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Little Cay in the British Virgin Islands

Little_Cay Little Cay in the BVI
Hidden behind the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport is the tiny and seemingly insignificant Little Cay. If truth be told, this cay is actually a very significant part of the Beef Island ecosystem. The cay and surrounding area actually have almost all the ingredients required for a mini ecosystem unto itself.

In fact, this little area is almost the poster child for man's peaceful coexistence with nature and is a fascinating place to explore. Bring your mask, fins and snorkel and get right up into that lagoon area, up by the mangroves, north of the cay. It can be cloudy at times if there has been any wave action or a rain storm in the previous 24 to 48 hours, but when it's clear ... be prepared to be amazed! It's places like this that make me wish I had an underwater camera.

I won't spoil the surprise by telling you what you'll find, but if you know anything about mangroves and the very important roll they play in nature, you should know what to expect.

There's also a small salt pond on Beef Island, directly behind the lagoon which helps filter out the sediments and runoff from the surrounding area. This is a very cool spot which more often than not goes unnoticed and unappreciated by most. In fact, I have only ever seen two other people here on one occasion many years ago, which is probably why it is still so special.

You may want to anchor in Well Bay and dinghy around to Little Cay. I haven't been here in years, but I imagine it hasn't changed much.

Little Cay and the mangrove stand located here, is the perfect example of how mother nature creates land out of virtually nothing substantive. Wave action and storms wash sand, stones, rocks and debris up from the sea bottom to create a sand bar. Mangrove seed pods floating by are deposited in the sand by wave action. They root and grow.

Over time, dead leaves and dead wood from the trees decompose, creating mulch which mixes with the sand and eventually becomes soil which is spread across the sand bar. In no time at all (geologically speaking) ... you have a new island or peninsula! If left alone, the lagoon seen in the photo above will likely (at some point in the future) join together with the small salt pond, becoming a larger and much more efficient salt pond and the mangroves will slowly grow further out to sea, creating even more land.

Mother nature is an awesome thing and mangroves are a critical part of the Caribbean ecosystem. :)

Last updated: Jan 5th 2015
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