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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (The Bahamas)

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (The Bahamas)

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 21:23
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The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a protected area in the Bahamas. The protected area extends from Shroud Cay in the north to Bell Cay in the south, including many islands, islets, and cays in between. It was established to preserve the many underwater reefs and uninhabited cays for exploration.

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a protected area, established in 1958, covering a 176 square mile stretch of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. The protected area extends from Shroud Cay in the north to Bell Cay in the south, including many islands, islets, and cays in between. It was established to preserve the many underwater reefs and uninhabited cays for exploration.

The vegetation consists of mangrove communities, with the east sides being clad in low scrub and the western sides with taller scrub. There are many epiphytic orchids and bromeliads.

The rare Bahamian hutia is the only terrestrial mammal native to the Bahamas and was introduced into the park in 1973. There are a number of seabirds that nest in the park, including Audubon's shearwater, white-tailed tropicbird, brown noddy and six species of terns (bridled, least, roseate, royal, sandwich and sooty).

The endangered Allen Cays rock iguana {Cyclura cychlura inornata) is found on several islands in the Exumas. The coral reefs, marine invertebrates and many species of fish are also noteworthy. Overfishing has caused many commercial species to show large declines, but the Exuma Land and Sea Park still has a healthy breeding population of conch, grouper and lobster.

In 1985, the Bahamas National Trust took a bold conservation stance: the Exuma Park was made a protected replenishment zone. All fishing is prohibited within the boundaries of the park. Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), also known as fishhawks, are the only creatures allowed to fish in the park.

The benefits of this initiative are far-reaching. There is evidence that more marine species are reaching adulthood and are restocking areas outside the park boundaries.

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park's headquarters are on the island of Warderick Wells. The island is a popular spot for cruising sailboats and yachts to stop and spend the night in one of three anchorages. There are several nature trails on the island, including one to Boo Boo Hill that offers a spectacular view of the island, anchorage and Exuma Sound.