Caribbean wildlife

Within the wonderful mix of islands that make up the Caribbean, lies one of the most varied and well-preserved ecosystems on the planet – a living tropical paradise overflowing with colour and Caribbean wildlife… from blue ‘dragons’, green monkeys, white-tailed deer, brown boobies and red howlers to chirping tree frogs, parrot fish, upside-down jellyfish, bee-sized birds and whistling ducks.

In a region rich in history this Caribbean wildlife article will help you discover a tropical paradise that houses a kaleidoscope of landscapes… just a stone’s throw away from rows of sun beds and beach bars. It’s another side to the Caribbean – the wild side – where you might spot white browed and pink muzzled monkeys in a lush rainforest; vivid marine life in multi-coloured coral reef hotspots, possibly nesting turtles on black volcanic or pink coral sand beaches. Migratory bird traffic through the region is vast, marine life is rich, and there are myriad lizards of all shapes and sizes – some slow and short-legged, others speedy and long-legged, many with sticky toe-pads that dwell in high up places.

Caribbean wildlife article paragraph on the Greater Antilles

In a setting of crystal clear waters, pristine reefs and stunning powder white sand beaches, Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands. It’s home to the giant Blue Iguana and Grand Cayman has a major conservation programme in operation to save them from extinction – breeding them in captivity and releasing them into the protected forests and gardens of the QE II Botanic Park where these magnificent iguanas roam freely. They range in colour from brown-grey to luminous blue and possess a blue dragon-like crest that runs the length of its entire body, up to almost 6ft.

Grand Cayman is consistently rated among the top five diving sites in the world for its breathtaking wall dives, shallow coral reefs and rich marine life. But it’s not necessary to dive for a surge of excitement: you can stand in 3ft of water on a sandbar in the middle of North Sound in ‘Stingray City’ to feed the southern stingrays; they will brush your legs and take titbits from your hands. Kayaking through the central mangroves, the ecological heart of Cayman, is a tranquil way to search for green turtles, upside-down jellyfish, green herons and West Indian whistling ducks; but to spot the spectacular indigenous parrots and other bird species in the wilderness, walk the Mastic Reserve trail situated towards the East End of the island.

Blessed with stunning mountains, cloud-shrouded rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls and white sand beaches, Jamaica is home to many fascinating endemic bird species: the orangequit and the Jamaican tody, greater owl, Antillean bullfinch (sub-species) and Becard, as well as the beautiful emerald green streamer-tailed hummingbird also known as the doctor bird, the national bird of Jamaica, whose whirring noise is distinctive when in flight and its high-pitched noise heard island-wide from coastal plain to mountain. Jamaica’s largest wetland area, Black River Morass, is a good birding spot where over 100 species have been sighted; and in the Rocklands bird ‘sanctuary’, a small garden near Anchovy (a three-mile taxi ride from Montego Bay), humming birds, finches and bananaquits are tame enough to be hand fed.

READ MORE about Caribbean wildlife in the different regions – the southern region, the Leeward Islands, and the Windward islands.

Caribbean wildlife article written by Travel Writer & Editor Linda Jackson