One type of experience that we describe far too seldom are encounters or even observations of animals. So today we’re just going to talk about the animals of the Caribbean.
Water animals or land animals, no matter what we encounter, we are not very squeamish. Yellow and black striped spiders, iguanas (large lizards) or green and blue hummingbirds, rays, dolphins, whales. There is a lot to marvel at.
Some animals you like to meet. Others you don’t. Dolphins are always a joy to see up close. We prefer whales from a distance. We saw a sensational whale jump off Guadeloupe and were very glad that the magnificent guy – or gal – waved his tail and dived off. When sailing, you often see flying fish. It’s amazing how far they fly across the sea. At anchor, jumping fish, i.e. fish that are hunting, are more likely to be seen. Mooring balls are also very popular as fish homes. A small triggerfish that was quite sure it was the owner of a mooring ball defended it with vehemence, including a bite to the butt. Not particularly dangerous. The brave triggerfish was about 15 cm long.
On Grenada we saw a big turtle every day. And a very specific one at that. After a while you recognise animals like people. This one had a bite on its shell. That’s what happens when a shark snaps. It was rather shy and, like all sea turtles, much faster than we were. The coolest sea turtle we found was on the Tobago Keys. I’m sure she wanted to kidnap Holger. It didn’t leave his side and when the two of them swam far out together, I once briefly showed my husband by hand signal how far away he was from the boat in the meantime. In “Les Saints “lives a pretty specimen in a ship wreck.
To describe all the beauty of the underwater world would take a separate article. The variety of underwater animals in shape and colour is overwhelming. But there is also a lot going on in the jungles of the islands. For example, there are several species of monkeys. Some are very curious and others disappear as soon as they hear a human sound. This one in the picture selfie: Holger with Mona monkey, is soft and cautious. He doesn’t cling and is as gentle as a little chick. Still a wild jungle animal.
Speaking of chicks. You first have to find roosters as beautiful as this one. Colourful, black and white spotted and always very sublime, they wander over hill and dale and are never the cock of the walk because there are so many roosters.
We got a super beautiful land tortoise from Cyrill in Canouan and immediately put it back on land, because it immediately start pooping onboard. Here in Antigua we have only seen tortoises in a breeding station. Volunteers take care of the breeding and care of different species of turtles and the last native iguanas, which were almost wiped out by invasive iguana species. The heroic helpers are happy about any donation – so whoever likes to support this valuable activity, we are happy to arrange the contact.
We haven’t seen any sea turtles in Antigua of all places. Sadly because Rike is visiting and one of her wishes is to swim with a sea turtle.
A super interesting species are the lizards. In very different sizes. From the teeny tiny gecko – which we had on board here, to one metre long bright green or striped lizards, which Henri and Hannah call dragons.
There are only a few snakes in the Caribbean. From Grenada up to the BVIs, hardly any at all. In the water, of course. But even though these things are poisonous, they don’t get their mouths open enough to bite you.
And then birds. It’s amazing how diverse and colourful the birds are here. Hummingbirds frigatebirds and pelicans are seen every day. On Barbuda there is a huge colony of frigatebirds, which is incredibly impressive and very loud. The courtship display with its bright red inflated neck is almost frightening. By the way, pelicans don’t care about us at all. They fly past the ship at a distance of 2 metres and ignore us completely. They also dive into the water right next to us to have a bite to eat.
We are very happy when we see rays. When anchoring in Carriacou, I jumped into the water to check if the anchor was secure. And suddenly it went dark above me. I turned around, got a fright and a coughing fit because a fat ray was gliding right over my head. In Antigua, we had the opportunity to swim with and even touch a whole family of rays on a reef. Rays, like octopuses, are very smart and incredibly curious. They lie down on outstretched arms without hesitation and let themselves be stroked.
“Swimming pig” doesn’t have to be a swear word. The Bahamian island of “Big Major Cay” is home of pink or pink and black spotted pigs that enjoy swimming, preferring to eat melons and poke visitors around. Unfortunately, you have to avoid the island by now, because every wacky so-called influencer races through the area on a jet ski to pose in front of the animals and take 50 selfies.
I would probably (if we were still on land) also write about deer, hedgehogs, stags or robins. I think we are animal lovers. / Karin Binz
Holger and I wish you all a happy, healthy and enjoyable new year. Stay healthy, enjoy your life and we look forward to you following our further journey.