Cayman Islands

About

The three low-lying Cayman Islands are strung along a submarine mountain ridge south of Cuba and west of Jamaica. The human population is approximately 48,000, concentrated on the largest island, Grand Cayman. Cayman Brac is the most northerly of the islands, and the only one with a plateau of slightly higher ground, and Little Cayman the smallest. The Cayman Islands are clothed in subtropical dry forests and mangrove wetlands, supporting diverse life typical of the Greater Antillean region.

The Salina Reserve, Mastic Reserve and Central Mangrove Wetland on Grand Cayman protect a wide range of pristine forest environments. The Central Mangrove Wetland is a largely pristine mangrove wetland covering approximately 3,430 ha (30% of the total area of Grand Cayman). It has an important role as a refuge for marine species, in maintaining reef biodiversity and preserving coral through aggregation of suspended materials as well as a nursery and feeding area for local reef fish.

The endangered blue iguana Cyclura lewisi, found in the dry tropical forest, made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction thanks to captive breeding & rearing, and restocking of protected habitat.  Endemic species include 30 land snails, 7 reptiles and more than 20 plants, including the ghost orchid Dendrophylax fawcettii found only in the 6 acres of woodland known as the Ironwood Forest. The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park essentially houses and protects many native plants and animals. Noteworthy bird species include: the endemic Grand Cayman thrush, Turdus ravidus (now extinct), 97% of the world population of the vitrelline warbler Dendroica vitellina, two endemic sub-species of Cuban parrot, Amazona leucocephala caymanensis and A.I hesterna, on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, respectively, and several sub-species of forest birds.

The Booby Pond Nature Reserve on Little Cayman, a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance, is home to around 20,000 red-footed boobies Sula sula. The Brac Parrot Reserve protects forest and nesting sites for Cayman Brac’s Critically Endangered parrots Amazona leucocephala hesterna.

In the marine environment, an extensive system of Marine Parks exists. Activities within these are restricted and regulated. The islands are mostly surrounded by fringing reefs enclosing shallow lagoons. The coral reefs around Little Cayman are world-renowned. There are over 360 species of fish, 37 species of coral and a variety of habitats including deep-ocean. They contain large populations of mega-fauna, including spotted eagle rays Aetobatus narinari, Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus, hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricate and green turtles Chelonia mydas, as well as several coastal and pelagic shark species including nurse sharks Ginglymostoma cirratum, lemon sharks Negaprion brevirostris, Caribbean reef sharks Carcharhinus perezi, tiger sharks Gladeocerdo cuvier, hammerhead sharks Sphyma mokarran, Oceanic whitetip sharks Carcharhinus longimanus and silky sharks Carcharhinus falciformis.

Read more about the wildlife, history and cultural heritage of all of the UK Overseas Territories in the 704 page Britain’s Treasure Islands book (CLICK HERE).

Watch 42 ‘mini-documentaries’ that explore the wildlife, cultures and history of all of the UK Overseas Territories (CLICK HERE). 

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Video

Cayman Islands – wildlife and heritage

 

Read more about the wildlife, history and cultural heritage of all of the UK Overseas Territories in the 704 page Britain’s Treasure Islands book (CLICK HERE).

Watch 42 ‘mini-documentaries’ that explore the wildlife, cultures and history of all of the UK Overseas Territories (CLICK HERE).