The amazing sea birds of Dominica

Magnificent frigatebird

This charming account of an environmental/history centered cruise around Dominica with Lennox Honychurch as a guide by Dr. Sam Christian appeared in theDominica.net.

I just came back from an amazing boat ride! Wish you were there! My trip was kindly arranged by my former Wesley High School student/Headgirl, Cora Richards and her most efficient friend in Forestry Division, Jacqueline Andre.

I’m rather indebted to them as, for whatever reason, I had not heard about it. Why did it make such an impact on me? Well, if you get a chance next year, you don’t want to miss because you will find out for yourself.

See James Arlington’s book on the Sea birds of Dominica.

I was torn between that and the continuing medical conference at Fort Young hotel today. Turned out to be an excellent choice since the free ride sponsored by Forestry happens only once a year. The experience could be easily priced at $100 at the very least.

For those not too familiar with Dominica, the transition from the calm Caribbean Sea to the very rough the Atlantic Ocean south of the island was most dramatic. What a roller coaster! We all got splashed and that was a lot of fun.

From the capital Roseau, we went on a fabulous Anchorage Hotel catamaran all the way round to Grandbay to the remote, desolate Pointe des Foux, (the point of land of ‘mad people’) where huge numbers of the endemic sea birds nest. (see the map in the PDF attachment).

We passed the narrow Scott’s Head isthmus where June and the boys had experienced the different kinds of waters on our previous visit home. We passed the picturesque Souffriere church; the Champaigne dive sites where the volcanic geothermal underwater vents give snorkelers and divers a unique bubbly experience in the crystal clear aquamarine matrix.

We were entertained by a school (or a pod? we argued that) of playful dolphins and witnessed a number of turtles, none mating though, like they saw on previous trips.

Dr. Lennox Honeychurch gave a historical and geological perspective of different landmarks. Among them he mentioned Solomon, the landslide that killed a magistrate in the1920’s. This of course, gave rise to the iconic carnival song,Solomon roulay; si nou mort nou mort nanay sala!

He pointed out the spot where pre-Columbian Kalinago men threw their unfaithful wives over a cliff (the men themselves could be as unfaithful as they wanted). Needless to say, this sparked an animated debate among the passengers which the captain wisely settled the matter by interjecting, “If there’s any tossing done today, it would have to be by the women!”

Furthermore, the event was characterized by exceptional customer service and professionalism. The environmentalist ethic was at the level imaginable. Besides the strong local turn-out, (129 in all, lots of kids and youth) there were several visitors including a Phd candidate from Indianapolis teaching a semester on biodiversity at the State College.

A young man from the London zoo working on a project to save the crapaud (Dominica’s large edible national ‘Mountain Chicken’ frogs) from extinction and students from the Carolinas (Clemson) doing research on Veo (our edible river snails) at the Springfield consortium of American universities tropical research center which has a relationship with the DAAS, Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Their biology professor is a limnologist, expert in fresh water lakes and rivers – had never heard the term before; probably our environmentalist Hilo and others have.

Well, like so many of the kids, I got to be captain for a moment; a bearded Lennox stands behind me in the attached photo. The video gives a feel of how seriously windy and choppy it got once we got to the Atlantic side. You know me, I couldn’t resist getting on the intercom and expressing my heartfelt appreciation to Forestry, Lennox and Anchorage for all their good work and reminding all to continue doing their part for the upcoming World Ocean Day on June 8th: theoceanproject.org/worldoceansday

Best of all, an insightful powerpoint presentation was made by my former Dominica Grammar School prefect Arlington James, who was so kind to forward me his presentation within hours of of docking. What a guy! By the way, the link disappears in 30 days so may I suggest downloading it now for future reference. You’ll be blown away by what you will learn.

Even though you may not be into birds, you will definitely come across environmentally-minded nature-lovers who would go ga-ga about this info and be motivated to come pay us a visit. This stuff is priceless and we need all the help we can get. The file is ‘heavy’ and is be best sent via the free YouSendit file delivery service (through the kink below). I’ve attached it anyway in the standard fashion.

For the original report go to http://www.thedominican.net/2013/05/sea-birds-of-dominica.html

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