Blue Iguana Recovery Program

Salina Blues Progress

Mar 14th, 2005 | By | Category: Blues in the Local Press

From the Program Director

Yesterday in the Salina Reserve I held a young female Blue Iguana, and peeled off a radio transmitter that she’d been carrying for the last 2 months and more. It was Gypsy, one of the thirteen two-year-old female Blues which walked into the wild for the first time on 7th December last year. It’s been reassuring, measuring and weighing these plump, wriggling young iguanas, to see how well they’ve done since we let them go. All are alive and well, and some have even gained weight though food resources are getting scarce as we enter the dry season.

In another two weeks we’ll weigh and measure the males, then all that remains for this phase of the inaugural Salina Release project, is weeks of data entry and analysis to tease out key conclusions from the months of meticulous monitoring.

It’s tempting to speak of success, but it’s far too soon for that. By May some of these released iguanas should be big enough to mate, and that brings a whole new raft of questions and uncertainties. Only if the released Blues nest successfully within the soil patches of the Salina Reserve, will we feel confident we’re on the right track.

There are other possibilities. Food resources may run low through the dry season, and the iguanas could migrate out of the Reserve in search of edible foliage. Perhaps some ancient instinct will draw them to the coast when nesting season approaches, bringing the females into harm’s way on a busy coastal highway. Maybe the uncertain dry summer rains will fail, and the females scatter looking for moist nesting soil. In May and June we’ll have to radio track these females again, it’s the only way we’ll know what happens.

Meanwhile, an unresolved mystery lingers over the last truly wild Blues, remnants of the original population in the heart of Grand Cayman’s East End. Issues also remain with the small restored wild population in the QE II Botanic Park. Above all, our long term goal of 1,000 wild Blue Iguanas requires more managed iguana habitat than the Salina and the Park alone can provide.

Over the next few weeks I’ll explore some of these interesting and challenging issues here on, around the same time our next call for field volunteers starts to circulate. For now I’ll close with my heartfelt thanks to those tireless and dedicated souls who worked with me and BIRP Wardens Chris Carr and Samantha Addinall, all through December and January, to help Gypsy and her 22 peers start their lives in the wild. Those thanks belong equally with the institutions who made this promising start possible, financially and in many other ways!

Fred Burton,
Director, Blue Iguana Recovery Program

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