|Princess of a park haven for marine life|
|Written by Marsha Pardee and Kathleen Wood|
|Thursday, 04 November 2010 09:22|
TCI Protected Areas
The tourmaline blue water that embraces the beautiful cays found in the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve is a sovereign safeguard for those shorelines encompassed within.
As part of the Princess Alexandra Land and Sea National Park (PANP), these waters are a part of our Protected Area System that reigns over and rules what can happen therein. This princess of a park harbors some of the most delicate and fragile of our island ecosystems, while shouldering most of the greatest ills of our landward developments.
Her domain includes shorelines from the north end of Turtle Cove, throughout the whole of Grace Bay to points slightly beyond the western end of Water Cay extending out to the 100-metre depth mark, and the designated area that surrounds Little Water, Mangrove, Donna and Sinking Cays.
Within this undersea landscape, all sorts of wonders can be found. Beginning with the majestic mangroves that spread their leg-like limbs into the sea, one can find scads of fish and invertebrates. Well hidden within the forest of prop roots that provide protection from bigger predators, the juveniles of the marine world make their homes. The roots themselves are substrate upon which garlands of algae, tunicates and sponges grow, providing food as well as shelter.
A little further out, we encounter vast meadows of seagrasses that are often mixed with a variety of algae. Some of these algal species provide cues to baby conch and lobster, letting them know it’s the time and place to settle out of their larval forms.
Inlet areas such as the Leeward Cut and Channel are prime entry points for the young of many marine animals spawned in deeper waters. And like the mangroves, seagrass meadows provide both food and shelter for the babes of the marine world, while acting as filters from landward runoff that would otherwise contaminate our reefs .
Next we encounter isolated patch reefs and coral heads. Albeit a hazard to navigation at times, these individual reefs are kingdoms unto themselves, with every living character fulfilling a niche while providing a service in support of the little community.
Our fringing reef along the north shore differs from the North West Point reefs in that it slopes more gradually out like stepping stones to the deep. Here we found some excellent “spur and groove” formations that resemble rounded hill like structures that dip into lovely valleys and canyons.
And like North West Point reefs, much of the fringing reef along Provo’s Grace Bay (and down to Water Cay) is protected. Due to its proximity to the most densely populated area of the entire archipelago, park management and enforcement are concentrated here.
National Parks in part are set aside for public enjoyment. For the safety of the people as well as the protection of resource they come to enjoy, several rules have been ordained in the National Park Regulations.
The PANP also has established several zones where different activities are allowed to occur. There are aquatic sports, swimming and training zones that are contained between the low water mark to 100 yards offshore to protect people engaged in those activities from boaters. Specific swimming and snorkeling zones only are generally marked by a line of white floats.
Access zones are also provided in certain areas where boats may approach the shore. These lanes are 100 feet wide and extend out to 110 yards from shore and are typically demarcated by red and green buoys. There is also a water ski zone between Club Med and what is now Seven Stars which starts 100 yards from shore and extends out 1,000 yards.
All these zones, rules and regulations are not meant to dampen enthusiasm for any water activities. They are meant to provide a haven in which all can enjoy the water world in safety and with respect for the environment in which they come to play.
But even with all these safeguards in place, the marine environment continues to take a beating. Our mere human presence oiled up with tanning gels and sunscreens adversely affects the reefs, as well as the ever seeping runoff from coastal developments and their ongoing activities.
Natural erosion and accretion of sand becomes exacerbated up and down stream by creating non natural structures to hold the sand in check. Constant dredging to take away or put sand in its wrongful place further upsets the physical and biological balance of the system.
Our National Park Regulations are a thorough and very protective guide to what should and should not be done within the park boundaries. Making exceptions to the rules that govern the Protected Areas will only hasten their demise, along with the prosperity it brings us all.
The Princess Alexandra National Park is truly a princess of a park that reigns supreme over our most populated strand of sand. And due to her popularity, it makes it even more important to oblige the rules to ensure her long-lasting sovereignty.
National Park Regulations
(1) The following are prohibited within all national parks:
Prohibitions and permitted activities:
Click HERE to read other articles in the TCI Protected Areas series.
For more information on Protected Areas, visit www.environment.tc/Protected-Areas-Division.html
Marine ecologist Marsha Pardee, M.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, living here for nearly 20 years. She is a member of the government’s Scientific Authority Committee and a consultant for environmental management and aquaculture projects, working for both public and private sectors. She has taught many of the country’s children in local schools and in the DECR’s Junior Park Warden Program on Providenciales.
Terrestrial ecologist and Master Gardener Kathleen Wood, B.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, dividing her time between the Turks and Caicos and North Carolina. She is the author of many publications including the book, “Flowers of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.” She has worked for the public and private sectors on many environmental projects in the Bahamas, TCI and U.S. Anyone interested in discussion on a broad range of environmental issues can follow Kathleen on her blog at www.killingmother. blogspot.com.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 04 November 2010 09:38|
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TCI Protected Areas Series
The fp is publishing a series of articles on the Turks and Caicos Islands Protected Area System to increase public awareness and respect for the beauty and value of this "beautiful by nature" country.
The authors, marine ecologist Marsha Pardee and terrestrial ecologist Kathleen Wood, are long-time TCI residents and respected scientists in their fields.
Below are links to their articles, plus related news articles, documents and laws.
- 29/7/10: Chalk Sound National Park: Beauty and ecology
- 22/7/10: Protected Areas designations and differences
- 15/7/10: Long-term prosperity vs. short-term gain
- 8/7/10: Protected Areas save environment, generate revenue
- 5/8/10: Frenchman’s Creek: Prime real estate of TCI wetlands
Related news articles
- 1/7/10: Expert report warned about encroachment on protected areas
- 8/7/10: More than 250 lots carved in Provo parks
Links to environmental documents and laws