SEA is 'Batty'!
By Carol Cramer-Burke, Renata Platenberg and Jennifer Valiulis
That's right, we love bats! In fact, we like them so much that in 1999 SEA accepted responsibility for conservation of a colony of Cave Bats, also called Antillean fruit-eating bats, which have made their home in a Danish well tower. The stone structure and cool moist environment inside approximates a cave-like atmosphere. SEA installed fencing to protect the bats from molestation by people who often misunderstand these amazing and beneficial creatures.
Most of the frightening myths about bats are untrue. They do not become tangled in your hair although they are curious and may swoop close to get a look at what's going on. They are not blind; in fact they have good eyesight and also use sonar to locate prey and navigate through complex habitats in the dark. Bats in the Virgin Islands do not carry rabies or any other diseases that can harm humans and none of the five species of bats found here are blood eaters. There are only three species of vampire bats in the world and all are found in Central and South America.
The Virgin Islands hosts three fruit eating bats, one insectivore, and one fish eater. The fruit eating bats are responsible for pollinating many local fruits such as mangoes, bananas, breadfruit, guava and avocados. The insect eating velvety free-tailed bat can eat 600 mosquito sized insects in one night! They provide a great benefit by reducing the population of insects that plague us and our crops. So you see, bats really are good guys and there is much more to learn about their interesting habits. Please join SEA for a Bat Watch on October 29th at the old Brugal Rum Factory where we will get a very close look at some bats and bust some bat myths.
SEA, the St. Croix Environmental Association, is a non-profit environmental education, awareness and advocacy organization formed in 1986. SEA's programs include year-round environmental education activities for youth and adults at schools and other venues; conservation of important habitats for birds, bats and other wildlife; and advocacy for environmentally sound and sustainable development projects, clean air and water, and alternative energy production. Visit our website at www.stxenvironmental.org.
SEA hosts a variety of activities for island residents and visitors: hikes, movies, snorkel clinics, bird watching tours and much more (see inset). In November we will hold a Biodiversity Blitz at our Southgate Coastal Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary bordering Chenay Bay. The 100- acre reserve comprises upland grassland, wetland, coastal salt pond, beach berm forest and sandy beach - a nesting site for Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles. Local experts and volunteers will attempt to inventory all of the plants, insects, and animals - terrestrial and aquatic - within the reserve. Educational games and displays for children and adults, 'meet the expert' activities, and guided surveys will all be a part of the fun.
2010 is the Year of Biodiversity and SEA has celebrated with a series of films describing Earth's amazing variety of habitats and inhabitants and the threats they face. Four additional films remain in this series, including the justreleased Carbon Nation which takes a look at climate change solutions. Learn about the incredible journeys of migratory birds in October with our showing of Winged Migration. For more information, call 773-1989.