June 03, 2008 | Comments 0

The Animals of Inagua

inaguaInagua is an anagram for “Iguana”, an animal that is indigenous to the island: the iguana. Inagua is actually made up of two different islands: Great and Little Inagua. The Inagua’s are a naturalist’s paradise and Great Inagua has been called the “great outback” or “wild west”. The traveler who is interested in something more than resorts, golf and shopping will find this a wonderful and unusual place to visit. Rare birds and reptiles thrive; wild donkeys and cows ramble and wild boar are chased and hunted for food and sport. The principal forms of recreation are the usual snorkeling, diving, swimming, however, walking and communing with nature are what this island is best for. And for those who like photography, you will find many wonderful opportunities to photograph rare birds in their natural habitat.

Little Inagua was designated a national park by the Bahaman government in 2002. It is the largest uninhabited island in the wider Caribbean and exists in a remote, naturally undisturbed state. It is a documented location for the nesting of endangered sea turtle species. The waters surrounding Little Inagua contribute eggs, larvae and sub-adults that are swept into the remaining Bahaman marine waters for the fisheries. The approximate area of this island is 31,000 acres (not including surrounding marine areas). The park designation of the marine area is 100 fathoms, which increases protection for the fisheries’ replenishment purposes. This island is covered in a vast reef apron, which keeps boats from getting too close.

Inagua is the source of a different sort of treasure: salt. In the days before refrigeration, salt became a very important staple and vessels stopped there regularly to purchase this commodity. As a result, Matthew Town became an important trading post. Salt is the only major industry on the island and most of the Inaguans work in the business today. It provides for them comfortable living conditions. The Morton Salt Company produces about a thousand pounds of salt per year here, second largest solar saline operation in North America. Chances are good that the salt you use will have come from Inagua.

The Inagua National Park is home to more than 80,000 West Indian Flamingos, the national bird of the Bahamas. During the 1950’s it was thought that these beautiful birds might become extinct because their numbers were dwindling, however, with the creation of the Bahamas National Trust, the appointment of park wardens and the National Audubon Society, they have flourished. These flamingos are still an endangered species and under the Bahamas Wild Bird Protection Act, it is illegal to harm or capture these stately birds. Other exotic birds on the island include pelicans, herons, egrets, Bahama pintail ducks and Bahama parrots. If it is nature you want at its most “natural” state, The Inaguas are the place to visit.

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