the centre of New Providence Island, not far from Lake Killarney
is one of the few caves near Nassau that hasn’t been filled with
water. Not many people know it’s there and even fewer want to go
in. The cave is full of Bats!
Most Bats eat insects, one or
two scoop up tiny fish from the water and some eat fruit. Only one -
the Vampire Bat, sucks blood. Almost all Bats are completely harmless
to people, but many don’t, or won’t, believe that.
We entered the cave on a hot and
sticky summer day. The temperature was in the nineties and we wore tee
shirts and shorts. Entering the cave, we switched on our torches and
moved forward into the darkness. The further we went, the cooler it
became. Soon we felt as if we were in a ‘fridge, or an
air-conditioned room. It is said the temperature deep in a cave never changes. That is
why the French wine makers keep their wines in caves.
Every so often there was a faint
fluttering sound as disturbed Bats flew past our heads. Before us now
was a huge vertical column reaching from the ceiling to the floor. It
was the root of a giant Fig Tree growing above us on the hill. Past
the root, the cave became wider and the ceiling higher. Shining our
torches up, we saw hundreds of Bats hanging from the rock. They
twisted to look at us, some flexing their wings as they prepared to
take flight. A few let go their hold and flew around the cave in
circles. Aiming my camera upwards I took several flash photographs.
There was no way I could focus in the darkness, I just hoped some Bats
would be in the right place at the right time! Fortunately - as I
later discovered, some were.
camera upwards I took several flash photographs.
There was no way I
could focus in the darkness, I just hoped
some Bats would be in the
right place at the right time.
Luckily, one was!
There was a rattling sound as my
foot knocked against something on the floor. I shone the light down
and saw some bones. They were very old, and could have been human! One
of them certainly seemed to be a human thighbone. We searched around
for the skull, but there was none, no animal skull and no human skull.
We were none the wiser.
Below us, on the ground, and
growing from the thick layer of Bat manure were hundreds of thin white
seedlings. These had grown from seeds eaten by the Bats, and that had
passed through their digestive systems intact. In the darkness of the
cave they would only grow a few inches before dying from lack of
light. They had no hope of growing any bigger.
There were other living things
in the cave too. There were big centipedes and hundreds of cockroaches
scuttling about on the ground and on the bare rock. Many of them would
provide sustenance for the biggest of them all.
crevice of the rock was one of the biggest Chicken Snakes I have
ever seen, thicker than my arm and probably eight or nine feet
long. The snake clearly thrived on Bats - babies and dead adults
falling from the ceiling. Here was a predator whose food
literally fell in front of him. What an easy life he must have
It was obvious that a whole
population of animals lived in the cave, supported entirely by the
Bats and the food they brought in to the cave. We found the evidence
of human occupation too. There were carvings of initials in the rock,
some with dates going back a hundred and fifty years.
Our torches were flickering. It
was time to return to the world outside the cave. As we turned to go,
there was some sort of disturbance and we were instantly surrounded by
hundreds of flying Bats. They flew so close we could feel the draught
from their wings. We stood still, waiting for them to settle down
again. We knew the Bats would avoid us by using their sensitive sonar
systems, their big ears catching echoes from high-pitched squeaks.
We passed the pile of old bones
and thought about taking a few to the police for forensic tests. In
the end we decided to leave them. They seemed to belong in such a
The bones are probably still
lying there to this day. Only the Bats would know how they got there
all those years ago, and they’re not talking!