Marine Fauna and Flora
Turneffe Islands in general and Blackbird Caye in particular are home to abundant populations of Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon, which along with the most species of snapper and grouper are prized sport fishing targets for a number of our guests, although bonefish are typically captured and released, while other species are typically captured and mounted or eaten. Black grouper are reputed to have aggregated for spawning purposes in the vicinity of Soldier Caye, just east of Blackbird Caye, both historically and in recent times.The variety of fish life found in the waters around the caye is impressive and typical of warm Caribbean waters. They include Parrotfish, Angelfish, Triggerfish, Rockfish, and Red tail Snapper, Horse Eye Jacks, Black Gray and Yellowtail Snapper, Barracuda, Grouper, Needlefish, bonefish, Sardines, Tarpon, Snook, Permit, Tuna Mackerel, Spotted Eagle Rays, Wahoo, Skate, Grunt, Marlin, Swordfish and Squid.
Marine Mammals – The Turneffe island range is home to a variety of marine mammals, which include the Antillean Manatee, 4 species of dolphins, and 3 species of whales.
Bird life is interesting but limited to 27 species found throughout the islands, the most predominant of which are Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigate Bird, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little blue Heron, Osprey and Spotted Sandpiper.
Two Cnidarians, include marine jellies and fire coral can be found near and offshore at Blackbird Caye. The Portuguese Man of War is commonly sighted at the Harry Jones Cut, and is known for a powerful sting that is designed to paralyze prey. Fire corals are also found in the vicinity of Blackbird Caye, and contact with these organisms can result in painful red swelling in humans. Some species of fire corals may be cryptically disguised as a thin coat on gorgonians or true corals and nearly the same color as the host organism it coats.
Medusa worms are also common in the area, they build chitinized tube covered with shell fragments, debris on rocks and are buried vertically in sandy mud or gravel. These worms spin a network of stinging material that can extend several body lengths from the work, creating an “attractive nuisance” which entices unaware divers to touch the strands, only to be severely stung.
The primary flora of the nearshore marine habitat surrounding Blackbird Caye is comprised of turtle Grass, albeit with select, nearshore patches of Shoal Grass and Manatee Grass. Some of the trees and plants found on the island include Coconut and Palmetto Palms, White and red Mangrove, Sea Grape trees, Papaya trees and a variety of other flowers and shrubs.