Category Archives: TCI Environmental Club

Eco Update

 Image via here

It has been a very busy start to 2012!  In early January, marine biologist Lee Munson arrived in Turks and Caicos to study the impact of tourism, specifically snorkeling, on humpback whales.  This valuable research is taking place in salt cay thanks in part to Debbie of Salt Cay Divers attendance of the Wider Caribbean Mammal Conference held in Panama late last year.  You may keep posted on their findings at .saltcaydivers.blogspot.

  On January 23rd, we attended Big Blue Unlimiteds EXPO 2012 held at Opus Wine Bar and Restaurant.  We were thrilled to join many in celebrating this company’s 12th year of ecotourism as well as honoring their local eco-partners with awards and applause.  The Turks and Caicos Islands are so very fortunate to have this company that stands firmly behind their eco philosophy of combining “culture, ecology, education, and adventure” for guests ultimate experience of nature in the Turks and Caicos.  Please see the article in the tcfreepress to read more about their upcoming education program with local schools and to read the bios of the ecotourism award winners of the evening.
Rubbish from SDC on Vimeo.

  Big thanks to Big Blue instructor Wes Matweyew for making the above video encouraging everyone in the Turks and Caicos to be mindful of littering and demonstrating how lifting litter can become part of your outdoor or active lifestyle!  Thanks for being a Rubbish Runner Wes!

 Before and After photos of the restoration project

At the February TCI Environmental Club meeting we listened to guest speaker Jody Rathgeb discuss her new book Fish-Eye-Lens; fiction but based on development and it’s environmental and cultural impact on a small island.  David Stone also presented news on the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund‘s first annual cocktail party and fundraiser.  Having attended the fundraiser last Saturday night, I am happy to report the evening was a great success.  Guests were in large attendance and the auction and raffle were well supported.  We look forward to the organisations 2012 efforts to keep TCI reefs protected, healthy, and thriving.

The next TCIEC event is right around the corner, please some show your support.  There will be a much needed clean up and pruning of the Bight Park from 7am to 12noon this Saturday February 25th.  Come one, come all, and please bring along some drinking water, garden gloves, trash bags, and gardening tools if you can.

Bird Monitoring and No Plastic Picnic Saturday Oct 15th

Image from greenantilles
  At last Thursdays tci-environmental-club meeting, we discussed a few recent topics including the DECR’s  impressive collection of 8,676 native Caicos Pine seeds, the previous meetings heated debate in regards to the Invasive Causarina, and the upcoming event for this coming Saturday, October 15th.  Please join us at 7:30am at the Lower Bight Park across from the National Environmental Centre for a morning of Bird Monitoring in our wondrous-west-indian-wetlands!  The migration season has begun and several sites are bound to see a great deal of activity which will later be logged onto  An exerpt from their website below:

“Do you know of a pond, mangrove swamp or marsh nearby with waterbirds on it? If yes, we invite you to participate in our first region-wide survey of Caribbean waterbirds, the Caribbean Waterbird Census (CWC), and help us to save waterbirds and their habitats. The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) is starting a new region-wide waterbird and wetland monitoring program called the Caribbean Waterbird Census (CWC). The goal of this program is to learn more about the distribution, status, and abundance of waterbirds in the Caribbean to improve our conservation planning and management of these beautiful birds and their habitats.”
Every entry helps have a better understanding of what happens where and why,  as well as boosts our Turks and Caicos eco-tourism sector.  Please consider taking a little time this Saturday to enjoy our beautiful by nature environment and protect our species!  Welcome to anyone!  We are looking for volunteers willing to provide transportation, please call the DECR for more information.  The morning monitoring is to be followed by a NO PLASTIC PICNIC!  Please Pack-an-Eco-Friendly-Lunch (like pictured below, think reusable containers and no single use plastics) and join us at 12noon at the Lower Bight Park picnic area.
Image from greenrightnow

Beach Monitoring of Bleach Bottles

Last month I started seeing loads of bleach bottles washed up on Longbay beach.  I posted a message on the TCI Environmental Club and Rubbish Runners facebook pages, inquiring if others had been encountering the same issue.  The responses came pouring in.  I decided to take a count of the finds for the month of July.  The above photo was found my first week, tally of approximately one dozen bleach bottles, 1 vinegar bottle, and 3 unknown squeeze bottles.  As of yesterday, here is what that original list grew to:
Approximately one dozen large bleach bottles, 31 large squeeze bottles, 8 smaller sized squeeze bottles, 7 vinegar squeeze bottles, and 2 mystery squeeze bottles.  Grand total of over 50 bottles of bleach.  Frightening considering these were all removed from a small stretch, roughly 3 miles, of shoreline in Longbay.  Imagine how many must be washing up all over Providenciales?  Over Middle, North, South and the entire Turks and Caicos.  Imagine the huge quantities that must be floating up on shores all over the Caribbean.  Although the vast majority of these bottles are labeled in Spanish, there is no telling where they came from and what they were used for.  One can only hope that they were not used illegally for catching lobsters, or otherwise leached into our oceans.  Nearly ten years ago the DECR began to combat this practice locally with a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding with the SFS-CRMS.  The School of Field Studies developed a portable test kit in 2005 to be able to detect the use of bleach using a swab test (please read the entire article here).  This year the DECR implemented a delay of lobster season to September, hoping to allow stocks more time to recover from shrinking numbers over the last few years.  If these found bleach bottles are indeed being used illegally, that amendment will be virtually powerless against this awful practice.  If you find bleach bottles here in the Turks and Caicos, please contact the DECR to report your findings.

Field Guide Fridays – sneak peak

   Over the last couple of years I have gained a whole new appreciation for local flora and fauna.  With Fleur de Lys Villa there was such a steep learning curve with the landscaping, one I am very proud of having gone through and learned many lessons from.  The villa boasts a wide variety of beautiful tropical species, many chosen based on their aesthetic properties.  Some have taken root, multiplied, and flourished. Others have sadly suffered in their surroundings and slowly wilted away.  For the last week I have been in the garden every day for the first time in many months, toiling away during rain and shine.  At the end of an eight hour day, full of dirt and grime and sweat from all the labors of yard work, I plump down in the courtyard sofa and listen to the birds sing and enjoy the peace and serenity of the surroundings my hands, and many others, have put so very many hours into.  It’s a classic case of “if I knew then, what I know now.”  If I only would have found my appreciation for local species before we started building and slowly evaluated what indigenous trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers would have worked beautifully for our vision.  Do I think we could have achieved the same lush, romantic feel?  Absolutely.  It possibly just would have taken another decade for these local species to grow to great heights but I do believe they would be far more likely to be resilient to sickness and disease, acclimated to the challenging Caribbean climate, and long lasting without the constant care and attention.
   With our new project in Longbay Hills, I have vowed not to put ANY non native species into the ground (other than our fruit and vegetable garden and compost heap).  It will be a challenge but a great experiment I look forward to.  I hope others learn from our situation and take a moment to walk through the beautiful bush, stop and smell the flowers, watch the insects and animals and really appreciate this highly unique environment in which we live and/or visit.  There is no reason not to use native species in your home garden and it is an absolute crime against nature to clear cut what has taken hundreds of years for Mother Nature to nourish.  Love where you live! I would like to continue my learning and expand my appreciation, but also strongly hope to spread that knowledge and curiosity to others, thus every Field Guide Friday will feature a native plant or animal species here on Pepper and Pikey.  Stay posted!

TCI Environmental Club Outreach

With the success of our World Environment Day “day without plastic,”, the TCI Environmental Club hopes to gain some momentum with the youth with outreach activities at the schools.  Lynn Robinson started this great initiative a few weeks ago.  Today I will be talking to students at the Oseta Jolly school about the environment and what they can do to protect it.  How much do you know about the Turks and Caicos Islands environment?  Do you know how these islands were formed?  (follow the links to find out!) inaugural-post, halimeda-and-penicillus, halimeda  Do you know about our rare Tropical Dry Forest environment and why it is so special globally?  Do you know some of the plants and flowers of the Turks and Caicos Islands?  Do you know what endemic species are and what are the endemics of the T.C.I.?  How about reptiles, did you know we have many not found any other place on earth? reptilestci and Caribherp  Have you heard of Ramsar and what studies have been done here? jncc  I invite everyone to continue to learn about the environment and all the fascinating things that take place in nature.  Please take a little time this weekend to find out a little something new about your home environment.  Love where you live!