The Salt Ponds of Anegada
Home to the regal Caribbean Flamingo, the Anegada salt ponds present a fascinating and vital ecosystem for visitors, biologists, preservationists and scientists to study and explore.
A natural salt pond is basically a coastal wetland, filled with brackish (both fresh and salt) water, forming a shallow pond. The average person does not understand the significance and tremendous importance of salt ponds and the effects they have on the continuing existence of man.
Basically, were it not for the salt ponds on Anegada, or should the ponds become tainted due to human interference, the entire Reef and it's own fragile ecosystem could be destroyed in a very short period of time.
If all salt ponds (worldwide) were to disappear or be destroyed, many vital reefs would also be destroyed and all the fish that depend on those reefs would die off with them. The aggregate affect would be devastating to worldwide food sources and the existence of man would be put in grave danger.
The Flamingo Pond (seen in the aerial photo above) is the largest of four salt ponds occupying approximately one quarter of Anegada's total land mass. This very fragile and important ecosystem supports a small population of Caribbean Phoenicopterus ruber Flamingos, is a seasonal spawning area for the rare Mugil cephalus or Curry Mole Mullet fish and is an important part of the natural habitat of the critically endangered Cyclura pinguis or Anegada Rock Iguana.
The roseate flamingos were successfully reintroduced to Anegada in 1992, having been eradicated due to over hunting for food as well as their decorative plumage.
Today, hunting is not permitted and the wetlands are protected by the BVI National Parks Trust. The western salt ponds were declared a Ramsar Site
on May 10, 1999.
- The Caribbean Flamingo is the second largest of its species, often growing to 5 feet tall!
- These vertebrates do not reach sexual maturity until they are three to six years of age and generally only lay one or two eggs in a one year period after mating. Females usually only reproduce every other year.
- Flamingos frequently mate for life and both male and female take turns incubating their egg. Some males may have more than one mate.
- The Incubation period is usually about 30 days ... give or take.
- Both parents participate in training and raising their young.
- Flamingos live in mud and straw nests built on the ground.
- They often fly in a V formation.
- Their roseate colouring is due to their diet which is mostly brine shrimp. Their diets are supplemented by various types of water bugs, small sea creatures and fish.
- Flamingos are very noisy birds which produce several vocalizations including honking, growling and grunting and they also communicate using several different visual displays as well.
- They can live up to 40 years under ideal conditions and in an undisturbed habitat. Nobody knows their average life span as not enough research is available.
- Flamingo chicks are gray when born.
You can see a slight pink ring in the bottom right hand corner (north shore) of the salt pond. Those are flamingos! In the mornings, these noisy birds gather near Neptune's Treasure Hotel & Restaurant on the south side of the pond where you can see boats at Setting Point. As the sun moves ... so do the Flamingos! We didn't want to fly too low over the salt pond as we didn't want to disturb these very shy birds. Next time, I'll use a telephoto lens for a closer picture!
Three additional salt ponds are known as Red Pond, Bumber Well and Budrock Pond. Stay tuned for more photographs of these salt ponds and their residents.