Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Turtles, nectar feeders and some swimming

We started the day as usual with a morning swim then headed over to the Turtle Farm & Boatswains Lagoon to see the turtles.  As with any zoo like exhibit, the turtle breeding saddened me.  There is a big pond - a small lagoon - with many large green turtles in it splashing around.  It is not a nice place for a turtle that is by nature solitary and migrates thousands of miles across oceans.  Here, many live in same-age tanks and they are raised as a legal source of turtle meat which is a local traditional delicacy.
The only mitigating fact is that they release a fair number of yearling turtles each year - 31000 since 1980.  They do not have good records on the number of these turtles which survive but last year 11 were recorded returning to Cayman Island to breed.  This is not too bad since they did not do a full record of all turtles returning and they only breed when they are 20 years old.  Anyway, the kids enjoyed picking up a turtle.  Wren snorkeled in the lagoon (despite grave misgivings about water purity after the guard warned us not to swallow the water) but kept telling me he thought he had swallowed some!

You were allowed to pet the turtles in the yearling turtle ponds.  The turtles swam around and around and, after washing hands, you could carefully pick them up.  We were told that stroking a turtle under its neck could calm it down.

A highlight of our visit to the Turtle Park was the Caribbean Aviary.  In the aviary we met Arden who told us about the birds and how he used to hunt agouti in the dry forests inland.  The agouti looked cute, but they are apparently invasive like rabbits.  We bought a cup of nectar and the kids fed the bananaquit and a brilliant blue honeycreeper from Cuba/Brazil.

Josh has a bananquit on his head.

We were amazed by the blue honeycreeper 
Juvenile bananaquit

The parent and child bananquits.  The baby kept yelling at its parent
even though it is of an age to feed itself!
Tomorrow and following days are likely to be less sunny than our first four days - a thunderstorm is forecast for tomorrow, followed by overcast days with increased waves.  We are planning to explore the forest and botanic garden later in the week.


Lynn K said...

In my totally non-PC way, I'd love to pet the turtles too.

We met a couple [turtles] swimming free in Hawaii, and they are the most benevolent-seeming animals, slowly finning by without a care in the world.

Shannon said...

The thunderstorm is now delayed by a day so we have another day of sun and dappled cloud. Poor Josh - he is wishing for a day of lounging inside watching a tropical storm :)

Lynn, many people LOVE the turtle farm and it is good to know they release many. The hatchlings have a survival rate of 5% to maturity but the one year olds survive at over 90% so this is a good thing too.

We found our house online through VRBO. It is the very best place to stay. Here is our neighbor's house - booked through the same person:

Shannon said...

Our house DOES have TV and a phone and wifi :)