We had an amazing and productive day exploring new territory in the wild wetlands of North Caicos on Tuesday. Big Blue’s local kite phenom Hope Le Vin is back from the UK celebrating her graduation with friends and was up for an adventure. Tuesday’s tides were ideal so we set off just before lunch with a full complement of kayaks strapped to the sides and roof of the boat. We had planned a trip into a previously unexplored area and we were keen to connect as many of the main channels as possible. That we did and more, and further than anticipated. After approximately 3-hours of paddling down countless mangrove channels, dead-ends and long meandering detours we completed a 4-mile loop through the mangrove labyrinth Good job girls, what a great day.
Brendan shares an epic downwinder with guides Wes and Philip.
Wes edits bits and pieces of Big Blue life into a great little skit!
Mark and Philip were joined by an old friend and long time Big Blue client, Andy and sneaked out on the Natural Mystic to find some new SUP and Kayak territory close to home. The fact is we hit bull’s eye! New and extended range trips coming soon. We are super stoked to find this new stash. Keep an eye out for our new trips.
Mark spent a long weekend over in South Caicos exploring new kayaking heaven. Miles and miles of channels and mangroves deep into the heart of East Caicos. Watch this space for more information. Very exciting indeed!
The Big Blue Expo 2012 was the perfect start to our year. Our event was held at the OPUS bar and grill. The Expo showcasing our team and products and our BIG BLUE SHORT FILM, it was well attended by our friends and partners through the islands and across the tourist sector. Prizes for contributions towards ECOTOURISM were awarded to our unsuspecting partners from the sister islands of North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Parrot Cay. Susan Butterfield, Lawrence “Big Mac” Campbell, Cardinal Arthur, Danny Forbes & Sara Kaufmann (middle co-op), JD Thomson and Parrot Cay resort and spa. Many of you who have been with us know our team up north and their awards were well earned through their hard work and dedication.
The joint expedition to assess the wetland areas of the Turks and Caicos continued through the week with visits to North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Grand Turk. Mark Parrish of Big Blue caught up with the team to help lead a trip to the vital wetland areas between South Caicos and East Caicos. Initial findings and observations were then presented to an open meeting of stakeholders and interested parties at the National Environmental Centre. Aspects of the proposal that will be submitted to the Darwin Initiative later in the year were discussed including the designation of particular wetlands as new RAMSAR sites, the ‘wise use’ of these areas, and available international cooperation for RAMSAR sites. Ralph Higgs of the TCI Tourist Board invited Wesley Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources (DECR) to a joint meeting with the TCI National Trust to assess cross department cooperation and use of resources. Dr. David Stroud suggested that the TCI might be the first country in the world to have a network of managed RAMSAR sites and explained how RAMSAR protection can be applied to mangroves, coral reefs, sea-grass beds and Karst or underground wetlands. This is set to be an ongoing project of significant importance to the environmental health of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Big Blue Unlimited has joined forces with the Turks and Caicos Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources (DECR) and together with UK partners from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT) are assessing management plans and expansion of RAMSAR sites in the TCI. Several areas across the Turks and Cacios Islands are being visited this week. Currently there is one RAMSAR site in the TCI and this comprises the wetlands and mangroves on the southern parts of North and Middle Caicos. It is hoped that a number of other sites, some already exisiting National Parks and Nature Reseves, can be lifted to the lofty status of RAMSAR protection. Successful management and stewardship of these areas by all stakeholders will help protect valuable fish and invertabrate nurseries as well as irreplaceable habitat for numerous birds including the pelican, flamingo and heron/egret families.
Adopt a Mangrove
Mother Nature and Human Nature working together – for a change.
Big Blue has set out to help the “Adopt a Mangrove” campaign in its efforts to support local conservation initiatives. It also provides an
opportunity for visitors to the Turks and Caicos to take part by donating time and money to this valuable program.
The Adopt a Mangrove Campaign is a conservation initiative to restore impacted areas and to reduce climate change by planting mangroves. It will act as a major campaign for Turks and Caicos Islands residents to unite in reducing the affects of climate change. Most importantly, community support of this endeavor will show our governing authorities and the world that the citizens of the TCI are serious about
preserving our Protected Areas, protecting our environment, and banding together to reduce climate change.
At present, there are 200 small mangroves now thriving on “Star Island” with another 200 seedlings in the nursery system being readied
for the transplant stage. For a donation of $25 you can adopt your very own mangrove and plant it on Big Blue’s Kayak Ecotour! On the guided kayak ecotour you will explore mangrove channels, learn about their ecological importance, and then stop at the planting grounds to plant your very own seedling!
Once “Adopt a Mangrove” has received your donation, you will be sent an e-certificate and your name will be added to the list of supporters. You will also have the option of receiving adopt a mangrove’s e-mail updates that will detail the annual growth and survival of our Star Island mangroves, as well as the new planting projects that they intend to undertake as the program and the mangroves grow.
For TCI residents, the adoption program can include plantings along the canal sustems and other backyard wetland areas where appropriate.
Private homeowners can protect and stabilize their waterside properties with mangroves and feel good about reducing their own
For more information please contact Big Blue at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.merangel.net/mangroves
The Big Blue kayak expedition to the eastern side of Caicos Islands at the end of November was a huge success. Despite some logistical hurdles the 3-day trip ran smoothly and an incredible amount of wildlife was recorded. Perhaps of greatest interest was the varied nature of the terrain that was explored and the long circular route that was established including a short potage.
Big Blue’s high performance Valley Sea Kayaks were shipped to South Caicos in advance of the expedition. Transport by air for the team members was provided by TCI helicopters and offered the opportunity to survey the dense network of mangroves, cays and tidal channels from above. This research proved to be immensely valuable although potential routes seen from the air can be much harder to determine from kayak level on the water. Tides also play a huge role in determining what and where you can access. The tidal range is not huge, 50cm or so on spring tides, but timing it correctly is essential.
The first day explored the small cays to the north of South Caicos and paddlers interchanged between the rougher ocean side and the sheltered leeward sides. The islands, barely solidified sand dunes, are covered in coastal plant including various palms, cacti, sea grapes and casuarinas which give way to vast colonies of red and black mangroves on the water’s edge. The ends of these cays offer some surprisingly spectacular cliffs, sweeping turquoise channels, and gorgeous sheltered beaches; perfect locations to stretch cramped legs, cool off with a swim, and enjoy a well earned picnic lunch. Almost every Cay seemed to be home to a different osprey family and associated nest.
The majority of the time was spent exploring the mangrove channels and interconnecting waterways. The bird population; herons, egrets, sandpipers, kingfishers, and flamingos, was very healthy. The fish life consisted of large schools of mojarra, baby barracuda and bonefish. The occasional juvenile lemon or nurse shark and turtle were also spotted. The most noticeable aspect of the trip was the solitude and total wilderness. There was no one around, there was no development, and the wildlife unused to seeing people. At the end of each day kayaks were left on the nearest beach and a motorboat transported the guests back to South Caicos for the night. Accommodation and memorable seafood was enjoyed overlooking the Harbour at Cox’s Hotel.
Using a GPS and photographs taken from the air a circular route through the mangroves and out to the coast on the southern tip of East Caicos was established. Another longer route via Hog Cay has been tentatively identified and partly explored. It will have to be completed on another expedition. Big Blue offers customized small group exploratory kayak expeditions throughout the Caicos Islands. Please contact Mark for more information and prices.
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