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Tobago Cays


Steve Newman writes about the balancing act between tourism and wildlife in the stunning Tobago Cays in the Caribbean.

The Tobago Cays are recognized as the "jewel in the crown" for marine tourism in the Southern Grenadines of the Caribbean. The Cays form an archipelago comprising of five small uninhabited islands and are the key elements of the Tobago Cays Marine Park, a national park and wildlife preserve established by the Government of St.Vincent & the Grenadines to protect, conserve and improve the natural resources of the site. The park is made up of a 1,400 acre sand-bottom lagoon which encompasses four uninhabited cays and the 4 km Horseshoe Reef. Although the Cays are uninhabited unfortunately this very uniqueness puts them under threat as they are one of best known and most popular tourist destinations in the region Major users of the area include cruise ships bringing an estimated 10,000 visitors a year as well as yachts and day charters from nearby resorts and hotels. The local people are not slow to latch on to this and many set up stalls with the traditionally mass produced items you can see anywhere in the region and offer barbecues with lobsters and other foods to the visitors. Iguanas are found in the undergrowth along with plastic bags and other remnants of the beach barbecues and the number of Caribbean Blackbirds feasting on the crumbs left on the permanent wooden tables and benches after the tourists depart amply shows their species scavenging ability. For all that the marine life is excellent here with high percentages of brain coral whilst brown pelicans can be seen constantly fishing around. Historically the Cays supported a local fishing industry, giving a source of income and employment. However there is no doubt that over exposure from the tourism and fishing industries has damaged the local resources. To sustain the jobs and other opportunities for the local population and their children, it is imperative that the natural beauty and biodiversity of this unique and still relatively unspoiled area should be protected and preserved for future generations.

055892 - Eco cruising in the   Windwood Islands - Windwood   Islands
055886 - Brown Pelicans on   driftwood - St Vincent and   The Grenadines
055885 - Local girl selling   eco jewellery - Windwood   Islands
055890 - Looking at conch   shells - Windward Islands
055891 - Tourists landing on   beach - Windwood Islands
055883 - The Tobago Cays -   The Grenadines

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