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Diving the Reef at Night - The last rays of the setting sun are fading as our boat pulls away from the dock and heads out into Montagu bay. In a few minutes we are approaching Atholl Island and can just make out the jutting bridge of the LCT wreck at its eastern end. This is our destination, for we have come to observe the fascinating nightlife of the wreck and its shallow but beautiful  surrounding reefs.

Mermaids and Manatees - The folklore of the sea contains many references to the sighting of mermaids. The consensus of modern opinion however is that such sightings were of the manatee, one of four species of sea cow belonging to the order Sirenia. Sailors reporting mermaids must have been away from the pleasures of the port for many months indeed, for the manatee has a grey peeling skin, which is often green with algal filaments and slime, a blunt bristly muzzle, and small round eyes. 

The Conch - Meaty Mollusc - The warm shallow waters of the Bahamas Banks are ideal for the Conch. Here  they can graze on the acres of gently waving sea grass. However, the Conch was soon discovered to be a rich source of protein and has been providing food for the natives of these islands since the earliest Lucayans found their way to the islands. 

The Shark - Myth or Monster - A moment later there it was. Just feet in front of me a huge Hammerhead Shark had appeared from nowhere. It must have been almost ten feet long. The shark looked at me with its tiny black eyes and I looked back. Strangely I experienced no fear, just awe. We were simply two of our Planet's inhabitants unexpectedly face to face. Moments later the big fish flicked its tail and was gone, disappearing into the blue with phenomenal acceleration. 

Dolphins in the Bahamas - Over the last few years Dolphins have undergone a massive change in the public's perception. From mere sideshow attractions in the seventies when, as inmates of various Seaquaria they were taught to do tricks, they have today attained an almost mystical significance. Sick children are now taken to swim with Dolphins, and amazing healing powers have been claimed in the media.

The Sponge - Enigma of Nature - With the exception of the single - celled animals, the Protozoa, the sponges are the simplest animals in existence today. In fact, they are so unusual that scientists for hundreds of years were uncertain exactly what they were.

The Sea Shells of the Bahamas - The phylum Mollusca  (known as Mollusks in the USA) have been around for some 500 million years. In that time they have diversified to all habitats and range in size from the tiniest snail to the giant squids of the deepest oceans. They are have been used by mankind as food, for decoration and adornment, to make trumpets and for much more. 

Fish of the Bahamas - more than 50 photos here - The seas around the Bahama Islands offer a large variety of habitats for fish of which the tourist will only see a few. From the beaches of New Providence (Nassau) the main habitats are Seagrass beds, sand, fringing reef, deep reef and then the  drop off

The Frogfish - Nature's fast Feeder - The little fish was slowly patrolling the edge of the reef, picking at the tiny animals that form its food, when it disappeared. One second it was there, and the next, it was gone. All that remained was a disturbance in the water and a slight movement from a weed covered brown rock. The brown rock is not a rock, nor is the fluttering shrimp-like animal above it, a shrimp. 

The Angelfish - Angels of the Reef -  If ever fish could be described as photographic models then the angelfish are the stars. They pirouette and turn as they curiously examine the underwater photographer, almost posing it would seem for his lens as they swim unafraid in and out of the crevices of the reef. The angelfish are little bothered by spear fishermen intent on seeking crawfish and grouper.

Diving the 'drop-off' at Clifton - I was one of a group of six divers towed out to the drop-off from the shore behind a small boat. When we could see the deep blue of the ocean dropping away beneath us we released the towline and swam down to the edge.

The Amazing Echinoderms - Tourists will find them on the beach and in shallow waters and many of their dried skeletons will go home as souvenirs. They are the echinoderms. Next to shells and corals, these are probably the most collected and displayed of sea animals. Many homes, restaurants and stores display starfish, sand dollars or sea biscuits.

What is a Worm? - The word worm is derived from the Latin word Vermes which used to describe any kind of worm-like animal. Worms are different things to different people. To a gardener a worm is an earthworm, to a nurse a worm is a tapeworm or roundworm, and to a diver a worm is a tube-dwelling Polychaete. Generalizations, then, just do not work with regard to worms. So, what is a worm?  

Jumping the Turtle - Union Creek on the island of Inagua is nature’s research lab, seven square miles of shallow water and Mangrove swamp. The narrow creek opening is closed off from the sea by a wire fence and by wire cages full of rocks called gabions. The Turtles here are not fed, for there is plenty of natural food in the creek, but each year they are weighed. Union Creek is the only place in the world where data on ‘wild’ Sea Turtle growth can be regularly collected.


Cerion - a very special snail in the Bahamas - Cerion is a snail of many shapes. It varies from long and narrow to almost 'golf-ball' shaped. In the past scientists have identified some 600 species of Cerion. Stephen Jay Gould only ever found two distinct forms in the Bahamas at  one location - one large and one small. These were found on Inagua and have reinforced Gould's important evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium.

The Money Bat - Some animals and plants gain their place in folklore merely by their appearance. The Money Bat, Bat Moth or Black Witch is just one of these. A spectacular giant among moths, the Money Bat may not be seen for months or even years, and then a number may be seen in quick succession.

Rocky Raccoon - Gingerly, I pulled up first one, and then the second flap on the top of the box. The noises stopped. I peered in and there were two little black eyes peering back out of a cute black and white face. I lifted Katie under her arms so she could see inside. There was a squeal of delight as she saw the little animal in the box.

Land Crabs of the Bahamas - Crab 'n Rice is an island gourmet's favourite dish. These crabs don't live in the sea though, they live on land. The crab on the left is Cardisoma  guanhumi . It's legs spread a foot from side to side and it lives in a burrow among the Mangroves and in low-lying broadleaf coppice  where the water table is close to the surface. 

Harvesting Nature Seven shells lay abandoned on a white sand beach in the Bahamas. Each had a hole near the apex where the fisherman had opened the shell to cut the muscle and remove the animal. Each was no more than four inches long. None had a lip and all were one or two years away from maturity. 

The Bahamas Hutia - Until 1966, the Bahamas Hutia was believed to be extinct. Once common throughout the Bahama Islands, it was hunted for its meat, and preyed upon by the dogs and cats brought to the islands by the first settlers. Dr Garrett Clough who participated in the Lerner Laboratory’s spring survey cruise of 1966 to the southern Bahamas rediscovered this unique Bahamian mammal.

The Frogs of the Bahamas - It  was damp and humid on that September night in 1969. Underneath powerful arc Iights at Miami International Airport, the two large wooden packing cases were still dripping from the recent rain as they awaited loading for a flight to West End, Grand Bahama. The night insects attracted by the brilliant lights made a fine supper for the several small green frogs perched atop the crates. 

Bats and Bones - In the Cave - Towards the centre of New Providence Island, not far from Lake Killarney is one of the few caves in the Bahamas 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!

The Wildlife of Little San Salvador - Rod Attrill was a guest scientist on a cruise to the island by the schooner R/V Westward of the Sea Education Institute, Woods Hole, Mass. - this is his brief account of the general biology of the island with particular reference to the reptiles.

The Honey wagon and the Blind Cave FishThe telephone call came on a Monday. It was from a Mr Joseph Rolle, and he was worried: "Attrill," he said, "you gotta see de Mermaid Pool." He sounded elderly, with a deep voice and a strong Bahamian accent. "What’s the problem then Mr Rolle," I replied, my heart sinking. "Stinkin’ waste," he said, "dat’s de problem. Someone done dropped one whole Honey Wagon full ‘a sewage in de pool".

Rediscovering the Blind Cave FishThings looked bad for the Blind cave Fish, but how bad were they? I couldn’t believe they were all dead, so I carefully studied a map of the island, looking for any other holes that might have cave fish. There were several others, but to my knowledge, no one had ever dived in them. The easiest to reach was very close to a major road junction, and on the edge of the R. M. Bailey Secondary School’s playing field. This was the first hole we would dive.

The Cicada - 17 years underground - Throughout the tropics, the hot summer nights are punctuated by the sounds of insects. From the slow rasping of crickets to the rapid chatter of cicadas the night is alive with noise. During periods of rain or greater humidity they are joined by the chorus of frogs, also at this time seeking mates. 

The Bahamas - Unique Birthplace of Land - Where did the Bahamas come from? How many of us have really considered this question? Seldom we do take time to examine such a lowly object as a piece of rock Yet this very rock upon which thousands of people live has, by its physical and chemical nature, determined the types of plants which are able to survive here. 

The Wild Horses of Abaco fight for survival - The Wild horses of Abaco have been known for as long as the Bahamas has been colonised. Until recently however, their importance was never known. Today, though, through the tireless work of one woman, the Wild Horses of Abaco are now recognised by the 'Horse of the Americas Registry' as being some of the few Spanish Barb horses remaining in existence.

Kermit the Hermit  - a Family Soldier Crab! - I couldn’t ignore such an unusual noise, so I got out of bed, switched on the light, opened the door and looked out. Just a few feet from the door, a battered old Whelk shell about three inches across was slowly making its way towards the grass. I bent to pick it up, and had my first meeting with Kermit the Hermit, a crab who continued to live on my patio for more than five years. 

The Wildlife of the Southern BahamasSouthernmost of the Bahamian Islands is Great Inagua. Sandwiched between Cuba and the Turks and Caicos Island, its salt flats and low hills spread across the peak of an isolated undersea mountain rising almost 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) from the ocean floor. The terrain of Inagua is harsh. With little freshwater, low rainfall, and constant trade winds, only the hardiest vegetation can survive. Yet it is these very factors that have brought comparative prosperity to the island. 

The Origins of Bahamian WildlifeThe wildlife species of the Bahamas are very much a mix of those from Florida, from Cuba and from Central America. Visitors from Georgia will recognise the familiar Mocking Bird, but will find the Smooth-Billed Ani a total stranger. Similarly in the winter months Canadian visitors will see many familiar Warblers on their migratory routes through the islands to South and Central America.

The Snakes of the Bahamas - Anyone visiting the tropics must expect to find snakes, for the closer one goes to the equator, the greater the number of snake species are found. There is of course a very good reason for this. Snakes are said to be ‘cold – blooded’. However this is not quite true. 

Living with the Serpent - People may dislike certain animals for a very good reason. Too often though there is no valid reason. They may dislike the animal simply because they heard it was nasty when they were very small! Generally if animals are soft, warm and furry and have big eyes, people like them. If animals are scaly with no legs, or hairy with many legs people don't like them.

Ants - Small but Mighty - Most of us don’t think Ants are very useful and some people even put down ant poison in their gardens to kill them. The truth is that ants are an important part of Nature’s rubbish collection and recycling teams. They wander around our gardens scavenging for dead insects and bits of old food to take back to their nests. They are very tidy little animals.


Peter the Pigeon - His life began on a tiny island called Green Cay just a few miles away from the very much bigger island of Andros. Peter the Pigeon - as we shall call him, was a White Crowned Pigeon, a species of bird found from Florida in the north down to parts of South America.

Saving the Parrots - I waited at ‘Arrivals’ for the plane to come in. One of the first people off the plane was carrying a cardboard box. People turned to stare as he came through the glass doors into the lobby, and there was no doubt he was carrying the Parrots. They were making the loudest screeching noise. Conversation stopped as dozens of waiting passengers wondered what could possibly be in the box. 

The Status and Conservation of the Bahamas Amazon - This article was written by Rod Attrill for the ICBP Parrot working group in Saint Lucia 1980 and appears in their proceedings 'The Conservation of New World Parrots'.

Knowing Nassau's Birds - Today more and more people are becoming aware of birds, as of course they are of all forms of wildlife. In the Bahamas, birds and other forms of wildlife have historically been largely thought of in terms of exploitation, and unfortunately, many still are. 


Bush tea is Ready -  'Over the Hill' in Nassau is the back of town, an area of wooden shacks, bare dirt yards and barefoot children. There are numerous churches, just as many liquor stores, and even more bars. One ramshackle old wooden hut stood out from the others though, but that was only because of the big sign saying 'Bush Tea is Ready'. I often drove past the hut, read the sign, and wondered what went on inside.

Beware the Beauty - poisonous plants - Nassau is famous for its flowering plants and trees, many of which originate from the four corners of the earth. Beautiful as many of these plants are, a surprising number are highly poisonous. In my garden in Nassau I counted six plants that could cause severe poisoning if parts of the plant were eaten!

The Air-plants of the BahamasThe Bahamas largest Bromeliad Is T. utriculata (left) whose leaves may be in excess of two feet long. Its large rosettes occur singly in many habitats.

In the Pines - The Coontie - As life has changed on our planet over millions of years, so new species have arrived and others have died out. In the long term, Nature is very much into replacing the old with the new in its method of constant refinement and adjustment to environmental changes known as evolution. Just occasionally though a species survives for longer than we might expect. One of these species in the Bahamas is the Coontie (Zamia pumila).


The Fire ship - I first read about the Fire Ship in the Nassau library. In an old and dusty book, I learned how the new Governor Woodes Rogers from England had come to ‘Providence Island’ to drive out the pirates in 1718. Many of the pirates left before he arrived, but one stayed. The ship of the pirate captain Charles Vane was still in the harbour as the English ships sailed in.

Blackbeard's Bottle - The night was dark, the warm sea air pungent with the scent of wood smoke and food cooking over hot charcoal. A hundred yards from the shore, the three-master gently rocked at her mooring in the great harbour of Providence Island. Above her bare masts, the dark velvet of the cloudless sky was studded with the countless stars of the tropical night.

An Amazing UFO in the Bahamas - The lights came from the south west, bisecting the night sky with a spectacular display; a display like nothing witnessed since February 9th, 1913. Then they were called "Cyrillids", after the feast day of St Cyril of Alexandria - the day on which the lights were first seen. 

Excavation of the Wylly plantation house 'Tusculum' - William Wylly, Attorney General of the Bahamas purchased the Tusculum Plantation in the west of New Providence Island in 1791. On April 28th, 1986, the land with the remains of the buildings were bulldozed for residential building.

Links to useful Bahamian websites