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The Fascinating Wildlife of Barbados

The Fascinating Wildlife of Barbados

Small as it is at 14 miles wide and 21 miles long, Barbados is home to a rich and varied wildlife. On land and offshore, you’ll find some of the most exotic and remarkable specimens of the animal kingdom. For visitors, there are plenty of opportunities to see these animals up close and doing so is often an experience in itself. Here are some of the animals that visitors are likely to see.

Barbadian green monkeys

What makes seeing Barbadian green monkeys a unique experience is that, by rights, they shouldn’t exist at all. They are, in fact, the descendants of West African green monkeys brought over as pets during the height of the slave trade. However, some of these monkeys must have escaped and, after 350 years of breeding and natural selection, they have evolved into a subspecies that isn’t found anywhere else.

Today, the monkeys thrive on the island and you’re bound to see them when you visit. You can’t miss them when you do because, as the name implies, their grey-brown coats are tinged with flashes of green and yellow, giving them a greenish appearance. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a baby monkey which are bluish to look at.

One of the best places to see Barbadian green monkeys is at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Dusk is the best time to go as this is when they come down from the trees to eat and play.

Sea anemones

Sea anemones are some of the most unusual and beautiful creatures on the planet. They look more like flowers than living animals, with long brightly coloured tendrils that sway in the current, attracting the prey that these carnivores feed on.

If you want to get up close to sea anemones on Barbados then head to the Animal Flower Cave. The cave actually gets its name from the anemones that live in its shallow tidal pools and here you can watch them open and close.

Aside from the anemones, the cave itself is well worth a visit. Made from 500,000-year-old coral, it casts fantastical reflections on the walls when struck by sunlight. It’s also one of Barbados’ most coveted photo spots; you can take a selfie of yourself framed by the mouth of the cave with the glorious Caribbean in the background.

Hummingbirds

Perfectly adapted to their environment, with beautiful colours, long beaks and exceptional flying agility, these tiny and seemingly fragile birds are one of nature’s true wonders. Thankfully, Barbados is blessed with lots of them.

If you want to see wild hummingbirds on Barbados, head to the glorious Andromeda Botanic Gardens in St Joseph’s Parish. Considered to be one of the finest examples of post-war gardens anywhere in the world, Andromeda is a great place for a day out and aside from the many hummingbirds and stunning gardens, there are also tropical dragonflies and green monkeys to spot.

Turtles

Turtles are an endangered species so we are thankful that in the waters around Barbados, there are plenty of them. In fact, our turtles are pretty used to seeing people around; when the fishing boats bring in the catch in the late afternoons, you can often see them following the boats in the hope of grabbing a free meal.

By far the most popular way to see turtles in Barbados is to get into the water with them. This is usually done by going snorkelling. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to do this just swimming by the beach. Most people, however, go a little further out on a specially organised, catamaran snorkelling trip. Here the experienced crews know the best places to find turtles and so you can dive in and get up close. Remember to take your underwater camera with you.  

Reef fish and coral

Just off the coast, Barbados has some wonderful coral reefs. What many people don’t realise is that coral, itself, is a living animal. Incredibly tiny, each individual is called a polyp and they group together to form giant, highly colourful colonies which we know as reefs. The reefs themselves are very fertile and this attracts the brightly coloured and often bizarre creatures and fish that live and breed among them. Of course, these creatures are tempting food for bigger predators that come to hunt them, often at night.

There are a number of ways to discover the wonderful creatures of the Barbadian coral reefs. One of the most popular is to take a diving trip. There are plenty of experienced diving tour operators on the west coast and if you’ve never been diving before, they’ll give you lessons before taking you out.

An unusual and exciting alternative is to take a trip on the Atlantis, Barbados’ very own tourist submarine. This underwater adventure takes you 150ft beneath the waves so you can see the reefs up close through the large portholes. There you’ll discover octopi, tropical fish, sea horses, sea urchins, turtles and an array of other majestical creatures at home on the reef. If you want to see some of the larger predators, you can do this on a night dive.

Summing up

Barbados has more than its fair share of beautiful creatures and for that, we consider ourselves very lucky. Even better, being such a small island, you never have to go far to see them. Whether on land or at sea, animal lovers will always have spectacular wildlife all around them. If you love seeing exotic animals, come to Barbados and discover them for yourself.

For first class accommodation ideally located for discovering our wildlife, take a look at the prestigious villas and apartments here at The Royal Westmoreland.