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Turtles Galore and More

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Turtles Galore and More
03Jan 2012

The relationship between Cayman and turtles goes back a long way. In fact, the islands were originally called Las Tortugas by Christopher Columbus and his crew when they passed through on 10 May, 1503.

The turtle has always been part of Cayman’s history, with a significant portion of the local population heading out to sea, in days gone by, to capture turtles for food and other uses, and though the islands were soon renamed – more of that later – the turtle remains a huge element of Cayman’s identity (just check out Cayman Airways’ logo for evidence of that)

Cayman Turtle Centre is located in West Bay and is a must-visit for its plethora of attractions.

Kids and adults can get up close and personal with the critters in touch tanks and the big boys have a breeding pond to splash about in (that’s the turtles, not the humans). Fear not, though – if you want to get in amongst it you can swim and snorkel in the saltwater lagoon. There is also a predator tank with windows so you can catch a glimpse of the sharks as they swim by.

Latterly, there’s been a brand new addition to the park – a 9ft crocodile called, appropriately, Smiley. Historically, too, Caiman is the Taino word for crocodile, which again gave the islands their current name. Smiley draws great crowds when she is fed every day at noon – it is quite an extraordinary thing to witness as she utilizes her mega-powerful jaws to grab the meat as provided by her brave handlers. This saltwater crocodile is a mix of American and Cuban crocs which environmentalists do not consider suitable to release in the wild. She is a living, breathing example of a vital part of Cayman’s past.

The fab aviary is home to beautiful birds, including a pair of breeding native Cayman Green Parrots. Caymanian Street, meanwhile, features a replica of old-style Caymanian houses, as well as local artisans demonstrating traditional skills such as thatch-weaving and much more. It’s a great way to experience living history.

This 23-acre facility also features a bar and grill, and a gift shop where you can purchase cute versions of those amazing turtles and many more goodies to remind you of the time you came face to face with a crocodile... and lived to tell the tale.

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