British government neglects overseas territories wildlife


This video is called Saving the Grand Cayman Island Iguana.

From BirdLife:

UK’s most exotic natural treasures under threat from ‘legal neglect’

Tue, Mar 19, 2013

A first-ever analysis of the environmental laws across all 14 of the UK’s Overseas Territories has been published and presented to the British Government. The report, commissioned by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), reveals serious flaws in the legislation that should protect some of the most important places for UK wildlife.

The assessment comes just nine months after the UK Government published its Overseas Territories White Paper last June. In it, the Prime Minister pledged to ‘cherish the environments’ and ‘help ensure their good government’.

The UK’s Overseas Territories hold some of the world’s most remarkable environments, from pristine tropical forests like on Grand Cayman, to windswept South Atlantic islands, home to penguins and elephant seals, as well as over 90% of the threatened wildlife for which the UK is responsible.

In the new assessment, entitled ‘Environmental Governance in the UK’s Overseas Territories, a number of major gaps in environmental protection are exposed:

Five of the Territories have no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements for major developments e.g. Cayman Islands, where a major highway is proposed to cut through key old-growth forests home to the endangered blue iguana; and on Scrub Island in Anguilla a $1 billion development proposal has been given the go ahead which will involve cutting this important wildlife island in half and creating an inland marina;
Nine Territories lack strong networks of protected areas or completed implementing legislation, meaning sites such as the Centre Hills forest in Montserrat, home to the critically endangered Mountain Chicken (a giant frog) remain unprotected;
Four Territories have no marine protected areas e.g. Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas), where the development of the offshore oil industry risks pre-empting the establishment of a coherent network of marine protected areas;
In the three uninhabited Territories, where the UK Government has made a commitment to ‘exemplary environmental management’, there is a significant lack of transparency and accountability.

However, there are at least five draft bills (e.g. the Cayman National Conservation Bill 2007, the Anguilla Physical Planning Bill 2001) currently in Overseas Territories’ legislatures that would fill many of the gaps in their environmental legislation, but all have been stalled due to a lack of political will.

Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s Director of International Operations said, “Whilst some of the UK’s Overseas Territories such as Gibraltar have excellent environmental legislation, the gaps uncovered in this analysis are worrying and have the potential to allow damage to the environments and wildlife we are responsible for protecting.

“We hope this review will encourage the UK Government to fulfil its ambitions ‘to set world standards’ in the Overseas Territories and begin a programme of work to strengthen the most pressing gaps in their environmental laws. Major improvements are within reach and much can be achieved without significant additional resources.”

The report offers seven recommendations to help the Prime Minister realise his ambitions on Overseas Territories. Although the report has found a number of gaps in environmental governance, it has also discovered that some of the UK’s Territories are beacons of best practice in terms of environmental legislation. Gibraltar’s environmental legislation was rated as ‘strong’ across the board, whilst the site protection mechanisms of the British Virgin Islands, and development control procedures in St Helena, were also very good.

See also here.

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Pygmy sperm whale beaches in Cayman islands


This video is called Professor Malcolm Clarke talks about his research into Pygmy Sperm Whales.

By Norma Connolly:

Pygmy Sperm Whale washes up at Beach Bay

08 February 2013

A Pygmy Sperm Whale washed up at Beach Bay Thursday night.

The animal was apparently alive when local residents called to alert the Department of Environment of the stranding, but had died by the time department staff got to the beach.

Tim Austin, department deputy director, and other staff secured the whale at the site overnight.

“It measured 2.75 meters [9 feet] in length and probably weighed around 650 pounds… There were no obvious signs as to why it stranded and died but perhaps the necropsy will tell us more,” said Mr. Austin.

The whale was transported to St. Matthew’s University for a necropsy Friday morning.

The animal had lost skin from lying on the rocks and was bleeding from those wounds.

“It’s not our first stranding of this species, but it is not a common occurrence,” Mr. Austin said.

The Department of Environment has reported the stranding to the Caribbean Stranding Network and US Stranding Network and is collecting samples to assist in regional research and reporting.

“This species lives at sea in deep water feeding on deepwater squid and is rarely seen due to its habit of surfacing quietly and slowly and hanging motionless in the water,” said Mr. Austin.

A comment about this, at cayCompass.com:

Posted by Banana Republic on 2/8/2013 2:08:32 PM

Last time this happened I proposed salvaging this rare whale and having the skeletal remains assembled and put on display for public viewing.

The end result was having it towed out to sea and turned into fish bait because the smell offended ‘people’ who were staying along that particular beachfront and demanded immediate relief for their self-centered selves as opposed to saving it for posterity’s sake.

They put their ‘noses’ ahead of this very infrequent opportunity rather than allowing others the chance to see something so scarce.

It’s a given that 99.99 percent of us will never see a live pygmy sperm whale in our lifetimes, along our shores, so let’s take advantage of this situation.

This creature is going along the path of the dinosaurs.

A request to St. Matthew’s University; please don’t throw this one back into the sea or the GT dump.

I’d rather see something rather than nothing.

Cayman Islands turtle abuse


This video from the USA says about itself:

Mitt Romney avoids U.S tax by using offshore bank accounts

5 January 2012

Also the FBI is investigating Bain Capital. About two weeks ago, the FBI evoked FOIA exemption 7(a) and denied access to all Bain Capital records on the grounds that “there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records; and that release of the information contained in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with the enforcement proceedings.”

The Cayman Islands is where Mitt Romney and other extremely rich people, including criminals, hide trillions of dollars.

But that is not the only problem in this British colony.

Sometimes there seems to happen something good in conservation.

However, there also happens something, which seems good, but only at first sight.

This video says about itself:

Oct 15, 2012

Sea turtles crushed, stressed and diseased. Living with open wounds in waste-filled waters. Welcome to the Cayman Turtle Farm.

Life in these tanks is a living hell for the naturally solitary sea turtle. They are so stressed they turn on each other, biting and maiming.

In-breeding at the farm is a major problem. Some turtles are even born without eyes.

This horror is all in pursuit of profit. While a few lucky sea turtles are released, far more will be slaughtered and sold as steaks or burgers.

Sign our action now to end this nightmare. http://bit.ly/XchsPB.

From Wildlife Extra:

Cayman Turtle Farm report reveals cruelty, disease and appalling conditions

Undercover investigation at tourist hotspot reveals shocking animal cruelty

October 2012. An investigation conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) at popular tourist destination, the Cayman Turtle Farm (CTF), has revealed disturbing evidence of animal cruelty, along with widespread conservation and financial failures. Wildlife Extra first reported on the Cayman Turtle Farm in August when 300 turtles died after a water leak.

WSPA’s undercover video footage and photographs from the farm in the British Overseas Territory show thousands of sea turtles being kept in dirty, packed tanks. Swimming in water filled with their own waste, the turtles fight each other for food, bite each other and even resort to cannibalism.

7000 turtles kept in appalling conditions

Currently housing 7,000 endangered sea turtles in appallingly inadequate conditions, CTF claims it does so in order to satisfy local demand for turtle meat and to drive conservation. Although the farm says it has released 31,000 turtles since it opened in the late 60’s, only 1333 have been released in the last five years and currently just 11 of 200 turtles currently nesting on Cayman beaches have CTF tags.

Despite marketing itself as a conservation focused tourist attraction, the Cayman Turtle Farm is the world’s last remaining facility that commercially raises sea turtles for slaughter and consumption.

‘Neglect and cruelty’

WSPA Wildlife Campaign Leader Dr. Neil D’Cruze said: “It’s truly horrific to see this type of neglect and cruelty taking place at a tourist attraction. Life on the Cayman Turtle Farm is a world away from how sea turtles live in the wild. These naturally long ranging, wild animals are solitary creatures that can’t endure the cramped and filthy conditions at the farm. There’s simply no humane way to commercially farm sea turtles for food.”

Stress from overcrowding turns these gentle animals into cannibals and WSPA staff saw turtles with fins entirely chewed away.

In-breeding causes turtles to be born with massive deformities, such as no eyes; these young animals have no chance at life at all.

Government owned

As well as uncovering systemic and shocking cruelty, WSPA’s evidence shows that the heavily indebted government owned facility is failing on its conservation remit and is simultaneously posing a potential threat to human health.

Over 200,000 visitors, including unsuspecting British tourists, pass through the Cayman Turtle Farm’s doors each year, and are encouraged to pick up, touch and swim with the endangered sea turtles.

WSPA’s investigation uncovered traces of Salmonella, E. Coli and Vibrio vulnificus in the turtle touch tank waters – meaning that visitors who handle the turtles are at risk of getting these diseases and possibly spreading them to fellow passengers aboard their cruise ships. These tourists are at risk of contracting diseases ranging from gastroenteritis to pneumonia and cholera.

The farm has also received widespread criticism from conservationists and animal welfare groups who claim that raising turtles to release into the wild does not address the real problems of turtle decline. In fact, conservation experts say the farm runs the risk of introducing infectious diseases into the wild by releasing these turtles.

714 turtles died in 2011

WSPA Wildlife Campaign Leader Dr. Neil D’Cruze said: “The Cayman Turtle Farm claims to be a leader in conservation but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Over the last five years it has only released 273 animals on average. Last year alone, 714 turtles died at the farm, and 7,000 were left to live in horrific conditions in order to facilitate the release of such a small number. Conservation does not excuse cruelty.”

To make matters worse, the Cayman Turtle Farm is making an average loss of well over 9 million Cayman Dollars (approximately £6,773,000) a year over the past five years.

Transformation to conservation centre proposed

WSPA presented its findings to the Cayman Turtle Farm’s owners, proposing a plan for the farm to transition its business to a sea turtles rehabilitation and research center. The charity doesn’t think the facility needs to close, but does want to see public handling of turtles immediately ended and commercial farming of the endangered animals phased out, but so far the Cayman Turtle Farm has refused.

WSPA now feels its only option is to publicly ask the Cayman Turtle Farm to permanently end sea turtle farming and encourages people to join them at www.stopseaturtlefarm.org.

WSPA’s Dr D’Cruze added: “WSPA is calling on the Cayman Turtle farm to stop this shocking cruelty, to stop putting unsuspecting tourists at risk, and to stop wasting Caymanian citizens’ tax money. WSPA wants to work with the farm to turn the facility into a place that Caymanians can be proud of. Science and society moves on and WSPA would like to help CTF make a positive change, for the turtles, for tourism and for the island.”

See also here.

Sea Turtle Conservancy joins effort to stop sea turtle farming at Cayman Turtle Farm: here.

February 2013. Tourists coming into contact with sea turtles at holiday attractions face a risk of health problems, according to research published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM) Short Reports. Encountering free-living sea turtles in nature is quite safe, but contact with wild-caught and captive-housed sea turtles, typically through handling turtles in confined pools or through consuming turtle products, carries the risk of exposure to toxic contaminants and to zoonotic (animal to human) pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Symptoms, which may take some time to emerge, can resemble gastrointestinal disorders or flu but people more severely affected can suffer septicaemia, pneumonia, meningitis and acute renal failure: here.

Banks help billionaires dodge taxes


This video from the USA says about itself:

Major Banks Help Clients Hide Trillions in Offshore Tax Havens

James Henry: US media and politicians mostly ignore massive untaxed wealth that big banks help rich move to tax havens.

Alex Oberley, PRWatch: “At least $21 trillion in unreported private financial wealth was recently discovered sitting in secret tax havens…. The study is one of the first attempting to measure the hidden wealth. It could be as high as $32 trillion – a staggering sum”: here.

Tax-dodgers’ paradise the Cayman Islands buckled to the bankers’ lobby today and scrapped plans to introduce a meagre income tax on wealthy expats: here.

British bank accused of hiding 60,000 transactions worth $250 billion with Iranians, NY regulator says: here.

GEORGE OSBORNE has “no serious answer to the serious problem of tax avoidance” shadow chancellor John McDonnell charged yesterday after reports that five global investment banks were exposed for paying no corporation tax in Britain last year despite making billions in profits.

Kemp’s ridley turtles after BP disaster


This video says about itself:

It’s already one of the world’s most endangered animals, but the very survival of the Kemp’s Ridley turtle was dealt a massive blow by the BP oil spill in 2010.

At the time, scientists had been moving eggs in a desperate bid to save the species.

Now, as part of our “What happened Next?” series, Rachel Levin travels back to Tamaulipas reserve to see how the turtles are doing.

Al Jazeera’s Rachel Levine reports from La Pesca, Mexico.

A recent decision by the Alabama state legislature to allocate funds from an early settlement with British Petroleum (BP) to build a convention center has aroused anger from Gulf Coast environmental groups. The project is part of a $594 million plan announced last week by BP and the five Gulf Coast states affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster: here.

August 2012. After a leak of seawater from a pipe, 300 Green turtles have died at a turtle farm on the Cayman Islands. The turtle farm is a controversial turtle breeding centre that also sells turtle products to raise money. Not everyone agrees with this style of conservation, and although much good has been done in boosting local populations of turtles, there is much disquiet in some quarters about their methods: here.

Endangered Sea Turtles Face Increased Threats: here.

Cayman islands: trying to save blue iguanas


This 2016 video is about Cayman Island blue iguanas and other Cayman island wildlife.

It says about itself:

This mini-documentary explores the wildlife and conservation of the Cayman Islands, a UK Overseas Territory in the Caribbean comprising Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. All three islands are home to a staggering diversity of wildlife that occurs in tropical dry forests, mangrove forests and vast seabird colonies.

In this film, we encounter fiddler crabs, snakes, land hermit crabs, exquisite orchids and many unique birds that occur nowhere else on Earth.

The Cayman Islands are also home to two unique iguanas, both of which are critically rare. Grand Cayman’s blue iguana is so called for its striking blue colouration. The blue iguana was predicted to become extinct, but conservationists acted just in time by setting up a very successful breeding programme, and the species has been saved for the future. Off shore, diverse coral reefs are renowned across the world, and are the site for immense grouper spawning aggregations – including the largest remaining aggregation events left in the Caribbean.

From the BBC:

Conservationists are celebrating success in a captive-breeding programme that aims to save the world’s rarest lizard from extinction.

Three eggs laid by a Grand Cayman blue iguana that had been released into a nature reserve on the Caribbean island have successfully hatched.

Since 2004, 219 captive-bred iguanas have been released in an attempt to save the crtically endangered species.

The wild population of blue iguanas is expected to be extinct within 10 years.

“The animals we released in 2004 are now coming into sexual maturity,” said Matt Goetz, deputy head of herpetology at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

“This year, we were delighted to discover three nests within the nature reserve,” he added.

The Jersey-based trust is one of the six permanent partners of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, which has been operating since 1990.

The scheme releases iguanas into the island’s Salina nature reserve when the animals are about two or three years old, once they are large enough not to be eaten by snakes.

“We can now confirm that all three eggs in one of these nests have hatched, which marks a major step forward in securing the survival of these animals,” Mr Goetz said.

“Hopefully, the eggs laid at the other sites will be following suit soon.”

Habitat threat

Blue iguanas (Cyclura lewisi) are classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) was once king of the Caribbean Island, Grand Cayman. Weighting in at 25 pounds, measuring over 5 feet, and living for over sixty years, nothing could touch this regal lizard. But then the unthinkable happened: cars, cats, and dogs, along with habitat destruction, dethroned Grand Cayman’s reptilian overlord. The lizard went from an abundant population that roamed the island freely to practically assured extinction. In 2002, researchers estimated that two dozen—at best—survived in the wild. Despite the bleak number, conservationists started a last ditch effort to save the species. With help from local and international NGOs, the effort, dubbed the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, has achieved a rarity in conservation. Within nine years it has raised the population of blue iguanas by twenty times: today 500 wild blue iguanas roam Salina Reserve: here.

Bahama islands anolis lizards: here.

European common lizards: here.

Komodo dragon’s virgin birth: here.

Ecomorphology of Anolis lizards of the Choco′ region in Colombia and comparisons with Greater Antillean ecomorphs: here.

Fossil animals and plants of the Bahamas: here.

The name Hurricane Hole might conjure images of howling winds and crashing seas. In fact, this collection of bays on the southern shore of St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a sheltered sanctuary whose crystalline waters offer safe haven for young fish: here.