Curacao, All Inclusive (Part II), birds and animals
Updated: Apr 2, 2019
One of the many pleasures I derive from travelling, is being able to experience not only different landscapes and cultures, but also the various creatures and wildlife that call these places home. Curacao provided many such opportunities.
Curacao is a small island just off the coast of Venezuela. As such, it is among the most southerly of the Caribbean Islands and shares many characteristics of its South American neighbours, including the wildlife. In this blog, I will feature photos of some of the birds, fish and other creatures, both wild and semi-domestic, that we encountered during our stay.
These large prehistoric-looking birds are ubiquitous along the seashore. I would see them soaring gracefully over the water or clumsily trying to take off or land in the water. In the morning, I would find them swimming close to fishermen's boats with their haul hoping to scrounge bits of cast off fish parts or bait. And throughout the day, I could see them sit for hours on end on off shore wooden piles near the scuba diving boat departure dock.
Other Water loving Birds: Frigates, Ospreys and Green Herons
Of all the birds I came across, the Frigate Birds were perhaps the most majestic, and from what I witnessed, the best fishermen. Frigates would appear in our area at different times of the day. It may have coincided with those times when schools of smaller fish rose to the surface to avoid larger predators below. Frigates don't dive so much as they catch fish near or above the surface of the water (as with flying fish).
They are easily identifiable by their large wing span, pointy V-shaped tails and prominent hooked beaks which are very effective for catching and holding onto fish. Males have a red "pouch" in front which expands to attract mates.
I was also fortunate to see several Ospreys during the time we were there.
Below are photos of 2 Green Herons, one posing (left) and one stalking a crab which it caught shortly after this shot.
Unpleasant Encounters of the Bird Kind
On two separate occasions during our stay, I was the unwitting recipient of some finely processed avian fecal matter as I lay resting on my lounge chair, eyes closed and my guard completly lowered. As I lay there blissfully listening to the soft rustling of the palms, the lapping of the small waves on shore and the melodious songs of the nearby birds, I was suddenly jolted out of this state of bliss by a well targeted, creamy splash of guano that landed on the lower part of my T-shirt.
I quickly washed it off using the nearby salt water and returned to take up my idyllic reverie where I had left off. A brief 5 minutes later, I found myself back at the seashore washing off another unwelcome deposit. Yes dear reader I was shit upon two times in the space of 5 minutes. I was consoled by fellow guests who advised that this was a harbinger of good fortune. Well, I'm still waiting!
Inquiries were made but no one claimed to have witnessed anthing other than the final messy outcome. A quick look up at the branches of the tree over my chair and nearby vegetation, enabled me to establish the following rogues' gallery of probable avian suspects over which I kept a particularly close watch for the duration of my vacation to ensure that they would inflict no similar mishap on any other guests.
Group 1, from left to right: the Carib Grackle, the Grey Kingbird and Eared Dove.
Group 2, from left to right: Gull, Laughing Gull and the very interesting Bare-eyed Pigeon.
Group 3, from left to right: two Troupials (the national bird of Curacao) and two Bananaquits.
The Jan Thiel Salt Flats
Near the geographic centre of the Island of Curacao can be found an area of salt flats which attract a variety of birds and other water fowl, including the beautiful and graceful Pink Flamingo.
Curacao is a semi-arid island and the salt flats are surrounded by dry grasslands and various cacti as can be seen from the photos below.
The salt flats with Flamingos.
Below is a photo of two Flamingos in silhouette, a close up photo of a Flamingo's feathers along with a photo of a Snowy Egret (right).
The Curacao Seaquarium
The Seaquarium was built in 1984 directly on the oceanfront and a stone's throw from a healthy and vibrant coral reef.
To quote from the Curacao web site, "the aquarium complex is one of the most unique in the world because of its "open water system". Water from the open sea, which is separated from the outdoor portion of the various aquariums by a seawall, is continuously pumped and/or flows directly into the the outdoor aquariums through breaks in the seawall. This ensures that the fish and mammals that inhabit the outdoor exhibits are, in effect, in their natural environment. This is most apparent from the photos below which feature sharks and dolphins along with seals. The photo of the performing dolphin clearly shows the seawall.
Left to right: Pair of Dolphins swimming, solitary Dolphin in the aquarium and Dolphin performing in one of the open aquariums. Note the sea wall and opening leading to the open sea beyond.
Left to right: Shark swimming in outdoor aquarium and a pair of Seals doing the same.
The Iguana - A feast for the eyes and, apparently, for the palate
I liken the presence of Iguanas in Curacao to squirrels here at home. They seem to be found everywhere on the island - on the beach, in the city, in trees and in the desert.
But unlike at home (unless home is the remote mountainous region in seveal southern US states), the Iguanas are considered a culinary delicacy, although we never did partake of any form of prepared Iguana.
When asked about the taste or any other benefit of eating Iguana, the universal response that I was given is the response I have been given about eating any rare or exotic animal, which is: It tastes like chicken and it's a great aphrodisiac. I've heard that in Ecuador about roast Guinea Pig, in the US south about fried Rattlesnake or Aligator, from friends who've visited Australia about Kangaroo and Crocodile and in Newfoundland about Puffin (just kidding), just to name a few.
I found Iguanas to be beautiful and interesting creatures to observe. Here are two more photos I took of these "delectible" creatures. In the first, the Iguana is checking out the beach with its tongue while in the second, the Iguana is about to feed on a flower at the top of a palm tree about 60 feet off the ground just in front of our balcony.
Marine Life - The Snorkler
One of the most enjoyable, yet simpler pleasures of our vacation, was being able to snorkel directly in front of our beach. There was no need to leave the resort. An off-shore breakwall running the entire length of our resort and continuing beyond several nearby resorts to the east created a wonderfully protected beach. Yet, while it served to protect the beach from the rougher waters of the open sea, it did not prevent the proliferation of a varied assortment of sea creatures into this man made lagoon, which made for a wonderful snorkeling experience.
Immediately beyond the breakwall ran a lengthy stretch of coral reef which was easily accessible to snorkellers and divers alike.
The following photos are two of the many shots I took with my GoPro camera along the nearby rocky outcrop and breakwall.
In the last and final segment of this blog on Curacao, I intend to highlight the capital city, Willemstad and some other areas of this beautiful island nation that we visited.