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There are only a few species so ancient that they can say they watched dinosaurs evolve and then later become extinct. As you start your adventure, your first encounter will take you within feet of some of the most majestic and ancient animals in the world! The Breeder Pond is home to our Green Sea Turtles who have matured and are at or near the age to start reproducing which is usually at about 16 years of age. The beach at the edge of the pond allows female turtles to nest in an environment very similar to the ones they would nest in if they were in the wild. During breeding season, from May to October, you may even be lucky enough to spot a nest where a female laid her eggs the night before. Eggs are collected each morning and carefully translocated to the Turtle Hatchery. Green Sea Turtles are the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles and the second largest of all turtle species. In the Genesis Pond Here you will find a few weighing in at more than 500 pounds! Most of these turtles were also hatched at the Turtle Centre several decades ago, and they make a magnificent sight – they are so graceful despite their huge size.
Here you will find yearling turtles swimming and playing. Reach in to touch or pick one up for a photo of a lifetime! Be sure to hold them firmly and stay near the tank. You can get in the Touch Tank Wading Pools for an even closer encounter with our yearlings! Professional photographers are nearby, ready to make sure you and your family have an extra-special photo to keep.
Our 11 foot and growing and over 300 pounds American saltwater crocodile resides here! In late 2006 Grand Cayman received an unexpected visitor, Smiley, the first crocodile seen in the Cayman Islands since the late-1950s! She and her crocodile ancestors were originally called “Caimanas” by the early Spanish explorers, from which the Cayman Islands derived its name. Smiley actually has two compartments – a freshwater one and a saltwater one, so that she can go in either one depending on how she feels. Crocodiles have a slow metabolism and so Smiley only gets fed a couple of times a week, but feeding times are spectacular and very popular with visitors.
Cool off and relax at Breaker’s Lagoon – the largest swimming pool on island - which boasts two fun waterfalls and its own underwater viewing panel for another opportunity to peer into the fascinating predator tank! Coming soon: Turtle Twister Water Slide! This pool is named after the breakers off the eastern districts; these are shallow areas such as reefs where you can see waves break.
Peer through the underwater or dry viewing panels and come nose-to-nose with large nurse sharks! Other amazing predators include tarpon, barracuda, and even a hawksbill turtle live here. Ask our trainers about feeding times! You don’t want to miss this feeding frenzy of fun!
Not all of our animal friends live in the water. Stroll around the Caribbean Aviary to meet local and exotic Caribbean birds; including the Cayman Parrot, our national bird, and the colourful Scarlet Ibis. Some birds are busy making nests or foraging for food but ask about close-up encounters – visitors are able to ask a staff member for bird food so that they can feed many of the birds in the aviary by hand. There are also peafowl on their very own two islands in the middle of the Saltwater Lagoon. There are beautiful white peacocks to see as well as the more ‘traditional’ blue peacocks. If visitors are lucky, they will display their tail feathers, and sometimes their chicks can be seen too!
You don’t just have to watch the turtles. Jump in and swim with yearling green sea turtles and other colorful marine life in Turtle Lagoon! This lagoon is also adorned with coral, and little islands where iguanas and peacocks live – you can’t experience a snorkeling trip like this anywhere else.
The Butterfly Garden, right next to the Aviary, is a great place to see a wide range of butterflies. A total of 18 different butterfly species have been seen there. Some are large and colorful, while others are tiny and may be plain white or black in color. The plants have been specially picked for the garden, to attract a wide range of butterflies. Look on the underside of the leaves, and you can often see their eggs, and the many different kinds of caterpillar that will one day become butterflies themselves!
Take a walk through the ambience of days gone by on Cayman Street – a gravel path laced with old traditional homes, sand gardens, thatch relics and conch shells.
The Blue Hole Nature Trail is named after the mysterious blue cave which is habitat to the only known species of an Amphipod – that is a tiny aquatic side swimming crustacean – in the world. The path winds through some of Cayman’s native trees. The Mahogany Tree is known as the ‘Cradle to the Grave’ tree because it was used for making everything from a baby’s cradle to a coffin! The Silver Thatch Tree – Cayman’s National Tree – can also be seen there. The leaves of this tree – silvery on the underside, hence the name - were at one time the source of Cayman’s only export. Cut into strips, they were woven together to form the world’s toughest marine rope. Today local artisans, selling beautiful bags and hats and baskets from the same Silver Thatch Leaves, can often be found within the park. There are also three beautiful species of wild orchid there: The Banana Orchid, Cayman’s National Flower, and delicate and beautiful ghost orchid, a rare, endangered and endemic native plant, and the Monk Orchid, which is Cayman’s only ground-living orchid. The Red Birch Tree is called the ‘Tourist Tree’ by locals because its bark looks like the skin of tourists when they have been out in the Cayman sun for too long! Sea grape trees have lovely round leaves and produce a sweet, slightly salty tasting ‘grape’ that is still used to make drinks.
If you are fortunate, you can often see several different kinds of wildlife on the nature trail, such as the Zebra Butterfly, White Crowned Pigeons, the Yucatan Vireo and Bananaquit birds, the beautiful Cayman Blue Anole Lizard, and the Agouti, a large, gentle rodent which local people call “Rabbit” because it hops like a rabbit and looks a bit like a rabbit- only with short ears.