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Ancient Pirates’ Lair

Filed under: General,global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 5:39 am

Pirates and turtle hunters once hid in the Miskito Cays, a group of islands off the east coast of Nicaragua. These islands include San Andrés, Providencia, and Corn Island, to name a few. Politically, the islands are split between Colombian and Nicaraguan rule, with some smaller ones falling under the possession of the Miskito Indian Nation. Now, human occupation has robbed these islands of many of their original treasures as introduced plants and animals, as well as conversion of forests to farmlands, have displaced many native species. Isolated patches of native trees grow like scattered jewels across the landscape.

Though very little forest remains on the habitable islands in the Miskito Cays, there is a wealth of life in the water surrounding them. A labyrinth of coral reefs winds through the cobalt waters of the Caribbean Sea, supporting rich communities of marine organisms. Mangrove forests cling to the shore, with the trees’ spindly roots creating a thicket as they reach through the water and into the mud and sand below. The shelter provided by these roots is a treasure trove for crabs, mollusks, and juvenile fish. Behind the mangroves, strands of moist forests dot the landscape like emeralds. Remaining forest fragments host several endemic species. Hurricanes have played a major role in shaping the vegetation here–which tends to be short and dense on the windward side of the islands, getting progressively taller on the leeward side and in areas protected from heavy winds.

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