Nature – Abundant Diversity
Whether you arrive by air or cruise in at sea level, your first impression of The Bahamas will be the striking beauty of the country’s many ocean blues. Smooth gradients capture every shade imaginable, while the contrasts between coral white, aquamarine, and navy serve as depth monitors for the open ocean, shallows, and coastline. The Bahamas is less than twenty percent the size of the state of Florida, but it has more than twice the coastline. It is no coincidence that wildlife, terrestrial ecosystems and other faces of The Bahamas have been overshadowed by the appeal of white sand beaches.
But there is beauty in abundance beyond “sun, sand and sea.” The Bahamas is ecologically diverse with dozens of land and sea parks to preserve its natural heritage. Healthy populations of catch-and-release bonefish roam the shallow flats of the Great Bahama Bank. Fragrant pine and coppice forests spread across the interior; so do cave systems of cultural and ecological significance. Cocoplums, seagrapes, and other wild berries cover the forests where rock iguanas and crabs feast. Wetlands of every size are bordered by red, white, black and buttonwood mangroves. They serve as bird sanctuaries and nurseries for marine animals.
There is also the open ocean. World class deep sea fishing draws the best competitive anglers. The Bahamas boasts some fifty world-record catches of species like mackerel, blue and white marlin, and sailfish. The world’s third largest fringing barrier reef attracts recreational divers as well as professionals. Pro or amateur, they all go for the Tongue of the Ocean, a deep underwater cavern with a dramatic drop off.
-Noelle Nicolls, Journalist, Publisher, “The Domestic Tourist”
“Inagua is home to more than 80,000 flamingos, the national bird of The Bahamas. In addition to flamingos, some 140 species of native and migratory birds fly over Inagua. The island produces more than 1.3 million tonnes of salt a year at the Morton Salt Factory. Just as you might see a sand dune, you’ll see heaps of salt in Inagua. Salt factory visits are encouraged. We have a unique method of fishing we call striking. You walk in shin-deep water at low tide looking for box fish. They change colours with the sunlight and the movement of the clouds. When you see one, you stick it with your striking pole. It is one of the sweetest tasting fish in all the sea.”
-Allan Clare Sr., Former Island Administrator
“We cherish our land crabs in Andros, the way they walk and the way they taste. When it rains, crabs start crawling. After the rain subsides they come out of their holes searching for food. At night hunters head for the bush, armed with flashlights and crocus sacks looking for light reflections on the beady eyes of the crabs. Skilled hunters stick their bare arms into a crab hole for a catch. In Andros, crab is on the menu in many forms. Bahamians love to eat it steamed with rice or baked in dough. Every June we stage a festival celebrating crab cuisine. Likewise, a reserve in central Andros serves to ensure a sustainable crab population for future generations.”
-Shanta Kenderia Brown, Local Tourism Expert
“In the Great Bahama Bank and the Atlantic waters surrounding Eleuthera, green sea turtles inhabit the sea-grass beds, bonefish roam the sandy flats and dolphins and whales live and migrate through the open water. Land lovers explore the subterranean caves that serve as home to native bat populations. And they observe the rare Piping Plover along the sandy shores, and the famous Kirtland's Warbler during its winter migration to South Eleuthera. Discovering native orchids and bromeliads at The Levy Native Plant Preserve in Governor’s Harbour rounds out the Eleuthera experience.”
-Mark Daniels, Park Warden, Bahamas National Trust/Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve