <strong>the</strong> Caicos Heritage House. A scheduled ferry<br />

and a selection <strong>of</strong> tour operators make it easy to take day<br />

trips to <strong>the</strong> outer islands.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r land-based activities include bicycling, horseback<br />

riding and football (soccer). Personal trainers are<br />

available to motivate you, working out <strong>of</strong> several fitness<br />

centres. You will also find a variety <strong>of</strong> spa and body treatment<br />

services.<br />

Nightlife includes local bands playing island music<br />

at bars and restaurants and some nightclubs. There are<br />

two casinos on Providenciales, along with many electronic<br />

gaming parlours. Stargazing is extraordinary!<br />

Shoppers will find 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 />


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>Fall</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 73

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: 231-0262 (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 />

74 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 to what’s next.<br />


Condominium | Home & Villa | Land | New Development<br />

649.946.4474 | info@tcso<strong>the</strong>bysrealty.com | turksandcaicossir.com<br />

Venture House, Grace Bay | Resort Locations: Grace Bay Club and The Palms<br />

Each franchise is Independently Owned and Operated.

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