BAHAMAS, San Salvador - 2011
Construction of an iguana 'head start' facility.†
A small island in the Bahamas, San Salvador contains diverse marine and terrestrial habitats that are home to many native species, several of which are threatened. With a population of just 1,000, the island's inhabitants include several local groups that are seeking to boost conservation efforts in the area. Seacology is partnering with these groups to fund an iguana head-starting facility to protect the endemic San Salvador iguana, a globally endangered reptile with only 500 individuals remaining in the wild. This colorful iguana is typically orange to brown in color and boasts a crest of spiny scales down its back. Extensive habitat destruction on San Salvador has put the iguana's population at grave risk. These iguanas are vital in keeping island mosquito populations in check, which grow rampant and often debilitating in their absence. They also serve a critical purpose in island plant restoration as seeds are randomly dropped from their waste.
Seacology's project will provide a safe facility for breeding these endangered species, which will then be released into the wild with the native populations. Once constructed, the facility will be jointly managed by the Gerace Research Centre (GRC), operated by the College of the Bahamas, as well as several other local organizations. Such a facility will also provide valuable educational opportunities for local youth and adults, as well as encouraging increased tourism. The local community is environmentally conscious and extremely supportive of the iguana facility. Seacology will be funding the initial construction costs of the facility, which is expected to be self-sustaining in the long term.
UPDATE May 2012 - After delays due to hurricanes, the layout and design for the structures were complete last fall and actual construction of the pens began in January. The main exhibition and education iguana pen, which was designed not just for breeding iguanas but also for the public to enjoy, is now completed. Two students from Loma Linda University traveled to San Salvador to assist. Supplies have been ordered to build the additional wire/lumber enclosures for the juvenile iguanas. The grand opening took place on May 9th to coincide with Seacology's dive trip to the Bahamas.