Research sheds light on plants and animals in The Bahamas
Published: Oct 16, 2013
FREEPORT – The Grand Bahama branch of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently held a public meeting on plant and animal life in The Bahamas. At the meeting, researchers Dr. David Steadman and Janet Franklin presented information on plants and animals based on findings in blue holes.
Quite a large group attended the meeting, and BNT Grand Bahama Branch Chairman Darius Williams, said, “This is the largest event for the year. I’m happy to see such a great turnout, and some familiar faces.”
At the meeting, Steadman focused on the animals in The Bahamas, and Franklin focused on the plants. Obviously, there are not as many species of animals on islands as there are on continents, as the animals would have had to cross oceans. However, research in Bahamian blue holes has uncovered fossils that provide evidence that a number of different species once
inhabited our islands – for example, the Cuban crocodile and the now extinct land tortoise.
Steadman thanked the BNT for having them present, and expressed his gratitude for being able to carry out his research. He added: “One of the good things about working in The Bahamas is we have so much support from governmental and non-governmental agencies. There is so much infrastructure in place to support our research, and all of that helps to make it possible.”
Steadman went on to say that the blue holes, the changes in plant and animal life and the current size of the islands in The Bahamas are all a result of changes in sea level. The islands are the smallest they’ve been in recent years because the temperature is the warmest it’s ever been. Blue holes are an excellent research point, because the chemistry of the water preserves plants and animals extremely well. Complete shells of extinct tortoises, and 54 complete or nearly complete crocodile skeletons have been found fully intact in Sawmill Sink, the blue hole in Abaco where their research has taken place.
Though the research focused on Abaco, the presenters noted that Grand Bahama probably has similar biodiversity, as they are both on the Little Bahama Bank, which was once one island. Twenty-three of the species found in Sawmill Sink no longer exist in The Bahamas.
Franklin commented on the uniqueness of The Bahamas:
“Sometimes you don’t realize what you have in your own back yard is unique to the rest of the world. For example, the curly tail lizards are running around everywhere, so you take them for granted but they’re nowhere else in the world.”
Franklin and Steadman would like to present their research on other islands; so far, they have presented in Abaco, Nassau and now Grand Bahama.