The Ecosystems of Grand Bahama Island
Photos and text contributed by Erika Moultrie, Kayak Nature Tours

Pine Forest

Blackland Coppice

Rocky Coppice
Mangrove Swamp (swashland)
Whiteland Coppice 
Though people envision palm trees when they think of the Bahamas, the Caribbean pine is actually the most common tree on the island, covering 50% of the land mass.  This unique tree (bahamensis var.) is endemic to only four of The Islands of The Bahamas.  It is fire resistant, containing resins just under its bark that set off small explosions when hit by fire, there by suffocating the nearby flames. In the past, they were heavily harvested for lumber. Common in this ecological zone are also the Agave, or Century plant, and Palmetto. Decomposing leaf matter inside the Pine forest creates the Blackland Coppice, which nurtures indigenous fig trees, Dogwood, Lancewood, and Gumbo-Limbo trees. Also growing here is the Satin Leaf tree, which produces a dark red edible fruit that migratory North American birds feast on in late winter. The shade created by all these trees makes a perfect habitat for various ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. The Rocky Coppice is a transitional zone between the Mangrove Swamp and the Pine Forest and is frequently flooded at high tide.  It is distinguished by limestone outcrops and an abundance of Ming trees, which the locals call "prickly trees." Their tiered branches are reminiscent of Asian bonsai trees. Also common in this zone are mahogany and red cedar trees. One the most fascinating ecological zones in The Bahamas, the Mangrove swamp is an environment where land and sea systems interweave. The huge, gnarly-rooted Red Mangrove trees grow in brackish water, secreting salt through their leaves. There are three kinds of mangrove species in the Bahamas, Red Mangroves, Black Mangroves and White Mangroves.  The Red Mangroves collect sediment, a process that actually extends the land over time.  This zone also has orchids and ferns.  This zone forms a transition from the beach areas to the mangroves.  It is especially rich in plant life, due to the fact that it is somewhat protected by the nearby sand dunes. One of its most predominant trees is the giant poisonwood, which carries exactly the same kind of allergenic oil as poison ivy.  Here you can also find Akacia  and tall Sabal Palm, as well as Wild Coffee in the shade of the canopy. The land's last bastion before it reaches the sea, the beach/shoreline zone features both sandy strands and coastal rock formations and is distinguished by plants that tolerate the harsh environment of salt and wind. Among these plants is the Sea Purslane, the Sandfly Bush, Bay Marigold, the Bay Lavender and the Bay Cedar. Also growing here are two plants with beautiful flowers: the white- petal Spider Lily and the purple-petal Cordia. 


This page, and all contents of this Web site are Copyright
(c) 1998-2002 by InterKnowledge Corp. All rights reserved.