Presently uninhabited, this island has in the past been cultivated
probably fairly extensively. My observations were limited to the
eastern end of the island during the 'Strombus' Expedition.
|Behind South West Beach, the narrow flat area
between the sea and the Lagoon is covered with secondary growth,
the dominant species being
Pithicellobium and Acacia. Strangely, no Poisonwood (Metopium
toxiferum) was observed on the western end of the island.
Poisonwood has an irritant sap. which can cause a painful rash.
To the west of the Lagoon much evidence of agriculture was found,
especially the cultivation of sisal. The hills in this area have much
Lignum vitae (Guaiacum sanctum) and gum-elemi (Bursera simaruba ).
Throughout this area White Crowned Pigeons were very common, as was
evidence of their nests. The island is in fact protected under the
Wild Birds protection Act. Despite this, shell cases were commonly
||The Roseate Spoonbill is
breeding in the southern islands of the Bahamas
- mainly on Lake Rosa on Inagua.
The Lagoon is flushed by the sea in all parts and supports
extensive Thalassia (Sea Grass) beds. At the eastern end algal
reefs (with Porites ) form interesting assemblages of species.
The Southern Stingray
is common on the
grassy flats of the lagoon
Mangrove development is not extensive although the Red
Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) where found was flourishing. Black
mangrove, White Mangrove, and Buttonwood fringed the Lagoon, but were never as
predominant as they would become at higher salinities.
Several species of wading birds were present, although, scattered and
in small numbers. Nowhere was the algal mat sufficient to support
flamingos. Egret nests were seen but not in large numbers. It is
likely that only a few pairs of heron or egret nest on Little San
Salvador island. The southern coast, east of the inlet to the Lagoon
is generally high and rocky, and favoured for the nesting of marine
birds, in particular the white-tailed tropic bird and other burrowing
seabirds such as Petrels and Shearwaters. A pair of Osprey had built
their nest on one high crag, and at the time of our visit had one
well-fledged young (Fig. 9).
Right - the Lignum Vitae - National tree of the Bahamas.
The eastern end of the island was not visited, but appeared to be
mixed broadleaf coppice with Cocothrinax and Pseudophoenix palms.
Metopium toxiferum was far more in evidence in the coppice at this end
of the island. Altogether Little San Salvador Island is one of the
more unspoilt islands. Its topography is considerably more variable
than most, from the comparative1y steep hills to the Lagoon, and rocky
south-eastern shore, but above all, its appeal lies in the absence of
REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF LITTLE SAN SALVADOR ISLAND
The herpetofauna of Little San Salvador Island and adjacent islands
is mainly of Cuban origin, the exceptions being the two sub-species of
Epicrates, which owe their origin to the island of Hispaniola, and the
Eleutherodactylus planirostris, which occurs in the continental United
States. During the Wisconsin Ice Age, the island of Little San
Salvador was continuous with the islands of Eleuthera to the north,
and Cat Island to the south. Since that time geographical isolation
has resulted in the formation of sub-species of some species.
Epicrates striatus strigilatus is the boa of Eleuthera and E. s. ailutus
is the boa of Cat Island.
Eleutherodactylus p. planirostris is the frog of Eleuthera and E. p.
rogersi, the frog of Cat Island. In the case of Epicrates and
Eleutherodactylus any sub-species formed may be separate from either
Cat Island or Eleuthera forms and hence of particular interest. In
their checklist of reptiles and amphibians of the West Indies,
Schwartz et al (1977) listed only one species for Little San Salvador.
Evidently the island had been little studied. In the supplement to
their checklist published December 1978, a further six species were
added. The Strombus expedition added one more species bringing the
total to eight.
||The Bahamas Rock Iguana is
found on a number of
islands including some in the Bight of Acklins.
The Strombus expedition did not cover every part of the island, but
certainly representative habitats were covered. The species seen or
collected on the Strombus expedition are as follows.
These small Geckos live under leaf litter, particularly under the dead
fronds of Cocothrinax palms. Two species were taken both
differing considerably in coloration. Identification of these will
await expert consultation. Schwartz records S. nigropunctatus gibbus
for Little San Salvador and S. n nigropunctatus for Eleuthera
and Cat Island.
Leiocephalus carinatus hodsoni
This curly-tail lizard seems to be the most abundant species, being found in the sand dunes, on coastal rocks, and in both broadleaf coppice and
Cocothrinax and Pseudophoenix dominated vegetation.
The Bahama Bark Anole is common in the broadleaf coppice to the
eastern end of the Lagoon.
A. sagrei ordinatus - The Cuban Anole occurs in the same area as
the above species.
A. smaragdinus smaragdinus - A1though I did not observe
this species, one of the students reported seeing a "green
lizard" which could only have been this species. A. s smaragdinus
is morphologically similar to
A. carolinensis which some authors believe to be the same species.
Ameiva auberi thoracia
This large teeid lizard is fairly widely distributed throughout dunes and
coppice, but occurs nowhere in the same profusion as Leiocephalus.
Alsophus vudii vudii
The brown racer, endemic to the Bahamas, is a rear-fanged
viper, although harmless. Several of these were observed in the secondary
coppice behind South West Beach.
Eleutherodactylus planirostris This frog was collected from around a
waterhole (freshwater) in a disturbed and recently cultivated area.
Previously unrecorded from Little San Salvador, this frog may have
been introduced accidentally from Eleuthera or cat island, or more
likely, it may have been merely unobserved formerly. The sub-species
has yet to be determined.
© R. Attrill